Drinking Age in Denmark: A Guide for Non-Danes (2024)

Kristian Ole Rørbye


Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian is from Denmark but now lives in Thailand. As a foreigner in another country, he knows the need to get a good start, especially in finance, such as taking out loans, buying a car, and finding the best internet at a reasonable price.

The Danish drinking culture is known for being open and relaxed, with alcohol commonly being part of social gatherings and celebrations. However, like any other country, Denmark has its laws and guidelines concerning alcohol consumption. This guide aims to provide you with a clear understanding of these rules, particularly focusing on the legal drinking age in Denmark

Key Takeaways

  • Denmark's legal drinking age varies based on the alcohol content of the beverage and the place of purchase.
  • ABV (Alcohol by Volume) is a crucial factor determining the legal purchasing age in Denmark.
  • A valid form of ID is required when purchasing alcohol, especially for those appearing to be under 25.
  • Public consumption of alcohol is generally accepted in Denmark, but certain rules apply in specific public places and events.
  • Denmark's drinking culture emphasizes socializing, moderation, and individual responsibility.

The Legal Drinking Age in Denmark

In Denmark, if you want to buy alcohol in shops or supermarkets, the legal age is set based on the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of the beverage. If the drink contains less than 16.5% ABV - such as beer and wine - you can purchase it if you're 16 years or older. For drinks with an ABV higher than 16.5% - which typically includes spirits like vodka, rum, or whisky - the legal purchasing age is raised to 18 years.

When it comes to buying alcohol in bars, clubs, or restaurants, the minimum age is always 18, regardless of the drink's ABV. This means, whether you're ordering a light beer or a potent cocktail, you should be 18 or older to be served.

Understanding these rules can help you make informed and legal choices when it comes to purchasing and consuming alcohol in Denmark. Just as in any other aspect of Danish culture, the regulations around alcohol are rooted in a belief in individual responsibility and respect for community standards. So, whether you're planning to enjoy a glass of Danish beer at a local pub, or savor a bottle of wine from a supermarket, please remember to do so responsibly and within the bounds of the law.

drinking age in denmark

Understanding Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

If you're new to the world of alcoholic beverages or if the concept of Alcohol by Volume (ABV) seems foreign to you, don't worry. It's relatively simple and understanding it is important when it comes to making informed decisions about drinking, especially in Denmark where the legal purchasing age is determined by it.

ABV is a standard measure used worldwide to quantify the amount of alcohol (ethanol) contained in an alcoholic beverage. It is expressed as a volume percent, which means it tells you what portion of the total volume of liquid is alcohol. For instance, if a beer has an ABV of 5%, this means that 5% of the total volume of the beer is pure alcohol.

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Here are some examples of common alcoholic beverages and their typical ABV:

  • Beer: Typically, beer has an ABV ranging from 4% to 6%, although some stronger craft beers can have an ABV as high as 12% or more.
  • Wine: The average ABV for wine is between 12% and 15%, but it can range anywhere from 5.5% (for light dessert wines) up to 20% (for certain fortified wines).
  • Spirits: These are much stronger, with an ABV typically between 35% and 40%. Some spirits, such as absinthe or certain rums, can have an ABV as high as 75%.

Knowing the ABV of what you're drinking is essential. It helps you understand the strength of your drink and can guide you to make responsible drinking decisions. Especially in Denmark, knowing the ABV can also help you understand whether you're legally allowed to purchase the beverage based on your age. So next time you choose a drink, consider the ABV, understand your limits, and always aim to consume alcohol responsibly.

Identification and Purchase of Alcohol

Just like many countries worldwide, Denmark requires a valid form of identification to confirm your age when purchasing alcoholic beverages. If you appear to be under 25, you will likely be asked to present ID when buying alcohol, regardless of where you make your purchase.

Several places sell alcohol in Denmark. Supermarkets, kiosks, and dedicated alcohol and wine stores are commonplace and offer a wide variety of drinks to choose from. Furthermore, you can order alcohol in restaurants, bars, and clubs. Just remember, the rules on legal age still apply no matter where you make your purchase. 

The penalties for underage purchase or consumption of alcohol in Denmark can be severe. They can range from fines to, in some cases, community service. These laws are not only applicable to residents but also extend to tourists and international students. It's essential to respect these rules, not just to avoid potential legal repercussions, but also to ensure your safety and to respect the societal norms of Denmark.

Drinking Age and Public Consumption

Denmark has a fairly liberal approach to public drinking compared to some countries. In general, there are no laws against consuming alcohol in public places such as parks and squares, which is quite common during the summer months.

However, some restrictions are essential to note. Consumption of alcohol is not allowed in public transport, and certain public spaces such as playgrounds and sports facilities may have rules prohibiting alcohol. Always look for signs indicating such restrictions or ask a local if you are unsure.

When it comes to public events like concerts or festivals, regulations on alcohol consumption are typically set by the event organizer. Usually, they follow the standard legal age of 18 for serving alcohol. Always check the rules of the event ahead of time to ensure you're abiding by them.

In Denmark, the freedom to enjoy a drink in the park on a sunny day is seen as a reflection of a society built on trust and respect for individual freedom. As visitors, it's crucial to uphold these values, enjoying this freedom responsibly, and always being considerate of others.

Drinking Culture in Denmark

Drinking alcohol in Denmark is often associated with socializing. From enjoying a beer at a barbeque to celebrating birthdays with a glass of wine, alcohol is a common feature at Danish gatherings. It's a way to unwind, to celebrate, and to strengthen social bonds. That said, binge drinking or drinking to the point of losing control is generally not accepted and is considered irresponsible.

There's an unwritten rule, "Hygge," a Danish term that loosely translates to 'cozy togetherness.' It encourages people to enjoy life's simple pleasures, often in a warm, convivial atmosphere. While "Hygge" may sometimes involve a glass of wine or a beer, the focus is on the company and the ambiance, rather than the alcohol itself.

As an international student or a visitor, partaking in these traditions can be a unique way to immerse yourself in Danish culture. You might find yourself at a social gathering where alcohol is served, but remember, the emphasis is on enjoying the moment and socializing, not on the alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so moderately and responsibly. And if you choose not to drink, that's perfectly acceptable too. In Denmark, the primary purpose of gatherings is the joy of being together.

Resources for Help

While Denmark has a generally relaxed attitude towards alcohol, it's crucial to remember that support is available if you or someone you know faces challenges with alcohol consumption. If you find yourself in a situation where you've consumed too much alcohol or you're feeling uncomfortable due to alcohol-related issues, don't hesitate to seek help.

In Denmark, several organizations offer assistance. Here are a few:

  1. Alcohol & Society (Alkohol & Samfund): This is a national organization that offers advice and support for those facing alcohol-related challenges. They have a range of resources and can also point you towards local support services.
  2. The Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen): This government agency provides guidelines on alcohol consumption and has resources for those seeking help with alcohol-related issues.
  3. Alcohol Rehabilitation (Alkoholbehandling): This is a nationwide network of centers offering treatment for alcohol misuse.

If you're in an emergency situation, you can always dial the national emergency number, 112. If you feel unsafe, or if you or someone else needs urgent medical attention due to alcohol consumption, call this number immediately.

Moreover, if you're an international student, check if your university has a counselling service. Many Danish universities offer support to students dealing with various issues, including alcohol-related challenges.

Kristian Ole Rørbye

ABOUT Kristian Ole Rørbye

Kristian is from Denmark but now lives in Thailand. As a foreigner in another country, he knows the need to get a good start, especially in finance, such as taking out loans, buying a car, and finding the best internet at a reasonable price.

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