Buy and consume

At what age can I…

age-drink120Alcohol

You may enter a bar at any age as long as you are with someone over the age of 18. You may be asked to show ID to prove that you are 18 years or older.

Ss.145 Licensing
Act 2003

The police may confiscate alcohol from you if you are drinking in a public place or anywhere that you have entered illegally. They can also confiscate alcohol from anyone who intends to give you alcohol to drink in either of these places.

Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997

You can enter a bar on your own at 16, but you can only buy non-alcoholic drinks. It is a criminal offence to buy, attempt to buy or drink alcohol in licensed premises at 16.

ss.145, 149 and 150 Licensing Act 2003

You can drink beer, cider or wine with a meal at 16 if you are with a person over the age of 18.

s.149 Licensing Act 2003

You can buy liqueur (alcoholic) chocolates at 16.

s.148 Licensing Act 2003

You can buy and drink alcohol in a bar at 18. You may be asked to show ID to prove that you are 18 years or older.

s.146 Licensing Act 2003

You can apply for a licence to sell alcohol at 18.

s.111 Licensing Act 2003

age-contract120Contracts

Generally, if you are under 18 you cannot enter into contracts. Contracts are legally binding agreements where something valuable is exchanged. The law says that under this age you can make valid contracts for necessary things – for example, food or clothing – but not motorbikes, electrical equipment or mobile phone contracts.

s.3 Minors’ Contracts Act 1987

You can enter contracts at 18, this means you can make binding contracts in your own right. You can own land, buy a house or flat, hold a tenancy or apply for a mortgage. You can become entitled to any property that has been held in trust for you.

 s.35 Finance Act 2005

You can act as an executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate at 18.

s.1(a) Minors’ Contracts Act 1987

You can sell an item at a pawnshop at 18.

s.114(2) Consumer Credit Act 1974

age-movie120Film Classifications

You can see a U or PG category film at a cinema at any age without an adult, but it is the cinema manager’s choice whether to let you in or not. You can buy or rent a U or PG category video, but it is the shopkeeper’s decision whether or not to let you do this.

ss.20 and 74 Licensing Act 2003

At 12 you can see a 12A category film at the cinema without an adult. You can also rent or buy a 12 category video.

ss.20 and 74 Licensing Act 2003

At 15 you can see a 15 category film at the cinema. You can also rent or buy a 15 category video.

ss.20 and 74 Licensing Act 2003

At 18 you can view an 18 category film at the cinema.

ss.20 and 74 Licensing Act 2003

At 18 you can buy or rent a video given a certificate for viewing by adults only.

s.7 Video Recordings Act 1984

age-smoke120Smoking

You can smoke cigarettes at any age, but you are not allowed to buy them until you are 18.

 s.7 (1) Children and Young Persons Act 193 as amended by the Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc) Order 2007

If you are caught smoking by a uniformed police officer or park keeper in a public place when under 16, he or she can take away your tobacco and cigarette papers.

s.7 Children and Young Persons Act 1933

At 18 you can buy cigarettes, tobacco and cigarette papers.

s.7 Children and Young Persons Act 1933. As amended by the Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc) Order 2007

age-spraycan120Aerosol Paint

You can buy aerosol paint at 16.

s.54 Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003

age-gamble120Gambling

You can buy a National Lottery ticket at 16.

National Lottery Regulations 1994

At 18 you can enter a betting shop and place a bet. You can also work in one. You may enter premises in which gaming takes place.

ss.46,47,51 Gambling Act 2005

age-medical120Medical Treatment

You can consent to surgical, medical or dental treatment at 16, including the taking of blood samples. You can also choose your own doctor at 16.

ss.8 and 21(2) Family Law Reform
Act 1969

If you are female, you can buy emergency contraception (the ‘morning after’ pill) over-the-counter in a pharmacy at 16.

s.2 Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendment (No 3) Order 2000

You have to pay prescription charges at 16, unless you are in full-time education, pregnant, receiving income support, on a low income or in certain other circumstances.

Regulation 7 National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations 2000

You have to pay for a sight test and for glasses at 16 unless you are in full-time education.

Regulations 3 and 8 National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1997

You have to pay for dental treatment at 18 unless you are still in full- time education, pregnant or certain other circumstances apply.

Schedule 5 National Health Service (dental Charges) Regulations 2005

At 19 you have to pay for dental treatment even if you are in full-time education, but you can apply to be exempt if you have a
low income.

The National Health Service (Dental Charges) Regulations 2005

For more information, see Healthcare.


age-pet120Pets

You can buy a pet at 16.

s.11 Animal Welfare Act 2006

age-gun120Weapons

You can buy or hire any firearm or ammunition at 17.

s.22(1)
Firearms Act 1968

At 18 you can buy or hire an air weapon or ammunition for an air weapon.

s.22(1) Firearms Act 1968 as amended by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

You can have an air weapon under the age of 18, as long as you are supervised by someone aged 21 or over, or you are using it at a rifle club or shooting gallery.

ss.22 and 23 Firearms Act 1968
as amended by the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

age-fireworks120Fireworks

You can buy fireworks at 18.

Regulation 6 Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997