While in Moscow, I went to the store around 11:30pm to buy some beer, and the cashier checked her watch and said no.

Why am I not allowed to buy alcohol at the store after 11pm in Russia?

  • 22
    Come to Norway - here you're not allowed to buy beer in shops after 20:00 on weekdays and 18:00 on Saturdays. As for strong-beer, wine and liquor; these are only sold at the state-owned Vinmonopolet (Wine-monopoly) which closes at 17:00 on weekdays and 15:00 at Saturdays. One of many things done to reduce excessive drinking - price (form taxes) is another. Sep 7, 2016 at 16:15
  • 5
    It's because Russia is free-er country than, for example, Canada. Here you typically cannot buy liquor after around 9 p.m. and on Sundays and Holidays (using the province of BC as an example). This is simply because your government-run liquor store are closed. I haven't heard of any 24/7 store in Canada that is licensed to sell liquor; Google comes up with nothing.
    – Kaz
    Sep 7, 2016 at 19:06
  • 11
    This is law - there is no "why". Or properly speaking the "why" is: Because legislators decided so.
    – Nobody
    Sep 7, 2016 at 21:34
  • 9
    @Nobody And why did they decide so? It seems unlikely that they were just yanking 145 million people's chains. Sep 8, 2016 at 7:24
  • 7
    @DavidRicherby the "why" question does not belong to this forum. That question would be like asking why one should drive on the right side in the USA. The fact that Russia is "exotic" to most of the audience would not make that a "travel" question. The OP question could be on-topic if understood as "Was I denied alcohol because I was a foreigner" or even "Does it apply to all of Russia".
    – SJuan76
    Sep 8, 2016 at 8:35

3 Answers 3


It's a law that's designed to reduce public drunkenness / alcoholism, especially at night when you don't want loud, rowdy and sometimes violent drunk people in the streets. Sometimes vendors try to circumvent these laws by selling e.g. a very expensive plastic cup that comes with a free can of beer when you buy it : ), but there have been crackdowns on such things, I don't know how the current situation is and I suspect it varies from city to city (and I've seen that in some places the locals who are prone to drinking know very well how to still get alcohol after the cut-off time). By the way, if you think that not selling alcohol after 11 is strange, check out the "no alcohol on the 1st day of the month" law in Mongolia!

See e.g. this site (in Russian) which talks about the restriction on alcohol sales, including beer, from 11pm to 8am, Russia-wide, except for cafes/bars/restaurants and duty-free stores.

  • 6
    @RugDealer you can google some articles on the topic, e.g. this one. And as noted, selling restriction times may differ as the law is enforced locally. E.g. in St. Petersburg you can't buy alcohol from 22 to 11 as opposed to 23-8 in Moscow.
    – Vilmar
    Sep 7, 2016 at 14:28
  • 1
    @pnuts Indeed. Until recently there were similar laws in the UK banning the sale of alcohol after 11pm, even in licensed premises. They were relaxed only in 2005.
    – Bob Tway
    Sep 7, 2016 at 14:59
  • 1
    This is also true in some US states- for example, a convenience store may have ice-cold beer sitting in the cooler, but if it's one minute after 1AM and you're in Ohio you're out of luck (actually they probably cut off a bit earlier so they don't get fined for the sake of a couple minutes). Sep 7, 2016 at 15:44
  • 2
    @MattThrower Similar laws still exist in Scotland, where alcohol can only be sold between 10am and 10pm. The change was not a UK-wide one. Sep 8, 2016 at 17:36

Rules regarding alcohol production, sales and consumption are governed by Federal law N 171-ФЗ. Chapter II article 16 paragraph 5 says:

  1. Не допускается розничная продажа алкогольной продукции с 23 часов до 8 часов по местному времени, за исключением розничной продажи алкогольной продукции, осуществляемой организациями [...] услуг общественного питания, а также розничной продажи алкогольной продукции, осуществляемой магазинами беспошлинной торговли.

Basically, only public catering facilities (like restaurants and bars) and duty-free shops can legally sell alcohol in Russia between 11pm and 8am. Note that in many regions restaurants and bars are only allowed to serve you alcohol to be consumed on site and are specifically forbidden to sell closed bottles.

  • 3
    Just highlighted an exception so if someone really wants to get drunk...
    – Karlson
    Sep 7, 2016 at 16:07
  • 10
    For those that don't speak Russian, a Google translation: It is not allowed retail sales of alcoholic beverages from 23 pm to 8 pm local time, with the exception of retail sale of alcoholic beverages undertaken by organizations, private (peasant) farms, individual entrepreneurs, recognized agricultural producers, and retail sale of beer and beer drinks, cider Poirot, mead carried out by individual entrepreneurs in the provision of such organizations (peasant) farms and individual entrepreneurs catering services as well as retail sales of alcoholic beverages exercised the duty-free shops.
    – Johnny
    Sep 7, 2016 at 16:15
  • 9
    @Johnny I wonder where Google translate took the 8 pm from. It's literally "8 hours" in the text, meaning 8 in the morning. Sep 7, 2016 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Johnny Likely "часов" then means "hour" and what they are literally saying is "It started snowing at hour five." (and that it's pm is maybe implicit and if it was am they would say something like "in the morning"). But just an idea, don't speak Russian either... That pm/am thing is really an English thing, in German and French no equivalent exists.
    – Nobody
    Sep 7, 2016 at 21:40
  • 6
    @Johnny I guess, statistically the expression "at five" is often followed by "pm" in English and by the word "hour" in Russian, so online translators assume "hour"="pm". A few years ago, Google translate was consistently translating "Made in USA" by the equivalent of "Made in %countryname%" in that county's national language. Sep 7, 2016 at 22:28

Such laws are common around the world, not just Russia.

There are two dominant reasons for this.

The Russian Government is very concerned about alcoholism (Reference Article) and has passed laws restricting the sale to combat this.

Also, Blue Laws, as term used in the US, and also very common in other western countries, may be in effect locally. More here: Blue Laws

The reasons and traditions behind them might be different, but the effect is the same.

Either way, you can't buy beer after 11pm because it's against the law.

If you want to know the specific reason for the law where you are*, apart from the national statute, you can ask some of the locals. But expect many, especially younger, to not know. This definitely the case here in the US.

*In the US Blue Laws can and do change by State, County or City.

  • 5
    There's no reference to Russia in that wiki you link to, could you back up your claim that it's the law in Russia not to sell after 11pm ?
    – blackbird
    Sep 7, 2016 at 13:37
  • 3
    The link is an explanation of Blue Laws in general.
    – DTRT
    Sep 7, 2016 at 13:45
  • (+1) Even if it does not reference Russia specifically, I feel this provides useful background to address the question "why". But is it really what's going here? The article is about Sunday and religious motivations, not about evenings.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 7, 2016 at 13:56
  • 4
    Explanation for Russia is more practical and than religious background of Blue Laws.
    – Karlson
    Sep 7, 2016 at 14:18
  • 3
    No, not in the US. Grocery and convenience stores remain open, just cannot sell alcohol. Technically, 'bars' can stay open too, just not selling Alcohol.
    – DTRT
    Sep 7, 2016 at 15:18

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