At what age can I…
You can have your body pierced at any age, although your parents may have to go with you and provide consent. Different local authorities and piercing parlors have their own rules so you should check these before you book an appointment.
It could be considered sexual assault to have a genital or female nipple piercing if you are under 18.
Medical Treatment and Examination
You can give consent to surgical, medical (including contraceptive) or dental treatment at any age provided the doctor decides that you fully understand what it involves.
Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority  3 All ER 402
The court can make a decision on your behalf if they feel that you’re not acting in your best interests.
Re W (A Minor) (Medical Treatment: A Court’s Jurisdiction)  3 WLR 758
You have the right to seek advice and counselling at any age once you have the maturity to understand what that request fully means. However, your right to complete confidentiality could be restricted if you are at risk of significant harm.
Department of Health Guidance: ‘Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice 2003’
At the age of 16, you can consent to surgical, medical or dental treatment, including the taking of blood samples (see also ‘At Any Age’). You can also choose your own doctor.
ss.8 and 21(2) Family Law Reform Act 1969
At the age of 16, if you are female, you can buy emergency contraception (the ‘morning after’ pill) over-the-counter in a pharmacy.
s.2 Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendment (No 3) Order 2000
At the age of 16, you have to pay prescription charges, 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
At the age of 16, you have to pay for a sight test and for glasses unless you are in full-time education.
Regulations 3 and 8 National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1997
At the age of 18, you have to pay for dental treatment unless you are still in full- time education, pregnant or certain other circumstances apply.
Schedule 5 National Health Service (dental Charges) Regulations 2005
At the age of 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
If you are under 16 you need your parents’ consent to carry a donor card and your parents will need to agree to your organs being used after death.
You cannot use a sunbed under the age of 18 unless it is for medical treatment under the supervision or direction of a registered medical practitioner.
s.1 and 3 Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010
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 the age of 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
You may enter a bar at any age as long as you are with someone over the age of 18.
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
At the age of 16, you can enter a bar on your own, but you can only buy non-alcoholic drinks. It is a criminal offence to buy, attempt to buy or drink alcohol in licensed premises.
ss.145, 149 and 150 Licensing Act 2003
At the age of 16, you can drink beer, cider or wine with a meal if you are with a person over the age of 18.
s.149 Licensing Act 2003
At the age of 16, you can buy liqueur (alcoholic) chocolates.
At the age of 18, you can buy and drink alcohol in a bar.
s.146 Licensing Act 2003
At the age of 18, you can apply for a licence to sell alcohol.
s.111 Licensing Act 2003
At the age of 16, you can consent to all sexual activity (heterosexual and homosexual) involving anyone aged 16 years and over.
ss.9 and 13 Sexual Offences Act 2003
For more information, see Age of consent.
At the age of 17, you can donate blood without parental consent, if a qualified health professional thinks that you have sufficient knowledge and understanding of what is involved.
Part 3 of the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005
At the age of 18, you can make an application for a gender change certificate if you have been living as the other gender or have changed gender.
s.1 Gender Recognition Act 2004
At the age of 18, you can get a tattoo.
s.1 Tattooing of Minors Act 1969
At the age of 14, your parents can be granted a justices’ license which will let you take part in public performances abroad. This can include singing, playing, performing, being exhibited for profit, and taking part in a sport or working as a model.
s.25 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
At the age of 16, you can take part in public performances without a local authority licence.
s.37 Children and Young Persons Act 1963
At the age of 18, you can take part in an exhibition or performance of hypnotism.
s.3 Hypnotism Act 1952
At the age of 12, you can be trained to take part in dangerous performances as long as the local authority gives you a licence.
s.24 Children and Young Persons Act 1933