What Can You Do at What Age?

From age 2 you must:

  • Pay a child fare on most flights.

At 3 you can:

  • Start pre-school education.

At 5 you can: 

  • Start full-time education at ‘school commencement date’ (usually in August) if 5 by ‘appropriate latest date’ (usually by end of following February).
  • Access free bus travel by applying for a National Entitlement Card – visit freebus.scot to find out more

At 11 you can:

At 12 you can: 

  • Make a will. 
  • Consult a solicitor and take a case to court.
  • Have the right to decide on your own adoption, i.e. the adoption cannot go ahead without your agreement. 
  • See a ‘12′ rated film on your own and rent or buy a ’12’ rated film. 
  • Be found guilty of a criminal offence. Between the ages of 12 to 15 you’re most likely to be referred to the Children’s Reporter, who’ll decide whether to refer you to a children’s hearing.
  • Be the subject of an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
  • Access your personal records.
  • Register for a Young Scot Membership!

At 13 you can: 

  • Be employed occasionally by parents doing light gardening or farming work – subject to the local authority bylaws where you live. 
  • Be employed by other people doing light work specified in, and subject to, the local authority bylaws where you live (e.g. your local newspaper shop to do a paper round).
  • Join a social networking site such as Facebook or TikTok.

At 14 you can: 

  • Get a job on a Saturday for up to 5 hours, and for no more than 2 hours on school days (not before 7am or after 7pm). During school holidays you can work on weekdays (including Saturdays) for 5 hours, with an overall weekly limit of 25 hours. You should not work for more than 4 hours in one day without a 1 hour break. You must be allowed two work free weeks during school holidays.
  • Drive an electronically assisted pedal bike. 
  • Vote and stand in an election for the Scottish Youth Parliament.

At 15 you can:

  • See a ‘15′ rated film on your own and rent or buy a ’15’ rated film. 
  • If you are under 16 and have a child it is your decision whether or not to give the child up for adoption. Only your consent is required.
  • Work up to eight hours per day, and 35 hours per week during holidays.

At 16 you can:

  • Get married.
  • Enter into a civil partnership. 
  • Consent to lawful sexual intercourse. 
  • Leave home without your parents/guardians’ consent. 
  • Apply for your own home through your local council. 
  • Have access to many more banking facilities, including all adult services, except overdrafts and credit. 
  • Buy wine, beer or cider to drink in a restaurant with a meal when a responsible adult is present, but cannot buy it in a bar, off-licence or supermarket. 
  • Join a trade union. 
  • Drive a moped, small agricultural tractor, or mowing machine. 
  • Leave school. If you are 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave after 31 May of that year and if you are 16 between 1 October and the last day of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year. 
  • Get a full-time job and pay National Insurance
  • Choose your own GP. 
  • Change your name without the consent of your parent or guardian. 
  • Be sent to a young offenders’ institution. 
  • Be prosecuted in the Justice of the Peace, Sheriff or High Court
  • Stand for election to become a member of a Community Council in certain areas.
  • If adopted, you have the right to access information relating to your birth and adoption. You can obtain your original birth certificate and request a copy of your adoption record and your court record. Find out more on the Citizen’s Advice Scotland website
  • Join the armed forces, but not to train as an officer. You will also need parental consent if you are under the age of 18. You can apply from the age of 15 years 9 months.
  • Be legally responsible for babysitting.
  • Apply for a passport without parental/guardian consent.
  • Consent to medical treatment (if you are under 16 you can also consent to medical treatment if you are capable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of the procedure and treatment).
  • Opt-out of being an organ donor. 
  • Earn the National Minimum Wage for 16 and 17 year olds.
  • Work as a waiter or waitress in a hotel or restaurant.
  • Buy Premium Bonds.
  • Get a piercing without parental/guardian consent.
  • Buy a pet – you can own a pet before you’re 16 but you can’t buy one yourself without a parent present until you’re 16.
  • You must pay full fare on trains (unless you have a Young Scot card which gives you up to a 1/2 off train fares!).
  • Vote in a Scottish Parliament election and in a local council election.

At 17 you can:

  • Hold a license to drive a car, small motorcycle or tractor. 
  • Hold a private pilot’s licence.
  • Give blood.
  • Train to be an officer in the Armed Forces (Army from 17 years 9 months, Navy from 17 years, Air Force from 17 years 6 months).
  • It is still possible for you to be adopted if you are under 18 and not married.

At 18 you can:

  • Vote in UK general elections and European Parliament elections in the UK.
  • Stand for election as a local councillor, MP or MSP.
  • Earn the National Minimum Wage rate for 18-21 year olds.
  • Become liable to register and pay the Council Tax.
  • Serve as a juror.
  • Buy alcohol in licensed premises and consume alcohol in a bar.
  • Buy cigarettes & tobacco.
  • Buy a National Lottery ticket or scratch card (there is no age restriction on a private lottery ticket).
  • See, rent or buy any film. 
  • Buy or possess fireworks.
  • Place a bet.
  • Hold a credit card.
  • Work behind a bar. 
  • Get tattooed.
  • Hire or buy a sunbed.
  • Be licensed to serve alcohol. 
  • Hold a basic commercial pilot’s licence.
  • Hold a licence to drive a medium-sized goods vehicle.
  • You can make an application for a gender change certificate.
  • Buy vapes or any nicotine products.

At 21 you can: 

  • Stand as an MEP candidate in European Parliament elections.
  • Hold a license to drive any vehicle, including large goods and passenger-carrying vehicles.
  • Supervise a learner driver (so long as you’ve had your licence for at least 3 years.)
  • Be sent to an adult prison.

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