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Legal ages for your child

Your child is not an adult in the eyes of the law until the age of 18, but as they get older they are legally allowed to do certain things:-

Age 14

Go to a pub, but cannot drink or buy alcohol

Responsible for wearing a seat belt

Age 16

Leave school

Choose own doctor

Claim welfare benefits

Work full time with training

Leave home with parents' consent

Get married with  parents' consent

Drink wine or beer with a meal in a restaurant

Hold a licence to drive a moped

Buy a ticket in the National Lottery

Age 17

Hold a licence to drive any vehicle except certain heavy ones

Engage in street trading

Leave home without parents' consent

Age 18

Buy cigarettes or tobacco

Appear before adult court

Get married without parents' consent


Act as an executor for a person's will


Purchase an air rifle

Buy fireworks

Change their name

Apply for a passport

Own houses and land

Apply for a mortgage

Go abroad to sing, play or perform professionally

Sit on a jury

Be a blood donor

Buy alcohol

Drink in a pub

Hold a licence or sell alcohol


The law does not specify how old someone has to be to babysit.

However, the NSPCC recommends that no one under 16 should be left alone to look after young children. If someone under 16 is looking after a child, the parent or guardian, and not the babysitter, remain legally responsible for the child’s safety.

Parents should still use judgement when choosing a babysitter, as some 16 year olds might not be mature enough to look after younger children.

The same careful judgements apply if your child wants to babysit for others.