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Everything you need to know about legal ages in Ireland

Learn more about at what age you can do things in Ireland


Written by Children's Rights Alliance and posted in life


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children's Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

In Ireland there are different restrictions on what you can do depending on what age you are. Below are some of the age restrictions on young people in Ireland. Visit our Rights section to learn more about your rights as a young person. 

At what age can I...?

Be independent 

  • Be recognised as a child? While you are under 18 unless you are or have been married
  • Join Comhairle/Dail na nOg: Age 12
  • Vote: Age 18
  • Stand for general or local election: Age 18
  • Sit on a jury: Age 18
  • Join a social networking site or access other services online: 16 without parental consent and at least 13 with parental consent for most social networking sites
  • Change my name: Age under 14 parent may do it on your behalf or if you are aged 14-18 you will need parental consent
  • Leave home: Age 16 with parental consent and 18 without parental consent
  • Have my own passport: No minimum age but parental consent needed until 18
  • Sign a lease to rent accommodation: Age 18
  • Leave state care: Age 18
  • Get married: Age 18
  • Make a will: Age 18, unless you are or have been married

Finish school

  • Join Youthreach: Age 15
  • Leave school: Age 16, or until you have completed three years of secondary school, whichever occurs later
  • Get an apprenticeship: Age 16, if your parent or guardian agrees
  • Get a part-time job: Age 14. You may only work during school holidays and for a limited number of hours each week
  • Get a full-time job: Age 16

Make health decisions

  • Receive private medical advice from a doctor: Age 16, but the doctor may share information with your parent or guardian until you are 18
  • Get medical treatment (other than mental health) without your parent’s or guardian’s permission: Age 16
  • Get mental health treatment without your parent’s or guardian’s permission: Age 18
  • Refuse medical treatment without your parent’s or guardian’s permission: Age 18
  • Give blood: Age 18
  • Consent to sex: Age 17

Drive

  • Drive a motorcycle, moped or tractor: Age 16
  • Drive a car: Age 17
  • Get a pilot’s licence: Age 16

Join the Army/Gardaí

  • Join the Reserve Defence forces: Age 18
  • Join An Garda Síochána or permanent Defence Forces: Age 18

Be responsible for a crime

  • Be arrested on suspicion of committing a crime and brought to court: Age 12 (or 10 for serious crimes)
  • Be sent to a children’s detention school: Age 10 to 17
  • Be sent to prison:  Age 18 and over

Buy certain things

  • Own a dog: Age 16
  • Buy a lottery ticket or place a bet: Age 18
  • Buy cigarettes: Age 18
  • Buy alcohol: Age 18
  • Be in a pub: Under 15 only in the company of a parent or guardian and between 10.30am (12.30pm on a Sunday) and 9.00pm. 15 to 18 – between 10.30am (12.30pm on Sundays) and 9.00pm.

Access my records

  • Access education and health records: Age 18, while under 18, your parent or guardian may access your records on your behalf.
  • Apply for gender recognition certificate: You can apply for a gender recognition certificate at age 16.
  • Travel without a car seat (child restraint system): You must use a car seat suitable for your child’s height and weight until they reach 150cm in height or 36kg in weight.

For some things, there is no minimum age limit set out in law

These include:

  • signing a petition
  • taking a taxi
  • getting a tattoo or piercing (most places set their own age requirement)
  • staying home alone
  • babysitting

Take our minimum ages Quiz and test your knowledge of your rights. 

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published June 17th2020
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