What is the legal drinking age in Germany? (2023)

Are you planning to visit Germany soon, and have you been wondering about the legal drinking age in Germany?

I have created a table as an overview with the different age groups and alcohol types.

What is the legal drinking age in Germany? (2023) pin cover

The legal drinking age applies to the age a person, when they can legally purchase and/or consume alcohol in public in Germany.

The laws are regulated by the Jugendschutzgesetz (JuSchG), which is the youth protection act.

Therefore, the legal alcohol consumption is regulated and restricted in public by the German Government but remains unregulated in private places in all German states.

Austria, to compare, has regulated drinking laws in private properties for different regions, while Switzerland has chosen a lax approach by not forbidding the consumption of alcohol to minors for private and public use.

Drinking in public is a normal practice in Germany and the current drinking laws promote a sense of responsibility among teenagers.

I think this table makes for a good overview of all the restrictions on alcoholic beverages between the various age ranges.

The penalties apply to people in Germany, but also to young people visiting Germany.

Vendors of public selling points, will ask for proof of age, and you will have to show them your legal ID card such as your passport or a driver’s license.

AgeLegal Drinking LawsAlcohol Level in %
below 14 years oldCan not legally drink alcohol in public. It is the duty of the parents to look after the safety of their children.NA
14 years and olderCan drink with legal guardians or a custodial person (i.e., presence of their parents) only beer, wine and sparkling wine in public places. It is the duty of the parents to control alcohol consumption.up to about 18 to 20%
16 years and olderCan purchase legally beer, wine and sparkling wine at a bar, restaurant, festivals, or in a grocery store.up to about 18 to 20%
18 years and olderCan purchase legally distilled alcohol, i.e., hard liquors and spirits, such as gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, alcopops (Bacardi Breezer, Smirnoff Ice) and Schnapps at a bar, restaurant, festicals or in a grocery store. More than 40%

Generally speaking, children and teenagers at a tender age have no business drinking beer, wine or, god forbid, strong spirits.

Alcohol strongly affects the development of children of all ages, and you should always keep that in mind!

Drinkng wine on the old bridge, Brückenschoppen Würzburg
Drinking wine on the old bridge, Brückenschoppen in Würzburg
Youngsters at the Oktoberfest
Youngsters at the Oktoberfest

🍾 Why are Alcopops considered Hard Liquor in Germany?

Be aware that alcopops such as Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice contain less alcohol percentage, but that these have been placed under the hard liquor section.

Alcopops appeared for the first time in the 2000s when we started to go out as teenagers, and back then they were poorly regulated.

Most European governments have imposed higher taxes on alcopops, and Germany set up a prohibition of sale to people younger than 18 years in 2004.

The sweetness masks the alcohol taste, making them taste just like alcohol-free flavored soda pops. This resulted in many accidents and drunken misbehavior, which is due to the high sugar content in this type of drink.

Sugar gets absorbed faster through the bloodstream, and this in turn will get you drunk faster. Especially if you sit and drink and suddenly decide to move. Read more about the science of alcohol absorption.

I learned my lesson back then, but I’m glad that these misleading alcopops are better regulated now.

  • The legal age of maturity is 18 years in Germany and other neighboring countries in Europe. That means you are considered an adult at the age of 18.
  • Drunk driving is prohibited in Germany. The punishment depends on the severity of the drunk driving offense. You can have your license suspended for a month, or you will be heavily fined. The amount of alcohol in your blood is measured with a breath testing kit.
  • The legal driving age is 18 years in Germany. Only L17 learners in Germany can drive earlier, at the age of 16.
  • The laws in Germany align with neighboring EU countries such as the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, and Poland to just name a view.
  • It is ok to refuse alcohol at a social gathering in Germany. Ask for soda pops or alcohol-free beer or wine instead. Alcohol-free drinks are commonly available in all bars and pubs.

💭 FAQs

What are fermented “soft” liquors?

Soft liquors are fermented and contain less alcohol percentage. This includes beer, ale, wine, cider, vermouth, sparkling wine such as champagne, prosecco and crémant. Furthermore, Radler (aka shandy) can be included here. These alcohols are only fermented and not distilled, and therefore the alcohol content ranges between 4% and 18%.

What are distilled hard liquors or spirits?

Hard liquors or spirits are fermented and then single or double distilled liquors. This includes Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, Schnapps, Ouzo, Fenny, Rum, Soju, Tequila, Brandy (i.e. Cognac), Absinthe, and Mezcal among others. The alcohol percentage surpasses 40% in hard liquors. Alcopops such as Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice also fall into this group.

Can you drink in public in Germany?

Drinking in public is sociably acceptable and very normal in Germany, as it’s part of the tradition. Some good examples include the beer culture at the Oktoberfest in Munich and the wine drinking on the old bridge in Würzburg.

What is the legal drinking age in Germany? (2023) pin image

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.