The Legal Drinking Age in Toronto

Find out what the legal drinking age is in Toronto

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Want to go to a bar for a drink or buy some beer, wine, or spirits in Toronto? You can - so long as you're old enough and are able to prove it. Here's what you need to know about how old you need to be to do that. The age at which you can drink, buy, or serve alcohol varies around the world, and in Canada, the age varies from province to province. But if you're curious as to how old you have to be in order to imbibe in Toronto, as with all of Ontario, the legal drinking age in Toronto is 19. Here are a few other things to keep in mind about the legal drinking age in Toronto.

Proving You're of Legal Drinking Age in Toronto

When you are at least 19 years old you need to be prepared to show photo ID to prove you're old enough to drink or buy alcohol. There are several options for what type of ID you can use, and these include the following: 

  • Ontario driver's license
  • Canadian passport
  • Canadian citizenship card
  • Canadian armed forces card
  • Certificate of Indian Status Card
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Ontario Photo Card

Alternatively, you can also apply for a BYID (Bring Your Identification) card through the LCBO. The BYID card is endorsed by the provincial government and proves that you're of legal drinking age. The card is only available to people between the ages of 19 and 35 and it will cost you $30 to apply. Pick up an application at any LCBO store or print the form online.

Other Things to Note About Buying Alcohol in Toronto

It's also good to note that the LCBO IDs anyone who they deem to look under the age of 25, so even if you're over 25 (even several years older), don't assume you won't get asked for ID. Always have it with you so you don't get up to the counter and then all of a sudden can't buy that bottle of wine you were hoping to enjoy with dinner. And if you happen to be shopping at the LCBO with someone who is under 19, they aren't allowed to handle alcohol, so make sure they don't try to help you carry any bottles to the counter - it's better to use a basket instead. 

Ontario Health Cards as ID for Drinking

You may think that your Ontario health card would make for good photo ID when you want to buy alocohol, but this isn't the case. Ontario Health Cards have a photo and include your age, but the problem is that because the card is considered part of private health information, staff at bars and other licensed establishments aren't allowed to ask to see it. Because they aren't allowed to ask to see them, Ontario Health Cards aren't on the list of approved ID provided by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This means you can offer your health card at a bar or restaurant and the staff can decide if they're willing to accept it or not. If this is something you're planning to do, it's a good idea to call ahead and ask if the place you're planning on going accepts Ontario Health Cards as ID. Grocery stores that stock beer and wine also do not usually accept Ontario health cards as proof of age so if your shopping list includes a bottle of wine, remember to bring ID you can use to prove your age.

The Legal Drinking Age in Canada (Versus Toronto)

Some people get confused when it comes to the legal drinking age in Toronto and assume it's 18 because that's what it is elsewhere in Canada. In some provinces of Canada, the legal drinking age is lower than in Ontario. In Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba the legal drinking age is 18. The drinking age in Ontario was also 18 up through 1978, but on January 1st, 1979 it was raised to 19, where it has remained ever since.

The Legal Age to Serve Alcohol is Lower

If you want to work in a bar, at an LCBO store, or anywhere else that sells alcohol, you're actually allowed to start doing that at 18 years of age. But if you're any younger than 18, you won't be allowed to do any job that involves tending bar, taking drink orders or money for drinks, serving drinks, or stocking alcohol.

Updated by​ Jessica Padykula

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