Turning 18 is a significant milestone birthday in any teen’s life as you’re now legally considered an adult.
There are many things that you are legally allowed to do at 18. However, these also come with responsibilities. You may have a lot of freedom, but you also carry a lot of responsibility for your decisions.
Mistakes are no longer considered juvenile or childish. The decisions you make from this point forward can significantly impact your life.
Having so many things change overnight can be difficult. Suddenly, you have to find a balance between being independent, having a lot more freedom, and being responsible.
There is also a lot of research showing that the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, and therefore making adult decisions does not yet come naturally.
Therefore, if you are turning 18 this year, take full advantage of the new freedoms, but also realize the responsibilities that come with them.
Things You Can Do At 18
On July 1, 1971, the 26th amendment to the Constitution established the legal voting age as 18. Once you are registered to vote, you can vote in all national and local elections.
Join the military
Now that you’re legally an adult, you can enlist or be drafted into any branch of the military.
Have an alcoholic drink ( Europe & Canada)
In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, but this does not mean you have to be 21 everywhere. You can toast your good fortune in some places, such as Canada and several European countries, where the drinking age is 18.
Work in a bar and serve drinks
You can work in a bar and serve alcoholic drinks, even though you can’t yet consume alcohol yourself. Mmmm that sounds like a problem waiting to happen.
Get a body piercing or tattoo without parental consent
Sign a contract
Once a person reaches 18 years of age, they are believed to be capable of adult thought, reason, commitment, and responsibility, and you are therefore allowed to sign your own contracts. Agreements, leases, contracts, obligations, and legal entanglements are made voluntarily by adults. However, these agreements also hold you accountable for every stipulation therein.
Change your birth name
If you are not happy with your birth name, you can now rename yourself by filing a petition with your local civil court.
Rent an apartment
The wait is over if you waited all these years for independence. Taking responsibility for your life and moving out of the parental home is now within your grasp! However, you might want to be sure that it’s worth it, as it’s a pretty cushy life at home #justsaying
Book a hotel room and Rent Airbnb
Although this sounds like fun, it also means that you’ll have to pay for it yourself, so perhaps best to share it with a friend.
Sign yourself out of high school
At 18, as a legal adult in the U.S., you can check yourself out of school. However, legal adults are still subject to school attendance policies. While it is possible to check yourself out, it could be recorded as an unexcused absence.
Be called for jury duty
From 18 to 70 years of age, you will be eligible and may qualify to serve in the federal courts on a jury.
Open a bank account
Many parents open a savings account for their kids for pocket and spending money. When you turn 18, some banks will convert these into adult accounts, with different fees associated with them—turning 18 means that you now need to take control of your finances.
Apply for a loan
One of the things you can do at 18 is to be able to apply for a loan. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get one. Loan approvals may be contingent on having a job.
Apply for a credit card
Once you turn 18, you can apply for your first credit card without a cosigner. Although having a credit card is exciting, it does come with a big commitment at the same time. Even though credit cards can get you into trouble, they’re a great way to develop your credit now that your finances are up to you. Make sure to understand the interest rate and make payments in time.
Buy real estate or apply for a mortgage
With the availability of a loan and the ability to work full-time, you can also invest in more expensive items, including land, a house, or an apartment.
You must be at least 18 years old to invest in the stock market on your own, without a parent or guardian account. It’s a great idea to invest money if you have the means.
Have sex with a consenting adult (18 years or older)
Federal law establishes 18 as the legal age for having a sexual relationship with another adult. Depending on your state’s law, the age of consent may be lower or higher.
Get married without parental permission
The majority of states allow young adults to marry without parental consent after they turn 18. In Mississippi, you have to be 21, and in Nebraska, you have to be 19 before you can marry without parental consent.
Create a will
While you might not have much to leave to anyone, it’s still a good idea to create a Will early on if anything were to happen to you later.
Apply to find your biological parents
If you are adopted, you can request a copy of your original birth certificate.
Work with knives and ovens
Just a random addition to our list, but if you’ve wanted to be a meat slicer at your local deli, or bake cakes or bread at the bakery, then now’s the time to go after your dream.
