At what age can I..?

As you get older the law allows you to do some things and not others - This A-Z guide will help you understand what’s what.


If you are with someone who is over 18 you can go into a pub or bar at any age, but you cannot drink or buy alcohol.  The police may take away alcohol from you if you are drinking in a public place or any place you that you have entered illegally.


You may join the Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Marines, with your carers/parents agreement, when you are 16. You have to serve a minimum amount of time before you can leave. You can apply when you are 15 yrs and 9 months (but not to the Army).

At 18, you do not need your carers/parents agreement.


The law doesn’t say at what age you can baby-sit. Your carers, parents and social worker will decide when you are old enough to baby-sit, and who you can care for. It is recommended 16 yrs is the minimum age for baby-sitting.


You can have your body pierced, but your carer or parent may have to come with you and give their consent. Some types of body piercings are not allowed if you are under 16 yrs.


If you are under 18 and want to change your name you will need to get consent of everyone who has ‘Parental Responsibility’ for you (for example your parents and if you are on a Care Order from Social Services). If they refuse to give consent, you can ask a court to allow you to change your name without their consent.

Your parents can change your name without your consent, but you can ask a court to stop them (by taking out a prohibited steps order).


You can make a complaint at any age. For example, you can complain if you have been unfairly treated because of your race, or nationality, or sex.  You can complain about how you have been treated by Social Services, your school or the Police. Click here


You cannot be charged with a crime if you are under 10. If you are 10 or over, then the law says you have full criminal responsibility for your actions and can be convicted of a criminal offence.


When you are 17 you can get a driving licence, learn to drive, and when you have passed your test you can drive your own car.  When you are 16, you can hold a licence to drive a moped up to 50ccs


When you are 13 or 14 you can get a “light-work” part time job for no more than two hours on a school day or on a Sunday. During a Saturday or school holidays you can work for up to 5 hours a day. You cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. and you must not work more than 25 hours per week.

When you are 15, you can get a part time job for no more than two hours on a school day or on a Sunday. During a Saturday or school holidays you can work for up to 8 hours a day. You cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. and you must not work more than 35 hours per week.

When you are 16, and have left school, you can work full time, but you cannot work in a bar or a betting shop until you are 18. When you are 18 an employer must pay you the minimum wage.

You should check with your Education Welfare Officer if you are thinking about taking a part-time job. Contact your Education Welfare Officer at school, or ring them on 01454 863377.


You can see a U or PG film on your own. You can see a PG film if you are with someone who is over 18.

You can see a 12A category film at the cinema as long as an adult goes with you.


When you are 14 you can have flying lessons and work towards getting a flying licence


When you are 16, you can buy a lottery ticket and bet on the Football Pools.


You cannot rent or own a house or flat until you are 18.


When you are 16 you can get married if both your parents/carers agree. If they disagree, you can ask a court to give you permission to marry. At 18 you can marry without your parents/carers consent.


You can have a National Savings account (at the Post Office) when you are 7. You can open an account at a bank when you are 10, but you will not be able to have a card that lets you take money out of a cash point until you are older (e.g.14). It is very unlikely that a bank will give you a credit card until you are 18.

You can buy Premium Bonds (at the Post Office) and open an Individual Savings Account (ISA) at 16.

If you are a care-leaver, you are entitled to certain benefits at 16. Click here

At 18, you can open a bank account without your carer's or parent's permission.


You can buy a pet when you are 16.


If you are held by the police you have a right to:

  • Tell someone where you are. If you are under 16 the Police must try to tell your parents or carers
  • Have advice from a solicitor.
  • Have someone with you if you are interviewed about a crime. For example, your parent, or your foster carer or social worker.

The Police can:

  • Search you, including a strip search.
  • Take your fingerprints.
  • Take a sample from you (e.g. nail scrapings, saliva, hair, or blood).


You must attend full time education from the age of 5 - 16, and you are entitled to free education until you are 19.


When you are 16, you can agree to having sex (either heterosexual or homosexual) with other males and females aged 16 yrs and over.

It is against the law for anyone above or below the age of 16 to have any sexual activity with someone who is under 16.

Anyone who is in a position of trust (such as a person caring for you, training or supervising you, or teaching you) who is 18 yrs and over will commit an offence if he or she has any sexual activity with a person below the age of 18.


It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. If you are smoking in a public place when you are under 16, your cigarettes or tobacco can be taken away by a Police Officer or Park-Keeper.


You can get a National insurance number when you are 16. (see Employment)

If you are leaving care, you are entitled to certain benefits. See the ThroughCare Team social worker for advice


You can be tattooed when you are 18


When you are 18 you can vote in local and national elections


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