What is the drinking age in Toronto?

The legal drinking age is an important law in most places, and Toronto isn’t left out. The city has restrictions on what age a person must be before buying and drinking alcohol, and everyone living in or visiting the city should be aware of the rules. So, what is the drinking age in Toronto?

The drinking age for Toronto is 19 years. This applies to Ontario but not the whole of Canada. However, anyone up to 18 can work in a liquor establishment. You can prove your age with a driver’s license, passport, citizenship card, BYD card, SIS card, permanent resident card, and armed forces card.

Each province and territory in Canada has its drinking age. It’s generally either 18 or 19, so it’s important you ask. This article talks about the legal drinking age in Toronto and how you can prove that you’re old enough to drink in the city.

Minimum Drinking Age in Toronto

A person must be at least 19 to purchase alcohol in Toronto. It used to be 18 until the late 1970s, when the provincial government raised it to 19 due to the drunkenness of high school students. Thus, it’s illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 19. It’s also against the law for someone of the legal drinking age to pass the alcohol to someone below the age.

Since the drinking age here is 19, anyone up to 19 can buy and drink alcohol in Toronto regardless of the laws on the drinking age where the person is from. So, it’s possible for American tourists above 19 but below 21 to drink in Toronto. However, there are laws against drinking and driving and the standard of alcohol in your blood here to fall foul of the DUI law is strict. There are also laws against drinking in public parks.

Minimum Age for Working in a Liquor Sales Establishment

While the minimum age for drinking is 19, anyone up to 18 can work in an establishment where alcohol is available for sale, such as a bar, retail brewery store, distillery, winery, or authorized grocery store. It doesn’t matter whether such a person might handle or not handle alcohol.

How To Prove Age

Generally, the staff of any liquor establishment will only allow those who are of age to gain access to such places where they can buy the alcohol. In cases where the staff is in doubt as to the person’s age, they can ask for valid means of identification to prove the person’s age. Acceptable means of identification in Canada must be government-issued, current, and include the person’s photo and date of birth. The following means of identification are valid:

1.   International passport

Generally, a passport is one of the best means of identification when buying liquor in Toronto. This is especially so for foreigners who usually have no other means of identification. Thus, tourists can present their international passports as a means of identification when buying a drink. US residents in Canada can also use their passport card, which is a travel document that Americans can use to gain entry into neighbouring countries such as Canada and Mexico without having their passports. The passport card is government-issued and has a photo of the cardholder.

2.   Driver’s License

People with a driver’s license can present their license as a means of identification when buying alcohol in Toronto. Generally, all Canadian driver’s licenses will be accepted, and the same could also apply to licenses issued by the DMV in the US. But for residents of other countries, a passport is a better choice. There are countries where the residents have to have an International Driver’s Permit before being allowed to drive in Canada. It may not be enough for these citizens of countries to present a driver’s license.

3.   Canadian Citizenship Card

This card is proof that a person is a Canadian citizen. Canadians have to apply for the card, and only people above 18 can file an application for the card, even on behalf of minors. This card is also a photo card with all the required information needed to confirm the age and identity of a person.

4.   Bring Your ID (BYD) Card

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) issued the BYD card to people between 19 and 35. The sole purpose of this card is to confirm that the holder is up to 19 and can now legally purchase alcohol in the province. A person can apply for this card before reaching the drinking age, but it will only be processed and issued when they turn 19. The card costs $30 by money order or certified cheque payable to LCBO alone. The processing and mailing will take about four weeks. There are requirements to be met when applying for the card.

5.   Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card

This card is for those who are serving in the Canadian armed forces. There are also cards for those who have served and their families in some cases. Such cards include the CFOne card and Veteran’s service card, and if they have the required photo and birth date, they’ll be accepted as means of identification.

6.   Secure Indian Status Card

This is a government-issued card that confirms a person is a status Indian as defined by the Federal Indian Act. Generally, all indigenous people recognized as Indians by law can have this card, and it is an acceptable means of identification in Ontario when buying a drink.

7.   Permanent Resident Card

Almost everyone has a card in Canada, including permanent residents. This card is an ID and a travel document for the holder. But it doesn’t just help you prove your status as a resident in Canada. It can also help you buy a drink.

In Conclusion

Toronto has strict rules against alcohol consumption, courtesy of Ontario. Whether you’re a resident or tourist here, you should be aware of the alcohol laws in the city as there are serious consequences such as fines for breaking such laws. For tourists, breaking the alcohol laws might lead to deportation or affect your chance of entering the country again.

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