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Can You Use a Passport to Get into a Bar?

Regardless if you’re traveling to another country or remain a local, IDs are a part of a system that enables authorities to verify your identity. They come in various shapes and sizes, but for the most part, they can be in the form of a national ID, driver’s license, or passport.

In most cases, the passport is the document you need when you enter a new country, and it’s the one that you’ll be using the most often.

As part of the traveling experience, some people aim for bars as part of experiencing the local culture through alcoholic beverages.

With that in mind, the question you probably have is, “Can you use a passport to get into a bar?” and the short answer is “Yes.” For the longer answer, keep reading.

Getting into a bar with a passport

The main problem with the question is that it’s too broad and doesn’t cover the topic specifically. Getting into a bar is easy because it’s a place where you can order non-alcoholic beverages, so even a minor can get into some bars. In other words, an ID may not even be required to get in.

Getting into a bar is mainly based on what the manager dictates for the rules of the bar. For example, if minors are allowed into a bar, they will often stamp your hand if you are over 18 to make it easier for the bartenders. When it comes to being served an alcoholic drink, that is determined by the laws of the country you are in on what the minimum age is for drinking.

To sum it up, you can get into a bar with a passport, but if you are allowed to drink, it will depend on the laws and your age.

What forms of ID are Acceptable at a Bar?

In most cases, the passport is the only government-issued document accepted when you leave your country. The national ID or driver’s license are not accepted forms of ID, so you probably won’t be able to.

With that said, there are certain countries where an agreement exists, meaning that you can use the national ID or driver’s license. If we’re talking about a local bar, you may even manage to get in with a student ID, depending on the bar’s rules.

Before traveling to another country, check the local laws to know if you’d be able to use another government-issued ID document.

Can I Buy Alcohol with a Foreign Passport?

Yes, you can, but it depends on which country you travel to. As I explained in the previous section, the passport is the most common document used to verify your identity. In the case of purchasing alcohol, the store or bar will need to verify your age. If you are over the minimum limit, then you can buy a drink with a foreign passport.

In terms of the age limit, I’ve outlined that in a separate section further down this article.

Can I use an expired passport as ID?

No, and there are several problems with this. Each identification document, regardless if it’s a passport or a driver’s license, is valid for a certain period of time. There are several reasons for this, but to ensure that it’s accepted, it needs to be used before the expiration date.

If we’re talking about using an expired passport in a foreign country, then you shouldn’t worry too much. An expired passport will be a problem the minute you decide to leave your own country, and you will be stopped at passport control.

The next obstacle may be when entering the foreign country. Some have stricter rules and avoid letting passengers in with passports that have less than 3 months of validity. This is a system that prevents illegal immigration to the country.

Are digital IDs accepted at pubs?

This is another area that depends on the country’s laws and the pub’s manager. As technology evolves, the need for paper or plastic IDs is becoming obsolete. As a result, government-issued identification documents are becoming digital. It means that you can use them as an ID to get into a pub.

Since the technology isn’t a widespread as we’d like it to be, not all countries and pubs accept them. There are a handful of countries worldwide that issue digital IDs or eIDs, so you can expect pubs in those countries to accept them. For the most part, you are looking at countries in Europe and Asia, including Germany, Spain, India, Israel, etc. You have Chile, Peru, and Uruguay from South America and Mauritius from South Africa from the other continents.

If you are coming from these countries and go to a country that doesn’t accept eIDs, then you may not have success. This all comes down to how the local government treats your digital ID and if the pub will allow you to order an alcoholic beverage.

While you may have luck in some cases, I would recommend double-checking or carrying a traditional ID, just in case.

Are there countries where minors are allowed to drink alcohol?

This is the part where the pubs and bars don’t get to decide what is the minimum age for drinking. Every country has a law that defines the minimum drinking age, and even though in most cases you are looking at a minimum age of 18, some countries stand out.

Countries like the United States and Iraq take it more seriously and have the minimum age set at 21. Things vary slightly in India, and the minimum age ranges from 18 to 25, depending on which state you look at.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, countries like Portugal, San Marino, and Spain allow minors to drink at the age of 16.

Some countries are taking things to the extreme, practicing a total ban on drinking. In this list, we have places like Qatar, Maldives, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia completely ban alcohol consumption.

Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon are countries that take a completely different approach. These are countries that have no ban on alcohol regardless of age.

With this said, there is one crucial aspect worth mentioning. In some countries, you may see a difference between the minimum age to get served and to purchase alcohol from the store. My recommendation is to check the laws in the country you plan to visit so that you know if you’d be allowed or not.

If you are looking for the minimum age for a specific destination, check out this article on ProCon.org where they have put together a list of all the drinking ages of every country.

Can I enter a pub with a photocopy of a passport?

For the most part, having a photocopy of an ID is not a valid document for various reasons. This is why I would recommend using the original document, in this case, a passport, to enter a pub.

Despite that, you may have luck getting in with a photocopy or if you took a picture with your phone. While you may get away with it, I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

Can I be denied access to a pub despite meeting the age criteria?

Yes, and that’s something that you should take seriously. While most pubs and bars will be glad to take you in as a customer, there are some cases where you won’t be allowed to get in. In most cases, that can happen if you’re already drunk or promote indecent behavior, violence, etc. In these cases, the bouncer will have no choice but to forbid you access.

The same can happen if you are already inside and start to do things that can upset the rest of the guests. Again, the bouncer is the person that will ask you to leave and may even throw you out if you don’t comply.

Andov Slavcho

Slavcho Andov is a part-time freelancer and full-time geek. He's a board game enthusiast, tech junkie, amateur photographer and Sith lord. Ohh...and he loves to travel.