What Can You Do at What Age? in Rights

Up to date information about the age of consent and what you can legally do in Scotland, 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).

At 7 you can:

  • Take money out of a National Savings account. 
  • Buy and sell National Savings certificates. 

At 8 you can: 

  • Be found guilty of a criminal offence. Between the ages 8-12 you will be referred to the Children’s Reporter who will decide whether there are grounds for concern. 

At 11 you can:

  • Get a free Young Scot NEC card.

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 ‘12A’ rated film on your own and rent or buy a '12A' rated video. 
  • Be the subject of an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
  • Register as an organ donor without parental/guardian consent.
  • Consent to your own adoption.
  • Access personal records.
  • Make a freedom of information request from a public authority.

At 13 you can: 

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

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:

  • Go to 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, cider or perry (i.e. Babycham), to drink in a restaurant only with a meal, but cannot buy it in a bar, off-licence or supermarket. 
  • Join a trade union. 
  • Drive a moped, invalid carriage, 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
  • Buy a National Lottery ticket or scratch card (there is no age restriction on a private lottery ticket).
  • Stand for election to become a member of a Community Council in certain areas.
  • If adopted, get information about your natural parents.
  • 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 10 year passport without parental/guardian consent.
  • Choose legal representation without parental involvement. 
  • 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).
  • 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 buses and trains (unless you have a travel concession pass).
  • Officially change your name without parental/guardian consent.
  • Get a skin piercing without parental/guardian consent.
  • Join a ScotWest credit union. For more information on Credit Unions and to join the Young Scot Extra Savings Account visit the ScotWest website.
  • You can vote in an election for your local councillor and MSP (Scottish Parliament).

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 an election for your local MP (UK Parliament) and MEP (European Parliament).
  • Stand for election as a local councillor, MP (UK Parliament) or MSP (Scottish Parliament).
  • 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.
  • See any film/hire any video. 
  • Buy or possess fireworks.
  • Place a bet.
  • Hold a credit card.
  • Work behind a bar. 
  • Be 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.

At 21 you can: 

  • Stand in European parliamentary elections as an MEP.
  • 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.

Within reason, you can do the following at any age...

  • Choose any religion to follow, but if your parent/guardian considers the religion harmful, the court may be asked to intervene. 
  • Have a Bank/Building Society Savings Account in the name of the child's parent/guardian as a trustee of the child, until the child is 7 or older.
  • Get access to personal information held on computer under the Data Protection Act 1998. 
  • Get access to your health records, or social work records which are held manually. 
  • Make a complaint under the Equality Act. 
  • Donate your organs upon your death (if you have sufficient understanding then it is not always necessary to have parents’/guardian’s consent). You can carry an organ donor card at any age.
  • Hold premium bonds that were bought by a parent, guardian, grandparent or great-grandparent. 
  • Own property (usually held in trust until older). 
  • Have a passport (your parents/guardians apply until you are 16) but it's yours in your own right.
  • Receive advice about birth control and be prescribed contraception without the consent of your parents, although the doctor may try to persuade you to talk to your parents if you are under 16. 
  • Choose your own legal representation so long as are capable of understanding what you’re doing. 
  • Be called as a witness though the court decides if you have sufficient understanding to give evidence. 
  • Be employed as a performer. 
  • See a PG or U film. 

Call the Young Scot LawLine

Need 24/7 legal advice?
Find out more on rights and issues affecting 11-25 year old's including debt, welfare, housing, employment, mental health and relationships.
Call free on 0808 801 0 801.