Alcohol, young people under 18 and the law

There are strict laws on alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland. These are contained mainly in the Licensing (NI) Order 1996 and the Registration of Clubs (NI) Order 1996. You should check that you are not breaking the law by allowing your child to drink.

Under 14s

Anyone under the age of 14 may only consume alcohol in a private house and only for medical purposes under the Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968.

However, because young people take longer to process alcohol than adults, it is a good idea for them to drink less, or not to drink at all. Alcohol poses particular risks to young people under 15 and Government advice is that children under this age should not drink.

Under 18 years old

Anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed in any bar area of licensed premises or registered clubs.

However some licensed premises hold a children’s certificate that allows:

  •  a young person accompanied by an adult to be in the bar area (but not at the bar) in premises up to 9.00 pm
  • a young person to stay on the premises until 9.30 pm to consume a meal purchased before 9.00 pm

A young person under 18 is allowed to be in:

  • an off-licence, if they are accompanied by an adult
  • a refreshment room at railway station, airport, harbour terminal or bus station
  • a sporting club until 10.00 pm
  • any part of an indoor arena or outdoor stadium containing a kiosk or other sales point which sells alcoholic drinks as well as food and non-alcoholic drinks

Buying or consuming alcohol

Anyone under 18 is not allowed to buy alcohol or consume alcohol in a place other than a private house under the Licensing (NI) Order 1996.

It is an offence for a person to:

  • buy alcohol for consumption by a person under 18
  • send a young person under 18 to get alcohol from a licensed premises

It is an offence for a licence holder to:

  • sell alcohol to a person under 18 for consumption on or off the premises
  • sell alcohol to any person for consumption by a person under 18 either on or off the premises
  • permit a young person under 18 to consume alcohol in licensed premises

Towns and cities may also have local bye-laws banning drinking alcohol in public.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.