The main set of rules governing when you can – and can’t – buy alcohol are contained in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.
The legislation aims to balance the rights of the majority of people who drink responsibly against the need to protect local communities from nuisance and crime associated with the misuse of alcohol.
Here’s what it means for what times shops, pubs and hotels are allowed to sell you a drink.
When can I buy alcohol in supermarkets in shops in supermarkets?
The straightforward law in Scotland is that you can buy alcohol from supermarkets and shops from 10am-10pm seven days a week.
This is distinct from England where you can legally buy alcohol 24 hours a day.
Is it different on Sundays?
It used to be the case that you could not buy alcohol in shops in Scotland until 12.30pm on Sundays, but this is no longer the case.
Some businesses still stick to this rule, and it’s up to individual shops to decide when they want to sell you alcohol within the legal parameters.
When can I buy alcohol in a pub in Scotland?
Licensed premises – including pubs, bars and restaurants – are legally allowed to sell alcohol to be drunk on the premises according to the terms of their licences, which are issued by the local council’s licensing board.
Pubs are not allowed to open before 10am and will generally stop serving drinks at 11pm, while clubs and bars often open until 2am.
Some premises may be open later though, and all licences include a 15 minute ‘drinking up time’ to allow people to finish their drinked after the licensed hours.
When can I buy alcohol in a hotel in Scotland?
If you are staying in a hotel, it’s is legally possible to be served alcohol 24 hours a day – either at a residents’ bar or via room service.
Can I drink alcohol outside in Scotland?
In Scotland, each local council has the power to apply its own set of rules on where those over legal age can and cannot drink in public places.
In some local councils there is a blanket ban (for instance in Glasgow), while others only stop people from drinking in certain areas where it is causing a nuisance (which is the case in Edinburgh).
You can check the rules for any specific council here.