As you get older you have more and more opportunities to do things for yourself and make your own decisions.

+ Go to School

+ Drink alcohol at home or other private premises – your parents or the people you live with will probably have rules about this though

+ You must go to school or be in education once you are 5

+ Be convicted of a criminal offence – if you break the law when you’re under 10, action may still be taken in respect of you or your parents, but you won’t be treated as a criminal.

+ Travel without a car seat but you must wear a seatbelt

+ Watch a ‘12’ rated film, and watch a ‘12A’ rated film without an adult

+ Be trained to take part in ‘dangerous performances’ – as long as the local authority gives you a licence

+ Have certain social media accounts – there is no law about when you can have a social media account but every platform has its own rules. For many of them, 13 is the minimum age you must be to have an account.

+ Get a job – There are restrictions on when you can work and how long you can work for depending on how old you are. For more information see our section on ‘Work

+ Be responsible for wearing your own seatbelt in a car – until you are 14, the driver is responsible

+ Give ‘sworn’ evidence in court – this means you have to take an oath before you give evidence promising you will tell the truth

+ Watch a 15 rated film

Once you’re 16, you can do a lot more without permission from your parents or carers.

+ Change your Name

+ Get your own passport

+ Travel alone by plane

+ Hold a licence to ride a moped

+ Leave home

+ Get a Council House

+ Get a National Insurance number

+ Claim Education Maintenance Allowance if you are still in education

+ Claim job seekers allowance or income support

+ Make decisions about medical treatment

+ Have sex

+ Get married –with your parents’ permission; opposite sex and same sex couples can get married

+ Enter into a civil partnership – with your parent’ permission; only same sex couples can register a civil partnership although the law may change soon

+ Drink alcohol in a pub or restaurant with a meal as long as someone else (who  must be 18 or older) buys it for you

+ Buy aerosol spray paint

+ Buy a Lottery ticket                

+ Buy some over the counter medicines, if this is in accordance with a store’s age policy

+ Leave School – you can leave school and education in Wales on the last Friday in June in the school year you are 16. This means that people with birthdays in July and August will be 15 when they can leave education.

+ Work full time – although there are some restrictions on the number of hours you can work and the activities you can be involved in until you are 18. You can find more details in our section on ‘Work’


+ Buy premium bonds

+ Set up an Individual Savings Account (ISA)

+ Buy your own pet

+ Serve in the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Airforce - with the consent of your parent

+ Apply for legal aid

+ Have a ‘pathway plan’ – if you have been looked after

+ Learn to drive

Once you are 18, you are an adult; your parents no longer have parental responsibility for you. You can

+Get Married

+ Apply for more information about your adoption – if you were adopted you can contact the adoption agency for more information. You can also ask to have your name put on the Adoption Contact Register

+ Make an application for a gender change certificate

+ Make a will

+ Appear in an adult court

+ Serve on a jury

+ Join the armed forces and volunteer reserves without parental consent

+ Join the fire service

+ Join the police

+ Buy a house, hold a tenancy, and apply for a mortgage

+ Work full time without restriction

+ Earn the National Minimum Wages

+ Vote in general and local elections – NB the voting age in Wales may be lowered to 16

+ You can become an MP, and AM, a local councillor or mayor

+ Buy alcohol

+ Buy cigarettes

+ Buy gas lights refills or other solvents

+ Buy fireworks

+ Get a Tattoo

+ Get a street trading licence

+ Get a bank account in your own right

+ Watch an ‘18’ rated film

+ Buy a knife or a gun - you will need a licence to buy a gun

+ Have a credit card

+ Have an overdraft

+ Give blood

+ Opt out of organ donation in Wales

+ Use a sunbed – unless it has been prescribed by a doctor to treat certain conditions, in which case you may be able to use a sunbed before you are 18.

What can I do at any age?

There are some things that have no fixed age limit on them. To do some of these things, you and the adults with parental responsibility for you have to have made a sensible decision that you are old enough to do these things on your own.

These include

The NSPCC suggests that you should not generally be left alone if you are under 12, and that children under the age of 16 shouldn’t be left home alone overnight. However there is no ‘lower’ age limit set by law.

Tthe parent of the child you will be looking after will need to decide if they think you are old enough to do this

If staff or members of the public are concerned about you they may ask why you are alone, or contact the police to see if you are alright.

In the street or at a park or beach or other public place

Unless the shop selling the medicine has an age restriction policy on the sale of over the counter medicine

If you are under 16 the doctor will make a judgment about whether they think you understand the treatment, and may need to talk to your parent or carer to get consent about particular treatment if the doctor doesn’t think you are mature enough to understand

As long as you are with someone who is over 18

Although one of your parents may have to go with you to give their consent

As long as you have consent from everyone with parental responsibility for you

Although the cinema manager can choose whether to let you in or not

If you are under 12 you must be accompanied by an adult

Although the shopkeeper can choose whether or not to rent or sell it to you

Although the people holding the records may refuse to show them to you if it would cause you or someone else serious harm

Although the people holding the records may refuse to show them to you if it would cause you or someone else serious harm

Although the people holding the records may refuse to show them to you if it would cause you or someone else serious harm

As long as you are old enough to understand the questions and are able to answer them clearly

But you can’t be held responsible for any debt you owe until you are 18

But you will need a litigation friend to do so

As long as you are mature enough to understand what it means.

The driver must hold a full (not provisional) licence. You must wear the correct crash helmet and both your feet must be able to reach the passenger foot rests

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