Purchasing Alcoholic Beverages

The rules on selling alcoholic beverages to young people

Alcoholic beverages may only be sold to people who are 18 or older. This is laid down in the Licensing and Catering Act.

Alcohol content of beverages

Alcoholic beverages with a moderate alcohol content (less than 15%) and spirits (alcohol content of 15% or higher) may only be sold to people who are 18 or older.

Alcohol-free beverages and beverages that have a maximum alcohol content of 0.5% may be sold to minors.

The Licensing and Catering Act defines an alcoholic beverage as any drink that contains more than 0.5% alcohol at an ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.

Selling alcohol and asking for ID

If you are not sure about the age of a customer who wants to buy alcohol, you must ask to see valid ID. This is not necessary if the customer is obviously old enough.

Even if a buyer is 18 or older, it is prohibited to sell them alcohol if it is obvious that they will immediately pass the alcoholic beverage on to someone who is under 18.

Use of false ID

Sometimes young people identify themselves using a fake ID. If the ID cannot easily be recognised as fake without further investigation, then an alcohol seller will not be held accountable for accepting it. But if the ID is clearly a fake (for instance a copy with another photo pasted over the original photo), then the seller can be held accountable and may be fined. Whatever the case, a young person using a fake ID is always criminally liable for committing identity fraud.

Minors and alcohol in off-licences

Anyone under 18 may only enter an off-licence if they are accompanied by someone aged 21 or older. Otherwise off-licences must deny entry to young people under 18. Young people must always be able to show valid ID at the checkout. Off-licences may not sell alcohol to anyone under 18. However, a child or teenager who is in an off-licence accompanied by an adult may pay for soft drinks.

Fines for selling alcohol to minors

Supermarkets, pubs and restaurants that are caught selling alcoholic beverages to people under the age of 18 can be fined €1,360.

If a supermarket is found to have sold alcohol three times in one year to young people without checking their age, the mayor may ban them from selling any alcohol for up to 12 weeks.

If an off-licence, pub or restaurant has been caught more than once selling alcohol to young people without checking their age, they may lose their licence.