Are you planning a trip to the Great White North and wondering, “What is the drinking age in Canada?” If so, I can definitely enlighten you!
Canada is an incredible country to live in and visit. I should know! Born and raised in Ontario, our family has travelled pretty much coast to coast.
This question comes up often, especially since we get so many visitors from the US. But unlike many European countries, the answer is not simple.
Canada does not have a drinking age that is set at the Federal level. Instead, each province and territory is responsible for setting its own drinking age.
As a result, some parts of Canada have a legal drinking age of 18, while the rest of the country is set at 19.
In this blog post, we will discuss Canadian alcohol laws, as well as dive into some history and fun facts about the various types of alcohol that are popular in this amazing country of ours.
🍹 What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada?
So, let’s talk about the legal drinking age in Canada. In most provinces and territories, the legal drinking age is 19.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a couple of exceptions. In Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, the drinking age is 18.
It’s worth mentioning that these laws apply to the purchase and consumption of alcohol in licensed establishments.
🍹 Which Canadian Province Has the Lowest Drinking Age?
There are actually 3 Canadian provinces that have a lower drinking age than the rest of the country.
As we mentioned above, in Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba In Quebec, the legal drinking age is 18 years old. This means that individuals who are 18 or older can legally purchase and consume alcohol.
As a result, cities like Montreal have quite a large nightlife scene. In fact, I can remember heading to Montreal with friends as a teen because we could get into the clubs a full year earlier!
🍹 What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada by Province?
Here’s the breakdown of the legal drinking age in Canada by province/territory:
🍹 What is the Legal Age to Serve Alcohol in Canada?
In Canada, the legal age to serve alcohol is 18. This age applies regardless of the drinking age in that particular province.
This means that if you’re 18 or older, you can work in a licensed establishment as a bartender or waiter, and serve alcoholic beverages.
These age restrictions are in place to make sure that people working in these types of jobs have the necessary maturity and responsibility to handle alcohol service.
It also means that in most of Canada, you can actually be too young to drink alcohol legally, but at the same time, be old enough to serve it! Weird, right?
🍹 What Are the Drinking Laws in Canada?
From the legal drinking age to the rules around public drinking and impaired driving, this section will provide you with some comprehensive information on the most common drinking laws in Canada.
What is the Drinking Age in Canada?
🍹 18 Years Old – Can purchase and consume any form of alcohol in Alberta, Manitoba or Quebec.
🍹 19 Years Old – Can purchase and consume any form of alcohol ANYWHERE in Canada.
What is the Blood-Alcohol Limit in Canada for Impaired Driving?
In Canada, the blood-alcohol limit for impaired driving is 0.08.
This means that if your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches or exceeds 0.08, you are considered legally impaired and can face serious consequences if caught driving under the influence.
It’s important to note that this limit applies to fully licensed drivers in most provinces and territories.
However, there are stricter regulations in place for novice drivers. Those with a graduated driver’s license (meaning they do not have a full driver’s license yet), must maintain a BAC of 0.00 while driving.
Of course, this law also applies to visitors to Canada. So even if you are driving in Canada with a US license, you are still subject to our drinking and driving laws.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Public in Canada?
In Canada, the rules regarding drinking alcohol in public can vary depending on the province or territory.
With the exception of Quebec, possession of open containers of alcohol in public is not allowed. This means that open liquor is only permitted in private residences or on licensed premises.
Most provincial laws allow for consuming alcohol in designated areas, such as licensed patios, outdoor festivals, and certain public events. These areas are often regulated by permits and specific guidelines set by local authorities.
Keep in mind, that unlike in Europe, consuming alcohol in public spaces like streets, parks, or sidewalks is prohibited in most parts of the country.
What is the Penalty for Being Drunk in Public?
While the specific penalties can vary by province and territory, being intoxicated in a public place can lead to legal consequences.
In general, being drunk in public is considered a provincial offence rather than a criminal offence.
As such, the penalties typically involve fines as well as a brief period of time in custody, depending on the severity of the situation and the local regulations.
In other words, police will often keep you in their holding cells until you sober up enough to care for yourself, and not be a danger to others.
That said, it’s important to note that the main focus is on ensuring public safety and preventing disturbances, rather than targeting individuals solely for being intoxicated.
Can You Drink at 16 in Canada with Parents?
No. In Canada, you cannot legally drink alcohol at the age of 16, even if you are with your parents.
