What is the Legal Drinking Age in Mexico in 2024?

Knowing the legal drinking age for Mexico is important if you’re planning on visiting Mexico for spring break, a family vacation, or attending a destination wedding. 

Unlike in the United States, the drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old. That means, even those who are considered underage in the U.S. can legally drink in Mexico if they are 18 years or older.

While Mexican drinking laws clearly state that it is prohibited for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase or consume alcohol, after living in Mexico for 6 years now and visiting resorts in places like Cancun and Los Cabos, I can say that this is not always so cut-and-dried.

You may be wondering if there are exceptions if parents are present or if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort – valid questions that we’ll get to later.

Whether or not you decide to drink in Mexico, it’s important to know the laws, be safe, and have a good time!

two glasses of draft beer from Agua Mala Brewery

What is the Legal Drinking Age in Mexico?

From Cancun to Puerto Vallarta, the legal drinking age everywhere in Mexico is 18 years old.

You will need a valid ID, preferably a driver’s license (I don’t recommend taking your passport out of the hotel safe) to purchase alcohol at the store or to buy a drink at a bar. 

If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, they will often check your ID upon check-in and give you a special wristband if you’re of legal age so that you won’t have to be ID-ed every time you want to order a drink. 

Mexico Open Container Laws

It is illegal to have open alcohol containers in Mexico. That means you can not consume alcohol in public outside of bars and restaurants. 

It’s quite common for police officers to patrol public spaces looking for people drinking in public, so unfortunately, you can’t drink that cold Corona while walking the streets of Tulum or having a picnic in the park in Mexico City. 

On several occasions, my friends and I were gathered in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City for a picnic and police came by to check if we were drinking alcohol. If we had been, it would have resulted in a hefty fine. 

Can you Drink Alcohol on the Beach in Mexico?

Jessie sitting on a lounge chair under a palapa at the beach drinking from a coconut.

If it’s illegal to drink in public in Mexico, you might be wondering what about consuming alcohol on the beaches in Mexico.  

This is a great example of how the rules in Mexico can sometimes feel a little hazy. 

While technically public beaches should be included in the “no drinking in public” laws, it seems that Mexican locals prefer to take their chances and bring their beer coolers along without thinking twice about it. 

I wouldn’t do this as a tourist. I would recommend sticking to beachside bars or restaurants where you can safely drink a Corona or Pina Colada with an ocean view while obeying the alcohol laws.

Hotels and resorts will also usually have lounge chairs on the beach where you can order drinks which is another acceptable (not to mention relaxing) way to drink on the beach.

Public Intoxication Laws

You do not want to be visibly drunk in public in Mexico as it is against the law and could lead to an arrest and you will need to contact your embassy immediately. Being caught drunk in public as a minor could ruin your entire vacation.

You also don’t want to look like an easy target for thieves if you’re out on the streets drunk. 

If you feel like you’ve had too much to drink, it’s best to call an Uber to get you back to your hotel safely so you don’t run into any trouble on the way home. It’s always smart to practice safe drinking, no matter what the laws are. 

How Strictly Are Mexican Drinking Laws Enforced?

Although we know that the minimum drinking age in mexico is 18 years old, how strictly that is enforced varies. 

I traveled across Latin America when I was 22 and I found that Mexico checked ID far less when compared to other countries like Colombia. 

Mexico can be very lax about checking IDs, but it just depends on the place. 

However, it is required by law to have an ID when purchasing alcoholic beverages. And you don’t want to run into any problems with the law when you’re in a foreign country, so it’s best to abide by the rules and carry a valid ID just in case you get carded.

Legal Drinking Age in Mexico Resorts

A mixed berry cocktail with basil and blackberry garnishes.

The same laws apply to drinking in resorts as in the rest of Mexico. Guests need to be 18 years or older with a valid ID like a driver’s license or passport. 

I’ve heard of resorts that use wristband systems to make it clear who is and isn’t of age and I’ve heard of resorts that don’t check IDs at all. Strictness will vary from place to place.

Again, it’s best to follow the rules so you and your party don’t get kicked out of the resort or incur any fines. Underage drinking in Mexico is a crime and resorts don’t want to risk their business closing because they were caught serving alcohol to minors. 

Can Minors Drink if Accompanied by a Parent?

There are no exceptions to the legal drinking age in Mexico, even if a minor is accompanied by a parent. 

You may get lucky and not get carded if you look old enough and are with your parents, but I wouldn’t count on it. 

Luckily Mexico has plenty of refreshing non-alcoholic drinks thanks to its abundance of fresh, tropical fruits. 

