18 year olds and the law

So your child is an adult. The world is their oyster. So obviously your role as party pooper vigilant parent is to sprinkle some lemon juice on said oyster by reminding them what they can and can't do legally.

18 year olds and the law

At 18, teenagers can:

  • Vote in local and general elections
  • Stand for election as an MP, local councillor or mayor
  • Serve on a jury
  • Be tried in a magistrate's court, and go to prison if found guilty of a criminal offence
  • Make a will
  • Pawn stuff in a pawn shop

Relationships at 18 years old

At 18, it's legal to:

  • Get married without parental permission
  • If adopted, see the original birth certificate (and have their name added to the birth contact register)

Medical treatment

At 18, teens can:

  • Consent to their body being used in a medical study
  • Carry an organ donor card


Your adult child can now undo all your good work legally, as they can:

  • Buy cigarettes, rolling tobacco and cigarette papers
  • Buy alcoholic drinks in a pub or a bar
  • Buy fireworks
  • View, rent or buy an 18-rated film
  • View, rent or buy pornographic material that does not contravene UK obscenity laws
  • Place a bet in a betting shop or casino
  • Get a tattoo
  • Get body piercings


Petrolheads can now:

  • Ride a motorbike above 125cc with a licence
  • Drive lorries between 3,500kg and 7,500kg (with the appropriate licence)


And if the Bank of Mum and Dad has gone bust, an 18 year old can:

  • Open a bank account 

Things an 18-year-old still can't do legally

  • Adopt a child*
  • Supervise a learner driver*
  • Drive a bus*

* All require the person to be 21

And as parents of an 18 year old you need to remember to check...

  • Whether or not your teen is still covered by family medical or travel insurance policies
  • With the local council that the extra adult in your household is on the electoral roll and will receive a polling card if an election is called
  • That any child savings accounts now have to change to adult accounts (at which point they can be taxed)

Last updated: 09-Jul-2014 at 3:55 PM