The legal drinking age in most provinces and territories is 19, except for Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where it is 18.
These age restrictions apply to the purchase, possession, and consumption of alcohol in public spaces and licensed establishments.
While parents may choose to allow their underage children to have a sip of alcohol in a private setting, it’s important to understand that the legal drinking age still applies in public settings.
🍹 Access and Availability to Alcohol in Canada
When it comes to the access and availability of alcohol in Canada, there are some things, that as a tourist, you should be aware of.
Do They Ask for ID in Canada?
Yes, in Canada, it is common for establishments such as bars, clubs, and liquor stores to ask for identification (ID). This is done in order to verify a person’s age before serving or selling alcohol.
Establishments have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the law and prevent underage drinking.
So, even if you are of legal age, it is still standard practice for staff members to request ID from anyone who appears to be under the legal drinking age.
It’s important to carry a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or provincial identification card, if you plan to purchase or consume alcohol in Canada.
What are the Penalties for Selling Alcohol to Minors?
Selling alcohol to minors is taken very seriously in Canada, and there are penalties in place to discourage this illegal activity.
The penalties for selling alcohol to minors can vary by province or territory, as well as the specific circumstances of the offence.
However, in general, selling alcohol to minors can result in fines, license suspensions or revocations for businesses, and potential criminal charges for individuals involved in the sale.
These penalties aim to enforce the importance of responsible alcohol sales and protect the well-being of young individuals.
It’s important for businesses and individuals involved in alcohol sales to diligently check and verify the age of customers to ensure compliance with the law.
Where Can Alcohol Be Sold in Canada?
Alcohol can be sold in various places across Canada, subject to certain circumstances, regulations and licensing requirements. Here are the common types of establishments where alcohol is typically sold:
Many restaurants in Canada have liquor licenses. This allows them to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on their premises. It also enables customers to enjoy a drink alongside their meal.
🍹 Liquor Stores
These are dedicated retail outlets that specialize in selling alcohol. They may be government-operated or privately owned, depending on the province or territory.
For example, in Ontario, we have the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). While in Quebec, they have the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec).
🍺 Bars and Pubs
These establishments primarily serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on-site. They often offer a variety of drinks, including beer, wine, and spirits, along with food and entertainment.
🍾 Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
These establishments produce their own alcoholic beverages. Many of them have on-site stores or tasting rooms where customers can purchase their products directly.
🍻 Convenience Stores
In some provinces, such as Quebec and Alberta, certain convenience stores are permitted to sell alcohol. That said, typically there are specific restrictions on the types of beverages or alcohol content that can be sold in these types of shops.
🥂 Grocery Stores
Several provinces and territories in Canada allow the sale of alcohol in grocery stores. However, the type of alcohol is different from one province to the next.
For example, in British Columbia, grocery stores can sell beer, wine, and spirits through a store-within-a-store model, where a separate area is designated for alcohol sales. However, in Quebec, only beer and wine are allowed to be sold in grocery stores.
🍹 What is the Drinking Age in Canada for Tourists?
The drinking age in Canada applies to both residents and tourists alike.
In most provinces and territories, the legal drinking age is 19. However, there are a few exceptions. Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec have a drinking age of 18.
These age restrictions are enforced regardless of your status as a tourist or resident.
So just remember, if you’re visiting Canada and would like to consume alcohol, you’ll need to abide by the legal drinking age of the province or territory you’re in.
Can US Citizens Drink in Canada at 18?
Yes. US citizens who are 18 years of age or older can legally drink alcohol in Canada.
That said, you will only be allowed to consume alcohol if you happen to be visiting Alberta, Manitoba or Quebec.
Unfortunately, if you are in any other part of Canada where the drinking age is 19, you will not be able to legally purchase or consume alcohol.
So, if you’re a US citizen planning to drink in Canada, be sure to familiarize yourself with the drinking age regulations of the province or territory you’ll be visiting.
🍹 How Old Do You Have to Be to Go Clubbing in Canada?
The age requirement for clubbing in Canada can vary depending on the specific establishment and the province or territory in which it is located.
In most provinces and territories, the legal age to enter a nightclub or bar is 19.
Once again, in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec you only have to be 18 or older to enter clubs and bars in these provinces.
That said, even if the legal age is 18 in a specific province, some clubs and venues may have their own policies that require guests to be 19 or older. We have even seen clubs with age restrictions as high as 21.
