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General
Ages and the Law

On this page:

Education
Employment
Young Offenders
Driving
Family
Health and Relationships
Leisure
Other

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Ages and the Law

For much of the information on this page I'm indebted to The Mix – Essential Support for the Under–25s.

Unless otherwise stated, and to the best of my knowledge, the following guidelines apply in England and Wales. Different laws may apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In most of these cases, if not all of them, the question I have in mind is "In England and Wales, what's the minimum age at which you can (legally) ... ?" (This leads in one or two instances to some unnatural wording – for example in the one about seatbelts.)

Education

Leave school Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
No longer get free education Click to show or hide the answer

Employment

Work part–time Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Work up to eight hours on a Saturday (between 07:00 and 19:00, and as long as you're over the school–leaving age) Click to show or hide the answer
Claim benefit, and have a National Insurance number Click to show or hide the answer
Work as a street trader, or sell scrap metal (or both!)
Work full time, if you've legally left school (but not in a bar or a betting shop)
Join the armed forces, with the permission of your parent(s) or carer Click for more information
Join the armed forces, without parental consent Click to show or hide the answer

Young Offenders

Be held in secure accomodation, for up to 2 years, or fined up to £1,000, if convicted of a serious criminal offence Click to show or hide the answer
Be held in a remand centre, if awaiting trial for a criminal offence Click to show or hide the answer
Be sent to a young offenders institute, for up to two years, if convicted of a criminal offence
Apply for legal aid Click to show or hide the answer
Receive a youth rehabilitation order, if convicted of a criminal offence and not given a custodial sentence
Be interviewed by the police without an adult present, and possibly be given a reprimand or a warning Click to show or hide the answer
Be sent to a remand centre or prison, if charged with an offence and not granted bail
Be tried in a magistrates' court, and be sent to prison if convicted of a criminal offence Click to show or hide the answer

Driving (etc.)

Obviously, in order to drive any vehicle at any age, you need the appropriate licence (full or provisional).

Be prosecuted for not wearing a seatbelt Click to show or hide the answer
Drive an invalid vehicle (as long as you have a licence) or a mowing machine Click to show or hide the answer
Ride a moped (with engine size of up to 50cc)
Fly a glider
Drive a car, or ride a motor cycle with an engine size of up to 125cc (and also drive most other types of vehicle) Click to show or hide the answer
Apply for a private pilot's licence
Drive lorries weighing up to 7.5 tonnes, with (or, presumably, without) a trailer attached Click to show or hide the answer
Ride a motor cycle, with no restriction on engine size (other restrictions do apply) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Supervise a learner driver – as long as you've held a licence for the type of vehicle involved, for at least three years Click to show or hide the answer
Ride any motor cycle (with no restriction on engine size, power, or power–to–weight ratio)
Apply for a licence to fly commercial aeroplanes, helicopters, gyroplanes or airships
Drive lorries over 7.5 tonnes, with a trailer, as well as buses and road rollers

Family

Leave home, as long as you have the permission of your parent(s) or carer Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Leave home without parental consent Click to show or hide the answer
See your original birth certificate, or have your name added to the Adoption Contact Register, if you were adopted
Apply to adopt a child Click to show or hide the answer

Health and Relationships

Get married, with the permission of your parent(s) or carer Click to show or hide the answer
Have sex (gay or straight), as long as your partner is also above the legal age
Choose your own doctor
Give consent to medical, dental or surgical treatment (including contraceptive advice or treatment)
Be expected to pay prescription charges (unless you're pregnant, on income support, or in full–time education). (In Wales, prescriptions are free until you're 25.)
Give blood Click to show or hide the answer
Leave your body to medical research
Get married without the consent of your parent(s) or carer Click to show or hide the answer
Get a tattoo

Leisure

Order soft drinks in a bar Click to show or hide the answer
Drink beer, cider or wine, in a pub or restaurant, if having a meal with an adult Click to show or hide the answer
Play the National Lottery
Buy premium bonds
Buy liquor chocolates!
Buy cigarettes, rolling tobacco or cigarette papers Click to show or hide the answer
Buy alcoholic drinks in a pub or bar
Place a bet in a betting shop or casino
View, rent or buy pornographic material that complies with UK obscenity laws
Buy fireworks

Other

Rent accommodation Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Order your own passport
Vote in local and general elections Click to show or hide the answer
Stand for election as an MP, local councillor or mayor
Serve on a jury
Make a will
Open your own bank account
Pawn your goods

© Haydn Thompson 2017