Age and the law
The law about supply to young people
In some circumstances, people under 18 may be allowed in licensed premises even though they are not allowed to buy alcohol.
It is illegal to supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years unless:
- the person supplying the alcohol is the parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner, or
- the person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the young person’s parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.
You could be fined up to $2,000 if you don't follow the law.
There is no age at which it is illegal to drink alcohol in New Zealand.
Young people (18+ years) need to provide photographic proof of age to purchase alcohol or to get into some types of licensed premises.
The forms of ID that have been approved under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013 are:
- any current passport
- a current New Zealand driver licence
- a Hospitality NZ 18+ Card - New 18+ Cards are no longer available but existing 18+ Cards continue to be valid ID for 10 years from the date of issue.
- a Kiwi Access Card - This new Hospitality NZ card replaces the 18+ Card and is available for both NZ nationals and foreign visitors. The card will cost you $55 and is valid for 10 years. You can download a Kiwi Access Card application form or pick up one up at your nearest NZ PostShop or AA Centre. For more information and FAQs, go to the Kiwi Access Card website.
Parents and guardians
To supply alcohol to under-18s responsibly you should:
- supervise the consumption of alcohol
- provide food
- provide a choice of low-alcohol and/or non-alcoholic drinks
- ensure safe transport options are in place.
When deciding if alcohol is supplied responsibly you need to consider:
- the nature of the occasion
- the time period over when the alcohol is supplied
- the strength and amount of alcohol supplied
- the age of the minor.
‘Parent’ means natural, adoptive or foster parent.
‘Guardian’ means a person who has all the duties, powers, rights and responsibilities that a parent has in bringing up their child, as detailed in the Care of Children Act 2004. This includes providing day-to-day care for the child, contributing to the child’s intellectual, emotional, physical, social and cultural development and helping to determine questions about important matters that affect the child.
For the majority of minors, their guardian is their parent. For others establishing legal guardianship requires a formal legal process, it is not just being involved in the day-to-day care of a child.
Young People in Licensed Premises
New Zealand has the following designations of who may be in what area of a licensed premise:
- Restricted: No one under 18 years may be on that part of the premises unless they are employed to prepare or serve a meal, clean or repair etc, remove or replace equipment, stocktake, check or remove cash.
- Supervised: No one under 18 years may be on that part of the premises unless they are accompanied by their parent or legal guardian, or are employed to sell or supply alcohol, or to prepare or serve a meal, clean or repair etc, remove or replace equipment, stocktake, check or remove cash. Someone under 18 can only be employed to provide entertainment when accompanied by the individual's parent or legal guardian. Most bars are designated as supervised.
- Undesignated: Anyone of any age can be on that part of the premises. Minors (under-18s) can be employed to sell or supply alcohol, provide entertainment, or to prepare or serve a meal, clean or repair etc, remove or replace equipment, stocktake, check or remove cash. Most restaurants and club premises are undesignated.
Alcohol cannot be sold to a person under 18 under any circumstance.
SSAA Regional Forums
The aims of the forums were to better understand how well the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 Act was working, the challenges associated with its implementation and the options for responding to these challenges. The forums were aimed at those involved with administering, monitoring and enforcing the Act.
- Community perspective [PPTX, 95KB]
- Inspector perspective [PDF, 20KB]
- District Licensing Committee perspective [DOCX, 21KB]
- Medical Officer of Health perspective [PPTX, 897KB]
- Local alcohol policies [PPTX, 103KB]
- Community perspective [DOCX, 22KB]
- Inspector perspective [PPTX, 209KB]
- District Licensing Committee perspective [PPTX, 975KB]
- Medical Officer of Health perspective [PDF, 1.07MB]
- Local alcohol policies [PPTX, 106KB]
- Inspector perspective [PPTX, 208KB]
- District Licensing Committee perspective [PPTX, 80KB]
- Medical Officer of Health perspective [PPTX, 1MB]
- Local alcohol policies [PPTX, 107KB]
- Community perspective [Video]