Age of consent

Consent is when a person freely gives their permission or agrees to something. This decision needs to have been made without being:

  • pressured or bullied
  • given drugs or alcohol to change their decision
  • or, otherwise manipulated.

At what age can I legally have sex?

This is also known as the ‘age of consent’.

At the age of 16 you can consent to sex with males or females in England and Wales.

What can happen if I have underage sex?

It is a criminal offence (sexual assault) if you have sex with someone when you or they are under the age of 16, even if you have both given consent. In the eyes of the law you are unable to consent to sex when under the age of 16.

What is the definition of sex in this context?

‘Sex’ means penetrative sex, oral sex or masturbating together.