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My rights from 16 - 21, what can I do and when?

Written by Bethany Carter Posted in General Advice

My rights from 16 - 21, what can I do and when?

When you reach your later teenage years it can be rather daunting and exciting at the same time. When you turn 16 you begin to gain rights to do things you wouldn’t have been able to do before, legally. So whether you are 16 or 21, and anywhere in between I’m sure there are quite a few rights that you didn’t know you had.

At 16 I think we all immediately think of the fact you are now legally allowed to gain employment and have a job, this is the first and biggest sense of independence as you can finally earn your own money to spend how you would like. But did you know you can also do the following:


•Have sex

•Get married! (however this is only with your parent or guardian’s consent)

•Ride a moped

•Leave home and live independently

•Leave school; however now the law has changed and you will be required to engage in either training or education of some sort until you’re 18 years old.

•You can pilot a glider

•Legally allowed to be a babysitter

•Buy a national lottery ticket

•You can join the armed forces

•Have an abortion without your parent or guardian’s consent

•Finally, you will now be put on to the electoral role at 16 years old.

What happens when you’re 17? There is the obvious factor that you can now learn to drive in the UK but what else can you do? Well it is not just a car you are able to drive following you seventeenth birthday, you are also able to drive a large motorcycle, a tractor and lorries, not to mention pilot a plane, become a blood donor and emigrate out of the country!

In the eyes of the law 18 is when you are an adult with the rights to do many things. A few people find celebrating their 18th birthday in a club, pub or bar is exciting as it is the legal age they can enter some of these venues and also drink alcohol. Although there are a lot more things that you will now be able to do, these include:

•Change your name!

•Get Married

•Get a tattoo

•Open a bank account, without consent forms from your parent and guardian

•Go into betting shops and place a bet

•Buy tobacco or cigarettes

•Ask to see your birth certificate if you were adopted

•Finally, you can serve on a jury in court if you are summoned 

At 21 you gain even more rights in your life such as supervising someone else to drive if you have had your licence for 3 years, you can get a flight navigator licence, airline transport licence and a flight engineer licence and finally you may adopt a child.

With a lot more rights come a lot more responsibilities but it is exciting to know what rights you have when you reach each birthday. Remember that it is important to carry a proof-of-age card as identification to be able to do a lot of these activities!

About the Author

Bethany Carter

Bethany Carter is a Marketing Coordinator at TCHC. 

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