What Is The Drinking Age In Mexico? (& Other Boozy Questions)

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Ashlea J. Russell

Have questions about the drinking age in Mexico?

Every country is different and with legal drinking ages reaching as high as 21 in the US and 25 in parts of India, the draw of countries like Mexico is strong.

Whether you’re heading to Mexico for Spring Break, a graduation trip, or a family vacation, beers on the beach may be part of the plan. And whether you are a teenager or you’re travelling with one, the burning question remains: What is the legal drinking age in Mexico?

Well, I’ve got the answer and answers to all your other boozy questions like what about on flights? Do they check IDs? How about at all-inclusives? What happens if you risk it?

So, let’s get into it!

What Is The Legal Drinking Age In Mexico?

The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old. This is standard across Mexico and does not vary state by state. The legal drinking age in Mexico, at any given time, under any circumstance is 18 years of age.

What is the Legal Drinking Age on a Flight to Mexico?

While the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years, the drinking age on a flight isn’t quite so straight forward. In all my years of working in travel I have been asked this question countless times so I’m going to explain how it works.

The legal drinking age on a flight almost always depends on the country or flag the flight operates under.

  • There are theories that the legal drinking age depends on where the flight originates from or that it changes when you fly over a border but these are travel myths.

For example, if you’re flying from the United States to Mexico with a US carrier like American Airlines, the legal drinking age on board is 21. If you’re flying from the United States to Mexico with Mexican carrier Aeromexico the legal drinking age on board is 18.

In Canada the legal drinking age is set by each province, with the majority of provinces being 19. However flights operated by Canadian carriers have a legal drinking age of 18.

Most European countries also have a legal drinking age of 18, so the legal drinking age on most European carriers is 18.

Watch out for codeshare flights and connecting flights. Whichever airline is operating each flight will have the rules that apply to your flight.

Codeshare flights are when multiple airlines, usually in an alliance, sell tickets on the same flight. For example, you may purchase a flight through Air Canada but at the airport you’ll notice your plane and crew is actually United Airlines. This is very common. Look for “Operated By” when searching flights or reading your ticket to see which airline is running your flight.

For example, if your flight is operated by Air Canada on the first leg and then United Airlines on the second leg, this means the legal drinking age is 18 for the first leg and goes up to 21 for the second leg.

Cabin crew ask for ID while in flight so anyone underage or looking young should be prepared for that.

Do They Check ID’s In Mexico?

The thing about age is that it’s hard to actually tell how old someone is just by looking at them. This is one of the reasons why society introduced the ID card.

And while being ID’ed in places like the US and Canada is pretty common place, you might be wondering if they take the same approach in Mexico.

The truth is: Yes, they do check IDs in Mexico.

Like anywhere, the strictness of ID checking varies in Mexico person by person and place by place. In Mexico, one bartender may check everyone, another may only check a person here or there.

By law, Mexico requires that young adults show photo identification in the form of a passport, driver’s license or ID card when buying alcohol, although you may not have to present this every time.

  • I don’t recommend taking your passport out and about in Mexico, especially when drinking. An ID card or driver’s license is much easier and cheaper to replace if it is lost or stolen.

Under 18s Travelling To Mexico

Drinking age aside, it’s important to note that in order to enter Mexico any minor (17 years old and under) must be accompanied by their parents.

If a minor is travelling with only one parent they must have a notarized letter of authorization from the other parent. They also need to have proof of the relationship between the child and the parent they are travelling with, like a birth certificate where they’re both named.

While this isn’t always enforced, it is the law and it is checked at ports of entry across Mexico.

Unfortunately this means any teen with a birthday that falls late in the year will have to skip any friend trips to Mexico until after they turn 18.

Drinking with Parents In Mexico

Okay, so what if we’re not talking shots and foam parties? Can a 17 year old drink with their parents in Mexico? How about a glass of wine with dinner? Or a cold beer by the pool?

While other countries have some exceptions to the legal drinking age when it comes to adult permission or supervision, unfortunately in Mexico no means no.

The legal drinking age in Mexico is always 18 years old. There are no exceptions to this rule including parental permission or supervision.

While alcohol is out of the question, there are great non-alcoholic options out there. For a cold beer try Corona Sunbrew 0.0% or Sol Cero which can be found in most supermarkets in Mexico and have no drinking age requirements.

Tasty mocktails are also easy to find as well as fresh squeezed juices and naturally flavoured aguas frescas.

While the drinking age in Mexico is 18, there are a lot of delicious non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy like classic Mexican Coke.
Mexican Coke in the glass bottle is one of the most delicious drinks in all of Mexico and it’s alcohol-free!

Drinking Age At All-Inclusive Resorts

All-Inclusive resorts can be a great time, especially for family vacations and group trips. Everything is paid for in advance*, now you just get to float on a giant inflatable flamingo and sip cold drinks all day!

  • In Mexico, all-Inclusive resorts typically have a few exceptions to what’s included. Things like bottles of wine with dinner, top-shelf liquor, and specialty restaurants normally cost extra so don’t be afraid to ask if something is included.

