Adulthood: where does it begin? In reality, that answer kind of depends on which metric of adulthood you're looking at, as the minimum legal ages for things – ranging from driver's licenses to military service and legal recreational cannabis – varies. Across the gamut of minimum legal ages in the United States, one thing is consistent: there is no consistency.
Are there some things that the minimum age requirement is too high on, though? Is it fair to require people to be 21 to legally purchase alcohol? Is 18 a good minimum age to set for tattoos without parental consent?
The age to acquire birth control
Depending on the state, the minimum age to acquire birth control without parental consent ranges from 16-18.
The age to rent a car
Depending on the retailer, minimum ages to rent a car fall somewhere between 21-24.
The age to buy cold medicine
In some states, 18 is the minimum age to purchase certain over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.
The retirement age
In 2017, the "full benefit" retirement age was 66 years and two months for people born in 1955.
The age to buy tickets to R-rated movies
Individuals under age 17 require an accompanying parent or guardian (age 21 or older) to attend R rated performances.
The age to purchase and drink alcohol
The minimum legal drinking age in the US is 21.
The age to get a piercing
In most states, the minimum age needed to get a piercing without parental consent is 18.
The age to get a fishing license
Depending on the state, the minimum age for a fishing license ranges between 14-16 years.
The age to become president
If an individual meets the other requirements for becoming US President, they must also be at least 35 years old.
The age to become a US senator
To serve as a US Senator, an individual must be at least 30 years old.
The age to vote in elections
Depending on the city or state and the type of election, minimum voting ages range from 16-18.
The age to purchase recreational cannabis (in states where it's legal)
In the US states where it has been legalized, 21 is the minimum age to purchase recreational marijuana.
The age to get a tattoo
In most states, the minimum age needed to get a tattoo without parental consent is 18.
The age to become a congressional representative
To serve in the House of Representatives, an individual must be at least 25 years old.
The age for part-time employment
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for part-time employment at 14.
The age to purchase adult entertainment
In most states, the minimum age to legally purchase and view adult entertainment is 18.
The age to legally gamble
Depending on the state, the minimum age to legally gamble ranges between 18-21.
The age to get a hunting license
Many states have a minimum age of 16 years for licensed, unsupervised hunting.
The age to purchase cigarettes
The minimum legal age to purchase cigarettes ranges from 18-21 depending on the state.
The legal age of adulthood
In most states, 18 is the legal age of adulthood.
The age to drive a car
The age to become a legal guardian
In most states, the legal age to become a legal guardian is the age of adulthood: 18.
The age to fly a plane
The minimum age for a private pilot license is 16.
The age to legally purchase a firearm
The federal minimum age to purchase handguns from licensed dealers is 21; it's 18 to purchase them from private sellers. The federal minimum for long guns sold by licensed dealers is 18; there is no minimum age to purchase long guns from private sellers.
The age to drive a motorcycle
The minimum age for a learner's permit varies by state and ranges from 14-16 years; the minimum age for a driver's license ranges from 16-18.