Can you buy alcohol in Canada with a United States ID?

Every year, millions of Americans visit Canada for various purposes. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, alcohol is an item that can always come into play. In turn, you’ve got to know the relevant alcohol laws. So, can you buy alcohol in Canada with a United States ID?

There are age restrictions on alcohol consumption in Canadian provinces. As such, you’ll need to produce an ID confirming if you’re eligible to buy alcohol. However, all government-issued means of identification, including those of the United States, are acceptable for purchasing alcohol in Canada.

However, buying alcohol in Canada can be a little complex because the age restrictions differ. For example, in some provinces, it’s 18 while it’s 19 in others. That being said, this article discusses all you need to know about buying alcohol in Canada with your United States ID.

Can You Buy Alcohol In Canada with a United States ID?

Suppose you’re a United States citizen in Canada on a business or pleasure visit and need to drink alcohol. In that case, your United States government-issued means of identification is enough for you to get any drink from any bar.

In addition, while the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, it’s lower in Canada. This means you can get to drink in Canada even though you cannot legally drink in the United States yet.

What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada?

As stated before, the legal drinking age in Canada is lower than that of America. It’s also different across the territories and provinces in the country.
In Alberta, Manitoba, and  Quebec, the drinking age is 18. For the rest of the seven provinces and three territories, the legal drinking age is 19.

While each territory and province have its legal drinking age, they all accept government-issued ID from the United States as a means of identification when you’re buying alcohol.

Acceptable Means of Identification

Generally, all means of identification are acceptable as long as the government issued them. But there are times when the state may require a secondary means of identification to prove the primary.

United States government-issued ID that you can use to buy alcohol in Canada include.

1. Passport

The essence of a means of identification is to confirm that you’re up to the legal age and prove your identity. This means you can use your United States passport to identify yourself when buying alcohol in Canada. 

As long as it has your name, date of birth, and picture, you’re good to go.

You may have to combine it most times with a recent passport photograph if your picture on the passport is very old.

However, passports alone are generally acceptable throughout Canada, and as long as you meet the legal age, you can buy the alcohol you want.

2. Passport Card

The United States passport card serves a similar function as a passport. It was created so that there can be a smaller and wallet-sized ID for travelling.

You can use the passport card to travel by land or sea between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. 

It has the same rights as the regular passport book except for the limitation on using it for international air travel or any other country apart from the one listed.

If you’re in Canada and don’t have your passport book with you, you can use the United States passport card to buy alcohol.

3. Driver’s Licence

You can use your DMV-issued driver’s licence to buy alcohol in Canada.

It has all the important information needed to prove your identity: name, picture, and date of birth. It’s even possible to use an expired driver’s license to buy alcohol in Canada.

What’s essential is that the ID contains the information needed to confirm your identity and age.

4. State Issued ID Card

The DMV in each state in the United States can also issue a state ID card.

Unlike the driver’s license, which gives the bearer the endorsement to drive, the state ID card is simply a means of identification. You can use this card to buy alcohol in Canada as it’s recognized.

5. Department of Defence ID Card

Those in the military or employed by the department of defense also get identity documents relevant to their status. This card can be used to buy alcohol while you’re in Canada.

Secondary Means of ID

You can also be asked to show a secondary means of identification when you’re buying alcohol.

This secondary means of ID exists solely to confirm the government-issued ID you present to the person selling you alcohol.

Such means of ID include your student ID, Credit Card, etc. Generally, it should contain your name and picture or signature.

A secondary ID is not a requirement in most states. But it’s part of the requirements for buying alcohol in British Columbia province.

So, if you’re visiting Vancouver or any of the amazing places, don’t be surprised if the bartender asks for more than just your government-issued ID.

What Are Considered Illegal In Canada In Relation to Alcohol?

Some acts have been declared illegal by the alcohol laws in Canada and are considered to be crimes. Doing them may carry penalties, deportation, or even imprisonment. Here are some:

  • Public intoxication is a crime in Canada, and the police may arrest you if found drunk in a public space
  • The police may seize any open liquor found in your car while you’re driving
  • It’s illegal to have open liquor in your motor vehicle regardless of whether the vehicle is mobile or not
  • It’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol
  • It’s unlawful to drink or have alcohol while below the stipulated minimum age in each province 
  • It’s illegal to buy alcohol or enter a bar using a fake ID


As a US resident visiting Canada, you can use your government-issued means of identification to buy alcohol in the country.

However, you have to meet the legal minimum age for drinking, which can be either 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory you find yourself in.

While the alcohol purchase standards in Canada are less strict than what applies in the United States, you still need to abide by the rules and avoid illegal activities.

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