Work full time in the school year
Child labor laws restricted your working hours as a minor. However, as a legal adult, you can work full-time and even overtime.
Apply for higher qualifying jobs
Before the age of 18, you can’t work full time and will most likely only have had Summer jobs. Once you turn legal age in the job market, you have the same chances as anyone else. Utilize this opportunity by applying to better jobs.
Donate blood and become an organ donor
By registering to donate blood or organs, you can contribute to saving people’s lives. Now you can become a responsible adult who contributes to society.
Go to the ER alone and get treatment
Hopefully, you’ll have someone with you if you need to go to the ER, and most parents will be by their children’s side no matter how old their child is, but you can now consent to your own medical care.
Give consent for your own vaccines
Your parents have managed your vaccine schedule until now, but now it’s up to you to decide on whether or not you want to have the latest jab.
File a lawsuit or sue someone
Any person who is 18 years of age or older and mentally competent can file a lawsuit. Remember that you can now also be sued and tried as an adult.
Adopt a child
When you turn 18, you can legally adopt a child (and a puppy as well). However, the likelihood of getting approved for either is another story.
Buy or adopt a pet
At 18, you can officially buy or adopt a pet. However, you will have to pass the pet adoption criteria first, just like everyone else.
Buy a car
You might be lucky enough to have a car already thanks to your parents. However, you are now legally allowed to sign for and buy your own car if you have the finances.
Drive late at night
Many states have curfews that limit minors’ time permitted to drive after dark without an adult present. People under 18 would receive a traffic violation if pulled over after a certain hour. Now you’re free to drive late at night, as long as you’re safe and follow all traffic rules.
Obtain special driving permits
At 18, you can now train for and acquire special driving licenses. This includes transportation services, like driving a taxi. However, most taxi operators prefer to employ over 25 yr olds due to lower insurance fees. You can also get a license to drive a truck, although interstate trucking is only allowed from 21 years of age. You can get a license to ride a motorbike above 125cc and drive lorries with a trailer up to 750kg.
Unleash the Travel Bug
Although you can travel before you’re 18, you can now travel much more easily, and you don’t have to answer to anyone. Hop in your car and take a road trip with friends. Or, if you’ve saved enough cash, it might be time to travel abroad.
Get a 10-year passport
Finally, you can travel on your own, and you’ll only have to renew your passport every ten years, instead of every four years previously, saving you a lot of time and money.
Book a Cruise
Did you know? When you turn 18, you can finally go on a cruise by yourself! However, certain cruise lines might have slightly different restrictions for anyone under 21 years of age.
Attend a Festival without a legal guardian
Although festivals are often for all ages, those under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Now that you’re 18, you can attend festivals like Coachella as an adult.
Get into extreme sports
The age of 18 brings with it a lot of opportunities, such as skydiving and bungee jumping. However, remember that extreme sports require the signature of an adult for a reason. Be aware of the risk that you’re taking.
Buy a lottery ticket
Whether it’s a scratch-off ticket or a Powerball ticket, players 18 and older can participate in the lottery. It might not be on every 18-year-old’s bucket list, but it’s always great to try something new and test your luck!
Bet on a horse race (in most states)
Although most sports betting requires you to be 21 years of age, the legal horse betting age is 18 in most states. You can see the sports betting ages by state here.
Pawn your belongings
If you’re short of cash, you’re now allowed to pawn your belongings.
Even though this may sound like a strange law that you can only buy spraypaint from 18 years of age, there are several reasons why it is prohibited before then. Firstly to stop teen graffiti, and more importantly, to prevent minors from inhaling the fumes to get high. The chemicals in aerosol products like spraypaint are seriously toxic. These chemicals kill brain cells, cause respiratory problems, as well as kidney and liver failure.
Buy cough suppressants
Minors are not allowed to buy over-the-counter cough medicine as many teens were abusing it to get high. As an adult, it’s expected that you understand the dangers of substance abuse and can therefore purchase medicines for the right reasons.
For obvious safety reasons, some items can only be purchased after the age of 18.
