Drinking age in Iran
Any time you go to a Muslim country, you should expect there to be a restriction on alcohol. Some countries will have an absolute ban on any form of alcohol and some will have it restricted only to Muslims. Many that allow it will require you to have a license or permit to purchase and drink it. Iran is a country that allows non-Muslims to consume, produce and trade alcohol. As such, there is no actual minimum drinking age in the country, they allow visitors to monitor themselves.
Where to Get Alcohol in Iran
Unfortunately, there are no places in Iran that actually legally sell alcohol. Drinks that are for sale in the supermarkets are non-alcoholic. In fact, the most popular drink in the country is non-alcoholic beer. In order to drink in Iran, you need to either bring it into the country with you, make it, or buy it from a non-Muslim who did one or the other.
If you are going to buy someone’s home made brew, be very careful. While a fermented fruit, a drink that would be considered a wine, may not be too big of a health risk, drinking something that someone distilled can be dangerous. It is best to stick with something that was brought into the country from elsewhere.
Visiting Iran and the Customs
When you visit Iran, there really is no reason to drink. It is not done for any type of celebration or holiday by Muslims so the vast majority of the populace are not legal to drink. You will not be offered a glass of wine when visiting someone’s home or anything alcoholic to seal a business deal. It is always best to observe the customs of a country you are visiting to get the feel of the place and fit in without making a spectacle of yourself.
Punishments for Drinking
While there is no minimum drinking age and only non-Muslims are allowed to drink, there seems to be a lot of Muslims getting arrested for consuming alcohol. The punishments for being found to be under the influence are severe and include those with permission to drink. If you are caught in a drunken condition three times, it could mean your life. You do not need to be truly bombed to be arrested, it only takes someone noticing that you had been drinking and are now in public to bring about an arrest. While you will not be condemned to death the first and second ties you are caught, you will still face stiff jail terms and fines.
Knowing the legalities of drinking alcohol in Iran, and the fact that it is illegal for the people of the country to join you in a drink, it is best if you do not drink alcohol at all while in the country. You can go to the store and buy non-alcoholic variations of most drinks. This should be enough to get you through your visit and to a different country where it is not so restricted.