How old do I need to be to buy alcohol or have it in my possession in public?

You are not allowed to buy alcohol until you are 18. If you are under 18 and have alcohol in your possession in public, you are committing a punishable offence under the Licensing and Catering Act. Outdoor areas like streets and parks are public places, and so are shopping centres and pubs.

Possession of regular alcoholic beverages and spirits by minors: a criminal offence

If you are under 18, having any alcohol with you in public is punishable by law. The law makes no difference between spirits and beverages with a moderate alcohol content of less than 15%, including beer, wine, port, sherry and vermouth as well as mixed drinks. Spirits are drinks with an alcohol content greater than 15%.

If you are under 18, you are allowed to have alcohol-free and low-alcohol beverages containing up to 0.5% alcohol in public places.

Fines for possession of alcohol by minors

If you are under 18 and are caught with alcohol in a public place, you risk a fine or an alternative sanction. The fine is €45 if you are between 12 and 16, and €90 if you are 16 or 17.

Alcohol in supermarkets and minors

It is not a criminal offence for a minor to be in possession of alcohol in a supermarket. But as soon as you step outside the supermarket with alcohol, you risk being fined.

Supermarkets have agreed that anyone who looks younger than 25 must show valid ID at the checkout to prove they are old enough to buy alcohol.

Buying alcohol if you are 18 or older

If you are 18 or older you may buy alcohol in any supermarket, off-licence, pub, hotel or restaurant. If the seller has doubts about your age they must ask how old you are. This is not necessary if it is obvious that you are old enough. You can demonstrate your age by showing an identity card, passport or driving licence.