Teenagers Rights in the UK

In the UK, you are legally an adult at the age of 18, which means you can drink, you can get married without your parents’ permission, and you can vote. But do you know what age teenagers are allowed to work in the UK? Or learn to drive? Or open a bank account?

Most teenagers are still children in the eyes of the law, but that does not mean that they don’t have certain rights and responsibilities…

At 10:

  • You can be convicted of a criminal offence, if you knew what you were doing wrong.

At 12:

  • You can buy a pet.

At 13:

  • You can open your own bank account.

At 14:

  • You reach the age of criminal responsibility – you can be arrested, have fingerprints taken, and be convicted.
  • You can go into a pub with an adult.
  • You can work part-time (with the consent of your school).

At 16 you can:

  • Claim Social Security benefits in your own right.
  • Get married. (with your parents’ permission)
  • Work full-time.
  • Leave home & live independently (again, only with parents’ permission).
  • Drink alcohol with a meal in a pub.
  • Have sex.
  • Learn to drive (if disabled).
  • Buy petrol.
  • Play the lottery.
  • Leave full-time education.

At 17 you can:

  • Drive a car.
  • Enter a betting shop (but not place a bet).
  • Be tried before an adult court.

At 18 you can:

  • Vote.
  • Purchase & consume alcohol.
  • Purchase tobacco, knives, fireworks & adult magazines.
  • Leave home or get married without parental consent.
  • Own a house.
  • Donate blood.
  • Do jury service.
  • Apply for a loan or credit card.
  • Place a bet.
  • Get a tattoo.

But it doesn’t end there. In the US, you are not allowed to drink until you’re 21. In the UK, it’s a lot earlier. However, there are still some things that you are not permitted to do in the UK until you reach 21:

  • Adopt a child
  • Hire a car
  • Supervise a learner driver
  • Drive a bus
  • Stand for election

As you can see, although you are still technically a child until the age of 18 in the UK, you still have fairly significant rights. How does this differ from teenage rights in the US? Do you think that some of these are fairer or stricter than in America?

Author bio

Andrew & Co are a specialist firm of solicitors based in the East Midlands, UK. Their dedicated team of family law solicitors deals with a broad range of family issues, including areas such as divorce, child support, mediation and separation.