Age and the Law

Growing up can be hard; you get more and more responsibility but sometimes it can be difficult to know when you stop being a child and become an adult. Different religions have coming-of-age ceremonies to signify when people become adults. Below is a list of the different things you can do and the age that you can do them according to British law. (Please note we are not able to give legal advice and that you seek professional legal advice before following any of the below)

 

Age 5

  • You must be in full-time education.
IMG_6145

Age 10

  • You are responsible for any crimes you commit and can be convicted. You won’t be tried as an adult and instead will go to a youth court and receive different sentences [1]
  • You will go to a youth prison and not an adult prison [2]
  • The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is 8 years old [3]

 

Person in Car

Age 12

  • You can see, rent and buy 12A rated films without an adult [4]

Age 13

  • You can get a part-time job (there are lots of rules around what sort of job and when you can work. Find out more here [5]

Age 14

  • You are responsible for wearing your seatbelt whilst in a car (and can be fined if you don’t wear one) [6]

Age 15

  • You can see, rent and buy 15 rated films without an adult [7]

Age 16

  • You can drink beer, cider or wine with a meal if you are with a person over the age of 18 [8]
  • You can join the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines or Royal Navy with your parent/guardian’s consent [9]
  • You can change your name without parental consent [10]
  • You can drive a moped [11]
  • You can leave school (but must go into full-time education, training or employment until you are 18) [12]
  • You can buy a National Lottery Ticket [13]
  • You can leave home without your parents’ permission [14] (read this page for more information and advice.
  • You can get married with your parents’ consent (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and without their consent in Scotland. [15] Find out more about the law and marriage here.
  • You can buy a pet [16]
  • You can consent to sexual activity with someone else over the age of 16 [17]. There are a few exceptions to this which you can learn more about here. When is the right time for you to have sex? Find out more here.
Person with Pet
L Plate (1)

Age 17

  • Give Blood [18]
  • Can drive a car and other vehicles [19] (check what else you need to drive here)
  • You can donate your body to medical science [20]

Age 18

  • You are no longer a child
  • You can no longer be adopted [21]
    • If you were adopted you can apply for your birth certificate and add your name to the Adoption Contact Register [22]
  • You can vote [23]
  • You can get married or form a civil partnership without parental consent [24] (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Find out more about marriages, civil partnerships and the law here
  • You can buy alcohol [25]
  • You can join the army without parental consent [26]
  • You can get a tattoo [27]
  • You can buy cigarettes, tobacco and cigarette papers [28]
  • You can stand for election as a Member of Parliament, Mayor or local councillor [29]
  • You can serve on a jury [30]
  • You can write a will [31]
  • You can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate [32]
elections-536656_960_720
Adoption

Age 19

  • You are no longer entitled to full time education for free

Age 21

  • You can adopt a child [33]
  • You can supervise a driver learner (if you have driven for 3 years) [34]

Age and the Law

Growing up can be hard; you get more and more responsibility but sometimes it can be difficult to know when you stop being a child and become an adult. Different religions have coming-of-age ceremonies to signify when people become adults. Below is a list of the different things you can do and the age that you can do them according to British law. (Please note we are not able to give legal advice and that you seek professional legal advice before following any of the below)

IMG_6145

Age 5

  • You must be in full-time education.

Age 10

  • You are responsible for any crimes you commit and can be convicted. You won’t be tried as an adult and instead will go to a youth court and receive different sentences [1]
  • You will go to a youth prison and not an adult prison [2]
  • The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is 8 years old [3]
school-2596090_960_720

Age 12

  • You can see, rent and buy 12A rated films without an adult [4]

Age 13

  • You can get a part-time job (there are lots of rules around what sort of job and when you can work. Find out more here [5]

Age 14

  • You are responsible for wearing your seatbelt whilst in a car (and can be fined if you don’t wear one) [6]
Person in Car

Age 15

  • You can see, rent and buy 15 rated films without an adult [7]

Age 16

  • You can drink beer, cider or wine with a meal if you are with a person over the age of 18 [8]
  • You can join the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines or Royal Navy with your parent/guardian’s consent [9]
  • You can change your name without parental consent [10]
  • You can drive a moped [11]
  • You can leave school (but must go into full-time education, training or employment until you are 18) [12]
  • You can buy a National Lottery Ticket [13]
  • You can leave home without your parents’ permission [14] (read this page for more information and advice.
  • You can get married with your parents’ consent (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and without their consent in Scotland. [15] Find out more about the law and marriage here.
  • You can buy a pet [16]
  • You can consent to sexual activity with someone else over the age of 16 [17]. There are a few exceptions to this which you can learn more about here. When is the right time for you to have sex? Find out more here.
L Plate (1)

Age 17

  • Give Blood [18]
  • Can drive a car and other vehicles [19] (check what else you need to drive here)
  • You can donate your body to medical science [20]
elections-536656_960_720

Age 18

  • You are no longer a child
  • You can no longer be adopted [21]
    • If you were adopted you can apply for your birth certificate and add your name to the Adoption Contact Register [22]
  • You can vote [23]
  • You can get married or form a civil partnership without parental consent [24] (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Find out more about marriages, civil partnerships and the law here
  • You can buy alcohol [25]
  • You can join the army without parental consent [26]
  • You can get a tattoo [27]
  • You can buy cigarettes, tobacco and cigarette papers [28]
  • You can stand for election as a Member of Parliament, Mayor or local councillor [29]
  • You can serve on a jury [30]
  • You can write a will [31]
  • You can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate [32]
Adoption

Age 19

  • You are no longer entitled to full time education for free

Age 21

  • You can adopt a child [33]
  • You can supervise a driver learner (if you have driven for 3 years) [34]