What United Kingdom law says teenagers can do. 

Age-restricted Goods and Services

The following items are subject to age-restrictions, and supplying any of them to someone below the legal age is a criminal offence which can lead to fines or prosecution for the trader involved.

Product Legal Age
Liqueur chocolates 16 Years
Lottery Tickets 16 Years
Petrol 16 Years
Scratch Cards 16 Years
Party Poppers & Caps 16 Years
Pay adult price for bus or train tickets  16 Years
Pay prescription charges (not if at school or on income support) 16 Years
Air Guns & Pellets 17 Years
Alcohol 18 Years
Adult Magazines 18 Years
Cigarettes & Tobacco 18 Years
Fireworks 18 Years
Knives 18 Years
Solvents 18 Years
Tattooing 18 Years
Bet 18 Years
Butane Gas Cigarette Lighter Refills 18 Years
Videos and Cinema 12, 15, & 18 Years

Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities
  • A child can be convicted of a criminal offence if they know they were doing wrong
  • Buy an animal as a pet
  • Open a bank account
  • A person is fully responsible for any crime they commit and the police can take fingerprints
  • Work part-time with the teenager's school's consent
  • Go into a pub with an adult (but the teenager can't drink alcohol)
  • Be convicted of a crime
  • Be convicted of rape (if a boy) and illegal sex with a girl under sixteen
  • Claim social security benefits in their own right
  • Drink some alcohol with a meal in a pub (but not at the bar)
  • Get married (with parents' permission)
  • Join a trade union
  • Leave home to live independently. (Scottish law allows young people to leave home legally at sixteen years of age. In England and Wales sixteen year olds can leave home only with parental consent.)
  • Leave school (But you must be in some form of education or training until you're 18.)
  • Take your driving test (if disabled)
  • The age of consent for legal sex (including homosexual consent in England, Scotland and Wales; age of consent for homosexual sex in Northern Ireland is 17.)
  • Work full-time
  • A person can drive a car and pilot an aeroplane
  • Go into a betting shop (but not bet)
  • Be tried before an adult court and sent to prison or fined up to 2,000
  • Leave home or marry without parental consent
  • Vote
  • Drink alcohol in a pub
  • Own a house or land
  • Sign contracts
  • Apply for loans and credit cards
  • Make a will
  • Do jury service
  • Donate blood or organs
  • A person can adopt a child
  • Stand for election for parliament or local government

Blood and Organ Donation

An organ donor can be any age.

The NHS UK Transplant FAQ states:

Can a donor be under 16?

Yes, if he or she has expressed such a wish and is competent to do so and the parents or guardian agree to donation.

Blood donations can be made by anyone aged 17 or over.

Duties and Responsibilities of Parents and the Local Educational Authority (LEA)

Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have to provide free school education for all children who are of 'compulsory school age'.

A teenager's parents are also under a legal obligation to secure schooling for any child of 'compulsory school age'.

Compulsory Education

Every child has to go to school from the beginning of the term after which the child turns five years old until the last Friday in June of the school year in which they are 16.
(Children do not have to go to school: for example, they could be educated at home.)

On the Buses

It depends on local council rules as to the age that a child is charged as an adult on buses. In Co. Durham the upper age limit is just 13; Newcastle it is 15.

The Youth Justice system in England and Wales

The youth justice system in England and Wales has been overhauled by the Crime and Disorder Act (CDA) 1998 and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (YJCEA) 1999.  The aim of the youth justice system is defined by the CDA 1998 as "preventing offending by young people".  Underpinning the new system is an emphasis on early intervention and greater inter-agency working. 

More here...




I have spent a few minutes scouring the web gleaning the above and if it's wrong, well, let me know.

There may be mistakes here, and the above may be a pack of lies - you'll just have to decide!

Last updated March 2015