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What age can I?

Your guide to what you can legally do at what age in the UK, whether you're hoping to get served, get laid, get a mortgage or simply get a life.

14 +

  • You can get a part time job, for a maximum of two hours on a school day, working sometime between 7.00am and 8.00am and 5.00pm and 7.00pm.
  • You can work on Sundays between 7.00am and 7.00pm, but again for no more than two hours.
  • You can work up to five hours on a Saturday between 7.00am and 7.00pm.
  • During school holidays you can work five hours a day from Monday to Saturday. But you can only work two hours a day on Sundays.
  • It's worth checking with your Local Authority before taking on unusual work (i.e. anything that doesn't involve shoving papers through letterboxes) to be sure it doesn't contravene local regulations and bylaws
  • You can go into a bar and order soft drinks.
  • If convicted of a serious criminal offence (in a Youth Court), You can
    be held in secure accommodation for no more than 24 months. You could also get a fine for a maximum of £1,000.
  • Wearing a seatbelt is considered your own personal responsibility, so buckle up.

15+

  • Working restrictions are the same as 14-year-olds, except you can work up to eight hours on a Saturday between 7.00am and 7.00pm (if you're 15 or over but under school-leaving age).
  • You can view, rent or buy a 15 rated film.
  • If you are awaiting trial for a criminal offence, you may be held in a remand centre.
  • If convicted, you can be sent to a young offenders institute for up to two years.

16+

  • You have the right to give consent to medical, dental and surgical treatment. This includes contraceptive advice and treatment.
  • You can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you turn 16 by the end of the summer holidays. But if you started secondary school after September 2008, you have to stay in school until age 17.
  • You are entitled to free full-time further education (at school, sixth form college and city technology college).
  • If you do leave full-time education for work, you are allowed to take time off for training or study (until you're 17).
  • You can have sex, gay or straight, so long as your partner is also 16+ (17+ in Northern Ireland).
  • If you're 17 and under, it is an offence for someone in a position of trust who is 18 or over to engage in any kind of sexual activity with you.
  • You can claim benefit and obtain a National Insurance number.
  • You can apply for legal aid.
  • You can drink a beer, wine, or cider with a meal in a pub or restaurant if you are with an adult.
  • You can ride a moped with a max engine power of 50cc (and a provisional licence). You can also drive an invalid vehicle (with a licence) and a mowing machine. 
  • You can work as a street trader and/or sell scrap metal.
  • You can choose your own doctor.
  • You can work full time if you've chosen to leave school (but not in a bar or a betting shop).
  • You can join the armed forces (so long as that's OK with your parent/s or carer).
  • You can move out of the family home with your parents permission.(If you're under 17 then Social Services may apply for a Care Order).
  • You can rent accommodation, but a guarantor is required until you're 18 (this is an adult who can be responsible for you).
  • You must pay for prescription charges (unless you're pregnant, on income support or in full-time education). Laws in Wales differ though.
  • You can order your own passport.
  • If convicted of a criminal offence, but not given a custodial sentence, you can receive a youth rehabilitation order.
  • You can play the National Lottery.
  • You can buy premium bonds.
  • You can fly a glider.
  • You can get married (with parental consent).

17+

  • You can drive most types of vehicles (with a provisional driving licence and a 21+ adult in the passenger seat who is qualified to drive).
  • If you pass your driving test, and you're properly insured, you can get behind the wheel and take to the road on your own. 
  • You can apply for a private pilot's licence for a plane, helicopter, gyroplane, hot air balloon and airship.
  • You can be interviewed by the police without an adult present, given a reprimand or a warning.  Should you be charged with an offence (without being granted bail) then you could be sent to a remand centre or prison.
  • You can become a blood donor.
  • You can leave your body for medical study.

18+

  • You can vote in local and general elections. 
  • You can stand for election as a Member of Parliament, local councillor or Mayor.
  • You can serve on a jury, or be tried in a magistrates court and go to jail if you're found guilty of a criminal offence.
  • If you were adopted you can see your original birth certificate (and have your name added to the Adoption Contact Register).
  • You can make a will.
  • You can get married without parental permission.
  • You can view, rent or buy an 18 rated film.
  • You can view, rent, or buy pornographic material that does not contravene UK obscenity laws.
  • You can buy fireworks.
  • You can place a bet in a betting shop/casino.
  • You can buy cigarettes, rolling tobacco, cigarette papers and also liqueur chocolates.
  • You can open your own bank account.
  • You can buy an alcoholic drink in a pub or a bar.
  • You can pawn stuff in a pawn shop.
  • You can have a tattoo.
  • You can drive lorries weighing up to 7.5 tonnes, with a trailer attached.

19+

  • You are no longer entitled to free full time education at school.

21+

  • You can apply to adopt a child.
  • You can supervise a learner driver (so long as you've held a driving licence for the same type of vehicle for three years).
  • You can apply for a range of licences that would allow you to fly commercial transport aeroplanes, helicopters, gyroplanes and airships. 
  • You can drive lorries over 7.5 tonnes with a trailer (with the appropriate licence), as well as buses and road rollers.

Updated: 20/12/2013


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