Our Advice Blog


What can the under 16’s legally do?

#ageofconsent, #askvicki

Everyone has rights no matter how old they are. The laws regarding children and young adults are set out to keep them safe, ensuring they are mentally and emotionally able to understand the law and the decisions they are making and to protect younger people from being taken advantage of by others.

So what can you do as a child or young teen in the United Kingdom?

What age can I start work in the UK?

You have to be 14 or over to work in the UK.

How many hours can I work in the UK?

  • Aged 15 and under - You can work no more than 2 hours on a school day or on a Saturday.
  • Aged 15 and under – You can work no more than 5 hours on a non-school day or Saturday.
  • Aged 15 and over – You can work no more than 8 hours on a non-school day or Saturday.
  • There are also limits as to how many hours you can work each week if you are 16 and under.
  • Some councils will allow 13 year olds to legally undertake light work if under adult supervision, such as:
  • Delivering newspapers
  • Working in a hair salon
  • Car washing on private land
  • Shelf stacking

It is worth noting that you are still considered to be employed even if you do not receive payment for the hours worked.

What age can I purchase alcohol in the UK?

  • It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.
  • An adult can purchase a drink for a child aged 16-18 to go with a meal on licenced premises.
  • A parent can also offer a child alcohol at home if this is done responsibly.

How old do I have to be to drive in the UK?

  • You can apply for your provisional licence 3 months before your 17th birthday.
  • But you cannot legally drive or take your theory test until you are 17.

What age can you get married in the UK?

  • You can marry at the age of 16 if you have your parents or guardians permission.
  • You can marry without permission when you are 18 and over.

How old do I have to be to vote in the UK?

  • You have to be 18 to vote and registered on the electoral register.

What age can I visit my doctor or surgery alone in the UK?

You can visit your doctor at any age by yourself and the conversation will be confidential. Unless your doctor or nurse feels your safety or someone else’s safety may be at risk. It does not mean they will always speak to your parents and they may decide to speak to Social Services or the Police instead.

What age can I lawfully have sex in the UK?

In the UK if you are 16 or over you can have sexual relations with others aged 16 and over. This is the same for males and females and regardless of your sexuality. However, people who are in positions of trust with someone under the age of 18 such as a teacher would be breaking the law if they were to have sexual relations with them.

What age can I use contraception without my parent’s permission in the UK?

Remember first that you have to be 16 or over to be sexually active in the UK.

Contraception advice is free and confidential for most people in the UK including people who are under 16 years of age.

Doctors and nurses will not speak to anyone about your visit if they believe you are mature enough to understand the information they have provided.

There is no lower age limit for the purchase of condoms, however most surgeries, family planning centres and Brook advisory clinics will offer this type of contraception for free. Even some school nurses carry condoms, if you prefer to chat to someone in school.

Girls under the age of 16 and over the age of 13 can be prescribed the contraceptive pill by their GP and this is sometimes offered to girls who have irregular or heavy periods. It is always wise however to discuss this with your parents as a first option.

What age can I smoke in the UK?

The minimum age is 18 for the purchase of cigarettes, tobacco or other smoking products such as e-cigarettes or e-liquids. It is important to know that if you are under the age of 16 and a police officer sees you smoking in a public place they have the right to confiscate your cigarettes.

What age can I view or read pornography in the UK?

It has never been illegal to watch pornography in the United Kingdom unless it falls under what the law would call ‘extreme pornography’, which is against the law and there to protect individuals from viewing material the law deems unsuitable. It is however against the law for a person under the age of 18 to purchase pornography such as videos or magazines.

Finally, remember that even when you are legally old enough to do the things listed, you do not have to and if anyone forces you to take part or do something against your will this is considered unlawful too.


Add your Comment







Hey There

MAE579, its fine if you don't start your periods or grow boobs, my mom started hers when she was 16years old. If u feel uncomfortable that you don't wear a bra yet, ask your mom for one.

to mae579

chillax...things should just happen in there own time


A girl at my school is about 12 and her lungs collapsed due to her smoking


I am 14 and I haven’t had a period or even start to grow boobs yet. Why havent I and everyone else in my year is already wearing bras...


At my school this group of girls aged 12-16 All hang around in the alleyway and smoke it's horrid and the 12 year old can't breathe very well anymore. I think she was forced into it.


I want to have a job soon to earn a bit of pocket money but i have no idea what to do. Any suggestions? BTW I could wash cars but I don't think I'd be good at it


I think this information is useful for people our age and younger and over


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