What You Need to Know About the Legal Drinking Age in Mexico in 2023
Wondering what the legal drinking age is in Mexico? You’re in the right place!
Millions of tourists flock to Mexico every year, many of them attracted by the country’s reputation for being a party destination.
And while it’s true that Mexico is a great place to let loose and have some fun, it’s important to be aware of the drinking laws before you go.
So whether you’re headed to Mexico for spring break or taking a family vacation with underage children, you’ll want to know the facts on drinking legally in Mexico.
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen and have seen firsthand the unfortunate consequences that can happen when people don’t drink responsibly in Mexico.
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about the legal drinking age in Mexico, as well as important laws, restrictions, and safety tips to be aware of before you travel.
Read on to find out how old you have to be to drink in Mexico!
What is the legal drinking age in Mexico?
The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old across the entire country. This means that if you’re visiting from a country with a higher drinking age (like the United States), you can drink legally in Mexico even if you’re not old enough to do so at home.
Legal Drinking Age in Mexico at Resorts
When it comes to drinking at all inclusive resorts in Mexico, the legal age is 18 years old.
Most resorts will verify ages at check-in by requiring a passport or valid photo identification from all guests.
Any underage guests may be given a colored bracelet to differentiate them from guests of legal drinking age. This way the bartenders will know not to serve them alcohol.
Legal Drinking Age in Mexico with Parents
If you’re traveling to Mexico with underage children or young adults, you may be wondering if they’re allowed to drink under parental supervision.
The legal age for drinking in Mexico is 18 years of age and exceptions are not made if drinking with parents or a legal guardian in public.
So if you want to give your child a sip of your margarita, be sure to do so in the privacy of your hotel room.
Is the legal drinking age in Mexico enforced?
Of course, just because Mexico’s legal drinking age is 18 doesn’t mean that everyone abides by the law. You may find that some places will not check IDs and serve alcohol to minors.
However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and only consume alcohol if you’re of the legal age in Mexico to drink. It’s not uncommon for police to be patrolling the streets in the main tourist areas.
Many young people come to Mexico and think it’s a free for all when it comes to drinking, but this isn’t always the case.
The laws may be more lenient in tourist areas but that doesn’t mean you won’t get in trouble if you’re caught breaking them.
Do you have to show an ID to drink in Mexico?
While the legal age to drink in Mexico is 18 years old, you most likely will not be asked to show an ID when ordering drinks in Mexico.
Of course, this is at the bar’s discretion, but pretty much as long as you look old enough, most bars in the main tourist destinations will not ask for an ID.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked for an ID when ordering drinks at a bar or restaurant in Mexico.
However, if you’re staying at a resort, you will be required to show a passport or valid photo ID when checking in.
At any rate, it’s always a good idea to carry a valid photo ID just in case proof of age is requested. I would recommend just carrying a driver’s license rather than your passport to avoid any potential problems if it gets lost or stolen.
Drinking Laws in Mexico
Of course, just because Mexico’s drinking age is lower doesn’t mean that alcohol is unregulated.
There are still Mexico drinking laws in place regarding where and how alcohol can be sold, and it’s important to be aware of these before you start drinking.
Open Container Laws in Mexico
Open alcohol containers are not legal in Mexico, so you’ll want to avoid drinking open alcohol in public. If you’re buying drinks from a bar or club in a disposable cup, be sure to finish them before leaving.
However, this law is not widely enforced. For example, on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, it’s not uncommon to see tourists drinking beers or yards from Senor Frog’s while walking down the street.
Public Intoxication Laws in Mexico
It’s also important to note that public drunkenness is not tolerated in Mexico and is against the law if you drink above the legal limit.
If you’re caught drinking in public or causing a disturbance while intoxicated, you could be fined or even arrested.
Police and military patrols are common in Mexico, especially in the tourist areas, so it’s best to avoid any problems around alcohol abuse by not drinking heavily in public. The last thing you want to happen is jail time in a foreign country.
Restrictions on Purchasing Alcohol in Mexico
Many states in Mexico have specific restrictions in place around the purchase of alcohol.
These laws can vary widely depending on the state or city you’re visiting in Mexico, so it’s best to check local restrictions before your trip.
Sale of Alcohol on Sundays in Mexico
Some states in Mexico have restrictions on buying alcohol on certain days and times of the week.
For example, where I live in Playa del Carmen, you can only buy alcohol in grocery stores or convenience stores on Sundays from 9AM-5PM.