You may think that staying at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico is a good way to sneak past the legal drinking age but they’re one step ahead of you.

Most all-inclusive resorts in Mexico will have a wristband system. This includes specially coloured wristbands for guests under the legal drinking age of Mexico.

Bartenders, servers, and other resort staff are always on the look out for people under the legal drinking age consuming drinks they shouldn’t.

If you or your family/group are found to be breaking the drinking age laws in Mexico you may be asked to leave the resort or be reported to the authorities so I probably wouldn’t risk it.

Buying Alcohol In Mexico

Finding alcohol in Mexico is easy. Alcohol is available in supermarkets, convenience stores like OXXO and 7-Eleven, and specialty liquor, beer, and wine stores. There are also craft and micro breweries, distilleries, and vineyards that sell their own products.

  • Although you can buy alcohol from stores in Mexico you cannot consume it anywhere in public. You can read more about this in the next section.

Alcohol is also sold at stadiums, clubs, bars, restaurants, and even cafes to be consumed on the premises.

All of these places in Mexico have the same legal drinking age of 18 and may ID anyone who looks young.

Alcohol is sold in many different places in Mexico and they all have a drinking age of 18.
A small mezcal shop at a distillery in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.

Drinking Laws In Mexico (At Any Age)

Sometimes there’s a misconception out there that Mexico is some lawless land where anything goes but that’s simply not true. Mexico, like most anywhere, has laws and they expect everyone to abide by them.

Are Drinking Laws Enforced In Mexico?

So, we already know the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but what happens when someone is caught drinking underage? Does anyone even care?

The truth is, the police in Mexico do care about the drinking laws and penalties can range from a monetary fee to jail time.

Mexico has two federal police services, 31 state police services (including two in Mexico City), and over 1,800 municipal police services. So it’s safe to say they take crime seriously.

Getting in trouble with the law anywhere, but especially in a foreign country like Mexico is something everyone should avoid.

  • Being foreign does not exempt you from criminal punishment in Mexico and your government cannot save you from the judicial process.

If you are arrested in Mexico you should immediately request that they notify the Consulate of your home country. Someone from the Consulate will come visit you and will be able to provide certain help.

You can find more information on how to reach your Consulate and what they can and can’t do for you below:

The drinking age in Mexico is enforced but there are many specialty drinks to try at any age like Mexican hot chocolate.
San Cristóbal de las Casas has the best coffee and hot chocolate in Mexico.

Laws You Should Know About When Drinking

Drinking alcohol can be fun and part of a relaxing vacation but when we drink we sometimes make decisions we wouldn’t normally make.

Every country is different and it’s impossible to know all the laws around the world. But when it comes to Mexico, aside from the legal drinking age there are a few alcohol-related laws you should be aware of.

All of the laws below are well-known and enforced in Mexico. Penalties can vary from a warning, to a fine, to time in jail.

  • Drinking under the age of 18 is illegal in Mexico.
  • Having open alcohol containers anywhere in public is illegal in Mexico.
  • Drinking on public streets, parks, beaches and any other public area is prohibited in Mexico.**
  • Stealing and failure to pay for services or bills is illegal in Mexico.
  • Public drunkenness is illegal in Mexico.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in Mexico.
  • Fighting is a crime in Mexico.
  • Disturbing the peace including loud cursing, littering, nudity, throwing bottles is illegal in Mexico.
  • Possession of drugs and drug trafficking are treated the same in Mexico and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

  • **Some businesses in Mexico sell alcohol for consumption in specific outdoor areas of beaches, parks and patios. This is legal as long as you keep your alcohol within the designated area.

New Smoking & Vaping Laws In Mexico In 2023

No, smoking and vaping aren’t alcohol, but they do tend to go hand in hand with drinking. Whether you’re part of the “I only smoke when I drink” crew or a regular smoker or vaper you should definitely be aware of Mexico’s harsh anti-tobacco laws.

As of January 2023 it is now illegal to smoke in all public places in Mexico. This includes parks, beaches, hotels, restaurants, patios, and on the street.

The legal age to purchase cigarettes is 18 however advertisement of tobacco products is illegal and these products cannot be on display. If you would like to purchase tobacco in Mexico you need to ask for it.

Vaping is completely illegal in Mexico. You cannot bring a vape into Mexico and they are not available to buy and sell. You cannot purchase, sell, possess, or use a vape anywhere in Mexico.

The smoking and drinking age in Mexico is 18 but vaping is completely illegal.

Summary: Legal Drinking Age In Mexico

The drinking age in Mexico may be 18 but that shouldn’t discourage younger teens from visiting. Sometimes teenagers can feel left out of adult activities like drinking alcohol but in reality, there’s a lot of fun to be had without it!

Mexico is a vibrant and exciting country with loads to do and see. Ziplining, ATVs, snorkeling, shopping, swimming, and delicious food are just some of the alcohol-free experiences available.

If you or someone you’re travelling with isn’t 18 when visiting Mexico, my advice is to respect the drinking age. It’s not worth ruining a trip to an incredible country like Mexico over something like having a drink.