What age can I?

You might not be seen as an adult in the eyes of the law until the age of 18, but as you get older you are legally allowed to do certain things. That can also mean you are legally responsible for your actions, so it’s important to know what’s what.

What you can do

At 10

  • You have reached the age of criminal responsibility. This means that between the ages of 10 and 14, you can be convicted of a criminal offence if it can be proven that you knew what you were doing was seriously wrong.
  • Between the ages of 10 and 14, a boy can be convicted of rape, assault with the intent to commit rape and unlawful sex with a girl if she is under 16, if it can be proven that he knew what he was doing was wrong.

At 13

  • You can have a part-time job, with some restrictions.

At 14

  • You are considered to be fully responsible for your actions, so if you commit a criminal offence, you will be treated the same as an adult (except from sentencing).
  • You can enter a pub, but you can’t buy or drink alcohol there.
  • Between the ages of 10 and 14, a boy can be convicted of rape, assault with the intent to commit rape and unlawful sex with a girl if she is under 16, if it can be proven that he knew what he was doing was wrong.
  • You are old enough to give evidence in a court case.
  • You’re responsible for wearing a seatbelt and you can be fined if you’re caught without one. It’s not just the driver’s responsibility!

At 16

  • You can have a full-time job if you have officially left school. You need to remember that you can’t work full-time until the last Friday in June – even if you have turned 16 before this.
  • You can live independently, subject to certain conditions being met.
  • You can get married with your parents’ or guardians’ consent.
  • You can ride a moped of up to 50ccs.
  • You can pilot a glider.
  • You must be 16 before you can legally have sex, whether that’s with someone of the same-sex or opposite sex.
  • You can have an abortion without your parents consent.
  • You can join the armed forces with your parents’ or carers’ consent.
  • You can apply for your own passport.
  • You can have beer or cider whilst eating a meal in a restaurant or an eating area of a pub, but not in the bar.
  • You can buy lottery tickets, including scratch cards
  • You can change your name by deed poll, with your parent or guardian’s consent.
  • If you are in work, you are now old enough to join a Trade Union.
  • You can choose your own GP.
  • You can claim social security benefit.

At 17

  • You can hold a licence to drive most vehicles.
  • You can pilot a plane.
  • You can emigrate.
  • A care order can no longer be made on you.
  • You are now old enough to potentially save lives, by donating blood!
  • You can engage in street trading.
  • You can leave home without your parents’ consent.

At 18

  • You are legally seen as an adult in the eyes of the law.
  • You can vote in general and local elections.
  • You can get married.
  • You can buy cigarettes and tobacco.
  • You can open a bank account in your name without a parent or carer’s signature.
  • You can buy and drink alcohol in a bar.
  • You can ask to see your birth certificate if you are adopted.
  • You can change your name.
  • You can be called to serve on a jury.
  • You can sue or be sued.
  • You can make a will.
  • You can place a bet.
  • You can have a tattoo.
  • You can buy fireworks and sparklers.
  • Although you may own a mobile phone already, you’re now old enough to get a mobile in your name on a monthly contract. However, it’s also your responsibility to pay your bills, and your credit rating will be affected if you don’t.
  • You can act as an executor of a person’s Will.
  • You can apply for a passport.
  • You can own houses and land.
  • You can apply for a mortgage.
  • You can hold a licence to sell alcohol.
  • You can sit on a jury.
  • When applying for a job, you don’t usually need to tell an employer about a ‘spent’ conviction’ Over the age of 18, most convictions became ‘spent’ after five years. Find out more on the Directgov site, listed in the ‘Who Can Help?’ section below.

Who can help?

Find out more information about when you need to disclose convictions in the Careers Advice section on the Next Step website.