From Monday-Saturday, the purchase of alcohol is also restricted to certain hours depending on the establishment. In the grocery stores, they will actually rope off the liquor and wine section in the store during these times.
These Mexican laws however usually do not apply to bars and restaurants in the main tourist areas. You can still purchase alcohol here and it is only restricted in grocery, convenience, and liquor stores.
Sale of Alcohol on Election Days in Mexico
Another restriction that is in place in some states in Mexico is that the sale of alcohol is prohibited on election days.
For example, a dry law may be put in place on election days prohibiting the sale of alcohol for 24-48 hours while the election takes place.
This dry law tends to be more lenient in bars and restaurants in the main tourist destinations but will still be strictly enforced in grocery stores and convenience stores.
Safety Tips for Drinking in Mexico
Follow these important safety tips for drinking in Mexico:
- Drink responsibly: While Mexico is definitely a place to let loose and have some fun, it’s always important to drink responsibly, know your limits, and avoid binge drinking. If you’re drinking in Mexico, be sure to pace your alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water. If you do plan to drink heavily, make sure to do so in the safety of your hotel room or with people you know and trust.
- Don’t go out in public intoxicated: Public drunkenness is not tolerated in Mexico and you could get arrested or fined if you’re caught. Police patrols are very present in the most popular tourist areas in Mexico, so it’s best to avoid any potential problems by not drinking or causing a scene in public places. If you plan to drink heavily, it’s best to do so at the resort area or in your hotel room.
- Don’t be a target: Unfortunately, there are always people looking to take advantage of tourists, especially those who are intoxicated. This can even be true of police officers, who sometimes target intoxicated tourists for a bribe. Avoid being a target by not carrying large amounts of cash and not flaunting valuable possessions.
- Be careful of tainted alcohol: In recent years, there have been reports of tainted alcohol at resorts in Mexico, so it’s important to be careful when drinking. While this is not the norm, it’s best to consume alcohol only from licensed bars, know your limits, and avoid drinking alone especially if you are a female. If you’re concerned about the source, stick to beer instead of mixed drinks.
- Never leave your drink unattended: This is a good rule of thumb to follow no matter where you are, but it’s especially important in Mexico. If you leave your drink unattended, there’s a chance it could be spiked with drugs or alcohol. Always keep an eye on your drink or keep a hand over it to avoid any tampering.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers: There have been reports of drinks being spiked with drugs, so it’s best to only drink beverages that you’ve seen being made or that come from a sealed bottle.
- Don’t stay out late alone: It’s always best to exercise caution when out late at night and avoid staying out late alone, even if it’s at the hotel bar. If you plan on drinking, it’s best to do so in a group and to stay in well-lit and populated areas.
- Don’t drink and drive: As in most countries, drunk driving is illegal in Mexico. It’s not uncommon for there to be traffic checkpoints on the main roads where police will pull you over and search your vehicle or perform a breathalyzer test. If you do drink too much alcohol, use public transportation or take a taxi.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking alcohol can dehydrate you, so it’s important to drink plenty of water when consuming alcoholic beverages. Since the tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink, you’ll want to stick to bottled or purified water when visiting.
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Mexico Legal Drinking Age: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Mexico drinking age:
No, you cannot drink legally in Mexico at age 16. The minimum age for drinking alcohol in all states is 18 years old and underage drinking is not allowed.
Yes, the legal drinking age in Cancun is 18 years old. That means you can drink alcohol at all inclusive resorts, bars, restaurants, and clubs if you are at least 18 years old. This makes Cancun a popular spring break destination for underage college students.
The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Mexico can vary depending on the state. Most Mexican states have a legal BAC limit of .08 but it is lower in some states such as Chihuahua, Estado de Mexico (including Mexico City), Jalisco, and Veracruz.
Yes, a U.S. citizen can drink in Mexico if they are at least 18 years old, which is the minimum legal drinking age.
The legal drinking age in all of Mexico is 18 years old. You can drink alcohol in bars, restaurants, and clubs if you meet the 18 years old age limit.
Conclusion: Legal Drinking Age in Mexico
I hope this article has helped clear up any confusion about the Mexican legal drinking age! Mexico is such a fun destination and there’s nothing like enjoying a margarita or cerveza by the pool.
Just remember to drink responsibly, use common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and follow the safety tips listed above to enjoy your Mexico vacation safely and responsibly.
And aside from drinking margaritas by the pool, be sure to check out some of the amazing archaeological sites, vibrant cultural experiences, and many beautiful beaches that can be found all over Mexico.