Madrid iFAQ - Do they enforce the drinking age in Madrid?

25 October, 2007 (19:52) | Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Amy Menchhofer

Booze!At the tender age of 23 I was carded while waiting to get into a disco. I didn’t have my ID with me and, although my three Spanish companions all proved they were pushing 30 and I insisted that my red metro pass meant I was at least 20, in the end I was denied entry to the bar. So that brings about the question: The drinking age is 18, right? But do they enforce it?

The short answer is no. The long answer is sometimes.

Unless you look extremely young, you’re unlikely to get carded at any neighborhood-type bar or restaurant. If anywhere, you’ll find more resistance at the more “upscale” bars and clubs, particularly those popular with the post-university aged crowd. So if those are your venues of choice, it’s probably best to slip your ID in your pocket.

In regards to purchasing liquor, a similar guideline applies. I’ve been carded once while buying hard liquor at one of the larger bodegas. And it’s not uncommon to see clearly-underaged kids refused service at the local grocery store. Some of them have locked cabinets requiring you to request your drink of choice from the sales staff, and making it impossible for your purchase to slip under the radar. On the other hand, it’s extremely improbable that the non-chain, late-night convenience stores ever request an ID. They also frequently ignore the midnight deadline for purchases.

In short, although lack of an ID will not prevent you from enjoying the famous Madrid nightlife, if you want to guarantee your entry to a disco or grab a bottle of Brugal at the grocer don’t forget your ID!


Comment from Katie
Date: October 25, 2007, 11:25 pm

I agree–better safe than sorry. Funnily enough, the only time I was ever carded here was during my first week living in Madrid, two years ago, in a bar in Malasaña. For whatever (stupid) reason I wasn’t carrying ID and we had to leave. But we were promptly let in to a better bar just down the street ;) .

Comment from Sam Lown
Date: October 26, 2007, 9:37 am

Technically, in Spain and indeed in many other European countries, its actually illegal to go around the streets without a form of identification, so you may have more the bouncers to worry about! (Although I’m sure its very unlikely you’d get stopped by any Guardia Civil.)

Personally, I always carry my driving license with me, not least so I can use my Credit Card, and especially now that the “Tarjeta de Residencia” is near impossible to get hold of! In England, and indeed it seems the US, the laws are for more libertarian and there is no requirement to become a number like in Spain!

Additionally, its actually impossible to buy Alcohol after 10pm in shops in Spain, not midnight unless there is some special license I don’t know of. However, its well known that many of the “chinos”, the corner-shop equivalents, will be more than happy to sell you anything at any time, and probably to anyone!

Cheers, sam

Comment from Amy
Date: October 26, 2007, 1:44 pm

Thanks, Sam. That’s good to know. And you’re right - the cutoff for purchases is 10pm. My mistake. The cash registers at the “reputable” stores simply will not accept an alcohol purchase after that time!

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