Enter an adults-only store & Buy adult videos
Yes, you’re now legally allowed to enter an adults-only store. However, most 18yr olds would still be way too embarrassed to be seen in one. It’s totally up to you.
Visit a nightclub (only some, though)
Although most nightclubs are still strictly 21, as they don’t want to bother with checking for underage drinking, there are a few that allow 18-year-olds. The rules depend on the nightclub, and some have special teen evenings open to 16 to 20 yr olds.
Visit a Strip Club
At 18, you’re legally allowed to visit a strip club, and you are legally allowed to strip – though Texas recently changed the age to 21. However, if they serve alcohol on the premises, then you have to be 21.
Go to adult jail
Sorry to end on a downer, but as an 18-year-old, you are responsible for your own actions and decisions. You will be treated as an adult if you end up in legal trouble, and you will be prosecuted accordingly.
What Are The Things You Still Can’t Do Even Though You’re 18?
Although turning 18 can be an exciting time full of new freedoms, responsibilities, and opportunities, there are still some restrictions on what you can do, even though you’re now considered an adult.
It might seem contradictory, or even unfair, but recent research has found that the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25 or so.
In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.” urmc.rochester.edu
Buying cigarettes (21 years old)
According to Wikipedia, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 years to possess or purchase tobacco products. The exception is for those in active duty while 18 years old. Before 1991, the minimum age to purchase tobacco products was 16 years of age, then in 2000 was raised from 16 to 18 and yet again was raised from 18 to 21 in 2020.
Purchasing and drinking alcohol (21 years old in the US)
In many countries, you’re allowed to drink alcohol when you turn 18; however, you will have to wait until you turn 21 in the States.
Buying marijuana (21, where it’s legal)
Even though many states have legalized the use of cannabis for medical or recreational use, you still won’t be allowed to buy it until you are 21 years old.
Rent a car (25)
Although some rental companies allow younger drivers to rent a car in certain states, there will usually be an additional fee to cover the higher insurance costs.
Which companies allow teens to rent a car?
Alamo, Avis, Dollar, Hertz, National, and Thrifty allow 18-year-old drivers to rent a car in New York and Michigan for an additional fee. Budget, on the other hand, only allows renters aged 18 in New York. The minimum age to rent a car through Fox is 19, but the minimum age for renters and drivers on government orders is 18. U.S. military personnel and government employers ages 18 or older will not incur a young driver surcharge when renting for authorized government travel.vroomvroomvroom.com
Going to a casino (21 years old)
Even though you can buy a scratch card, you still won’t be allowed to go into a casino until you are 21 years old.
What Are Your Responsibilities When You Turn 18?
Be a responsible and law-abiding citizen
The responsibility for your actions now rests with you since you are a legal adult. You will be charged as an adult if you violate any law. This means that you would go to jail, and no longer a juvenile detention center if you commit a misdemeanor or crime as an 18-year-old.
Register with the Selective Service System
All males have to register with the Selective Service System within a month of turning 18. According to the law, if you fail to do so, you can be prosecuted. If convicted, you may have to spend up to five years in jail and/or be fined up to $250,000.
Repay your debts
As an adult you are able to apply for a loan, however, you are also legally required to repay any debts you incur. Learn how to look after your own finances and try to repay any debt as quickly as possible.
Pay your taxes
When you apply for a job, you will need to sign a contract and a tax form. You will also be responsible for submitting your tax returns and paying your taxes.
Take responsibility for all your personal documents
These include your passport, birth certificate, social security card, identification, medical, and other insurance documents. Be sure to store these in a safe place.
Look after your physical and mental health
Remember that as an adult, it is your responsibility to look after yourself. Although this is probably the last thing on your mind, it’s important to look after your physical and mental health. You might not have your parents providing you with healthy meals, clean clothes, and a balanced routine.
As you won’t have your parents’ nagging’ you anymore, it’s time to take on the responsibility of looking after your own physical and mental well-being.
I just wanted to remind everyone that just because you’re allowed to do something doesn’t mean you should.
Taking responsibility for your actions is one of the most important aspects of becoming an adult.
It is up to you to make your life what you want it to be.
Be mindful of your choices and steer your life in the right direction.