My identity

At what age can I…

age-piercing120Body Piercing

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.

age-namechange120Change of Name

Your parents can change your name at any age without your consent, but you can seek a Prohibited Steps Order from the court if you do not agree. For advice on how to do this use our Contact Form.

s.8 Children Act 1989

If you want to change your name, and you are under 16, you will need the consent of every person with parental responsibility for you. You can make an application to court if your parents do not consent.

ss.13 and 33(7) Children Act 1989

At the age of 16, you can change your name by deed poll without parental consent or the consent of the court.


You can make a complaint at any age if you believe you are being treated differently, or being discriminated against on the basis of race, religion or belief, disability, sex and sexual orientation.

Equality Act 2010

age-ward120Ward of court

You can be made a ward of court until the age of 18.

s.41 Supreme Court Act 1981

For more information, see Wardship.


You can choose your own religion at any age once you have the maturity to understand what that decision means. However, if you are under 18 and follow a religion that may be harmful to you, your parents could ask the court to intervene by making you a ward of court.


If you travel abroad you will need your own passport.

You must be in the correct child restraint when travelling in a motor vehicle.

The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat
Belts) (Amendment) Regulations 2006.
s.23 Road Traffic Act

You can be a pillion passenger (sitting behind the driver) on a motorbike at any age, provided your crash helmet fits properly and both feet reach the passenger foot rests.

1988 and Regulation 102 Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986

You MUST NOT be a pillion passenger if the driver only has a provisional license.

s.16(6) Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999

At the age of 12, if you are getting a new passport, it must be signed by you and not your parent.

At the age of 14, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are wearing a seat belt in a car or mini bus if there is one fitted.

s.15 Road Traffic Act 1988

At the age of 16, you can apply for your own passport without parental consent.


At the age of 18, you cannot be adopted.

ss.56-64 Adoption and Children Act 2002

At the age of 18, if you have been adopted, you can contact the adoption agency responsible for your adoption for more information, for example, a copy of your original birth certificate.

s.80 Adoption and Children Act 2002

At the age of 18, if you have been adopted, you can apply to have your name and address put on the Adoption Contact Register.

s.21 Adoption and Children Act 2002

For more information, see Adoption-locating.

At the age of 21, you can adopt a child.

ss.50 and 51 Adoption and Children Act 2002

age-sexchange120Gender Change

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