It’s always a good idea to check the age restrictions of the specific club or venue you plan to visit before heading out for a night of dancing and fun.
🍹 What is the Most Popular Drink in Canada?
Well, if we’re talking about a uniquely Canadian beverage, then it’s hard to overlook the mighty Caesar!
This cocktail has earned its place as a beloved Canadian favourite.
For those unfamiliar, a Caesar is a savoury cocktail made with vodka, Clamato juice (a blend of tomato juice and clam broth), Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and various seasonings.
A Caesar is often garnished with a celery stalk and sometimes accompanied by creative toppings like pickles, bacon, spicy beans, or even mini cheeseburgers.
Canadians have a special affection for Caesars, especially during brunches, patio sessions, and summer gatherings.
It’s like a spicy, tangy, and oh-so-Canadian twist on the classic Bloody Mary.
Personally, I am NOT a fan! I will stick to my glass of 🍷 Canadian wine, thanks!
🍹 What is Canada’s National Alcohol?
As quintessentially Canadian as poutine or even maple syrup, the Caesar proudly holds the title of Canada’s national cocktail.
This zesty cocktail, made with vodka, Clamato juice, and a medley of seasonings, has become an iconic Canadian favourite.
Created in 1969 in a Calgary bar, the Caesar is often enjoyed during social gatherings, brunches, and even as a hangover cure.
I was quite surprised to find out that an estimated 350 million Caesars are consumed each year by Canada’s 35 million residents! Seriously. I had no idea that this drink was so popular!
In fact every year, bars across the country engage in fierce competition during a variety of festivals. This is all in an effort to see who can offer the most unique variations, including an array of creative local garnishes, on this Canadian favourite.
🍹 What Liquor is Canada Famous for?
When it comes to spirits, Canadian whiskey takes the spotlight.
This smooth and distinctive beverage has become synonymous with Canadian drinking culture.
Known for its high quality and craftsmanship, Canadian whiskey has captured the hearts and palates of people around the world.
And if you want to get even more Canadian, try Maple flavoured whiskey! I’m not much for hard liquor, but this is definitely one of my faves.
Whether it’s sipping on a glass of Crown Royal, Canadian Club, or any other renowned Canadian whiskey brand, this beloved liquor has definitely carved its place in Canadian culture.
🍹 What is the Most Popular Beer in Canada?
When it comes to beer, Canada has a thriving brewing scene with a wide variety of popular brands enjoyed across the country.
While preferences can vary among individuals and regions, a few Canadian beer brands have gained significant popularity. Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue are two of the most well-known and widely consumed beers in Canada.
These iconic brands have become synonymous with Canadian beer culture and are often found in fridges and coolers during social gatherings, sporting events, and backyard barbecues.
However, it’s worth noting that Canada’s craft beer industry has also experienced tremendous growth and offers a plethora of unique and flavorful brews.
So, while Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue may hold a special place in the hearts of many Canadians, exploring the vibrant world of Canadian craft beer can lead to exciting discoveries.
🍹 Which Province in Canada Drinks the Most Alcohol?
When it comes to alcohol consumption in Canada, it’s important to approach the topic with sensitivity and avoid generalizations.
However, according to past statistics, the province of Quebec has often been recognized for having higher alcohol consumption rates compared to other provinces.
In fact, Quebecers drank 144 litres of alcoholic beverages per person.
That said, Quebec’s culture and social customs, such as the tradition of enjoying wine with meals and the presence of a vibrant nightlife scene, may contribute to these statistics.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Brunswick seems to have the lowest consumption rates in Canada, with only 102 litres of alcohol being consumed per person.
Of course, it’s important to remember that alcohol consumption varies among individuals. So we are not generalizing based on provincial data, as it may not accurately represent the drinking habits of every resident.
🍹 At What Age Can You Drink in Canada – Final Thoughts
So, there you have it! We’ve explored the fascinating topic of the legal drinking age in Canada.
It’s clear that the drinking age can vary across provinces and territories, with most of them setting it at 19 years old, except for Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where it’s 18.
So, whether you’re enjoying a crisp Canadian beer, a smooth glass of Canadian whiskey, or a classic Caesar cocktail, it’s important to keep the alcohol laws in mind and to drink responsibly and within the legal limits.
So, next time you find yourself in the Great White North, raise a glass, and toast to the diverse drinking culture of Canada.
Cheers, and may your Canadian drinking adventures be both enjoyable and responsible!
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