Best Non-Alcoholic Mexican Drinks

  • Agua de Jamaica- made from an infusion of jamaica flowers, this is a common non-alcoholic Mexican drink that’s a little tart and a little sweet.
  • Limonada- my go-to at restaurants, it doesn’t get much fresher than Mexican limes, water, and a bit of cane sugar. 
  • Agua de Coco- excellent for staying hydrated after long days on the beach, coconut water just tastes better in Mexico. 
  • Fresh juices- from oranges to passion fruits, Mexico has no shortage of fruits for making delicious juices.
  • Horchata- a rich drink made from rice, sugar, and cinnamon, try one of these for your sweet tooth.
  • Coca-Cola- Mexican Coke’s are world-famous. Drink one right at the source from a glass bottle like Coca-Cola originally intended. 

Best Alcoholic Mexican Drinks

  • Michelada- although depending on what part of the country you are in, a michelada usually is a beer mixed with lime and salt, and sometimes extras like tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce. It’s kinda like a bloody mary but with beer!
  • Pina Colada- with its abundance of fresh pineapples and coconuts, Mexico is one of the best places to order a Pina Colada. You can even order it without alcohol. I often do when I just want something refreshing without risking a headache. 
  • Margarita- a simple and refreshing Mexican classic, you can usually have it prepared with tequila or mezcal. 
  • Mezcal- tequila’s hip and smokier-tasting cousin, mezcal is a must-try when in Mexico!
  • Tequila- arguably Mexico’s most famous drink, enjoy it on the rocks, as a shot, or mixed in with your favorite cocktails. 
  • Coco Loco- usually a rum-based cocktail that you sip on straight out of a freshly broken coconut. 

Where to Buy Alcohol in Mexico?

A handcrafted cocktail with a pineapple garnish and a chili powder rim is illuminated on a wooden table inside the elegant Balmori rooftop bar and restaurant.

Beer, wine, and liquor are easily found together in a variety of stores in Mexico. You don’t need to go to a specialty liquor store for hard alcohol like tequila.

You can find your booze of choice at convenience stores like OXXO, 7-Eleven, the local corner store, and any grocery store. 

Mexico even has Costco Wholesale stores nationwide if you’re traveling with a large group and would prefer to save money and buy in bulk. 

If you don’t want to mess with going to the store, of course, there will be no shortage of bars or restaurants that will mix you up something delicious and fresh. 

Mexico Drinking Culture

Drinking is a big part of Mexican culture. Mexicans love to have a good time and get together with friends and family as often as they can. This almost always revolves around good food and drinks. 

I’ve noticed that in Mexico, almost any occasion is a chance to crack open a few cold ones and let the good times roll. It’s not uncommon to see people sipping on 1 liter of beer on a hike up a mountain, drinking on the beach, or while walking around pueblo magicos.

However, it’s important to note that none of these abide by Mexico’s open container laws so I would advise you to not do as the locals do in this case. 

It’s better to stick to consuming alcohol at bars, restaurants, and your hotel so there are no misunderstandings. Oblivious tourists are always an easy target for corrupt cops.

Smoking and Vaping Laws

A stylish bar named Selva in Oaxaca City at night.

Just like the age limit for alcohol consumption, the legal age for smoking in Mexico is 18 years old.

In 2023, Mexico implemented one of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world, banning smoking in all public places. That includes all parks, streets, beaches, and hotels. 

When I first moved to Mexico City I was really surprised by the number of smokers. People would be smoking on sidewalks or when seated at a restaurant table outside, but no more.

Mexico is equally strict about vaping in public and has already banned the import of e-cigarettes as a first step towards an anti-vape bill. 

You may be wondering, what about marijuana? Although it has been decriminalized, it is still against the law to purchasel or possess marijuana in Mexico. Even having CBD on you can get you arrested. 

I know an American who was in the car with friends in Quintana Roo where they were stopped and searched at a routine police checkpoint. The officers found a small amount of weed and everyone in the car was arrested and spent three nights in jail. 

Don’t expect special treatment because you’re a tourist. Follow the rules and you’ll have a great time in Mexico whether you drink or not!

Overview of Mexican Drinking and Smoking Laws

  • The minimum legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old
  • Underage drinking is not allowed even within resorts or if parents are present
  • You must have a valid ID present in order to purchase alcohol
  • It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places like beaches, parks, or on the street
  • It is against the law to be visibly drunk in public
  • Smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes in public is against the law
  • Selling or possessing marijuana is a federal crime 

Final Thoughts

If you’re 18 years or older, you can legally drink in Mexico. Try Mexico’s famous spirits like tequila and mezcal, sip on an iconic Corona by the pool, or indulge in tropical fruit cocktails. Just remember that drinking or smoking in public is never allowed.

If you’re underage, it might seem easy to skirt the rules, but it’s not worth getting fined or spending the night in jail. Mexico is full of incredible experiences whether you drink or not. Some of my absolute favorite things to do in Mexico City don’t involve drinking at all!

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