Kids and teens: Rules to consider

Age may be subjective, but when it comes to kids and teens, here are some rules to consider.
Kids and teens: Rules to consider


At 3:

In most places, movies are no longer free. You now have to pay a child’s admission price for your little one.


At 5:

  • Bus trips are no longer free. They will now be charged a child fare.

  • Your child is entitled to start school.

At 6:

  • Your child is legally obliged to be at school, unless you live more than 3km from the school, in which case they must start at seven.

At 10:

  • They can be legally prosecuted for murder or manslaughter.


At 12:

  • If they are called to testify in court, they have to take a formal oath. Under this age, they must only promise to tell the truth.

  • You now have to fork out the adult fare for them on flights. They can travel alone on international flights as an unaccompanied minor.


At 14:

  • Your child can be left without adult supervision. They can also babysit younger children, as long as they are considered to be capable of reasonable supervision and care.

  • They are now old enough to be prosecuted for any criminal offence.

At 16:

  • Your teenager can sit their driving test and get their learner licence.

  • They can leave school and work full time. They are also old enough to be expelled from school (rather than excluded).

  • They are entitled to the minimum adult wage as long as they are not considered a new entrant or trainee.

  • They can leave home. But if Child, Youth and Family considers they are at risk, it can send them home until they turn 17.

  • Your teenager can apply for certain benefits, such as the Independent Youth Benefit and Invalid’s Benefit.

  • They can legally have sex. If they have treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, their doctor does not have to tell you.

  • They can get married or enter a civil union as long as they have your consent. As soon as they do that, you are no longer their legal guardian.

  • If you and their other parent split up, they can decide which of you they want to live with.

  • They can get a tattoo without your permission.

  • They can decide whether to agree to medical treatment or refuse it. They can’t be treated for mental disorders without their consent, unless they are under a compulsory treatment order.

  • They have to pay adult prices at the movies. They’re also considered adults by many bus companies, unless they are still a student and have a student ID card or are in school uniform.

  • They can apply for a firearms licence.

At 17:

  • Your child is old enough to get their full driving licence.

  • They can join the army, air force or navy.

  • Police can question them without you or another adult being present. If they are charged with a criminal offence, they will appear in the District Court, not the Youth Court.

  • Child, Youth and Family can no longer get an order for your child’s care and protection.

At 20, your child can legally enter a casino


At 18:

  • You are no longer your child’s legal guardian.

  • They can get married or enter a civil union without your consent.

  • They are no longer entitled to free dental care.

  • They can buy alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.

  • They can join the police. They can also be employed in a bar or liquor store.

  • They can apply for the Unemployment Benefit, Domestic Purposes Benefit, Sickness Benefit or the Student Allowance.

  • They’re allowed to ask their bank for a cheque account, credit card or a loan.

  • They can place a bet at the TAB or a racecourse, and buy Instant Kiwi tickets (they can buy a Lotto ticket at any age).

  • They can buy fireworks.

  • They can vote and stand as a political candidate.

  • They can be called for jury service.

At 19:

  • They are no longer eligible for free education unless they have special needs.

  • If they’re adopted, they can prevent Births, Deaths and Marriages from giving their details to their birth parents.

At 20:

  • Although they were granted many adult rights when they turned 18, they aren’t officially regarded as an adult until now.

  • If they’re adopted, they can apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages for a copy of their pre-adoption birth certificate to find the names of their birth parents.

  • They can adopt a child related to them. They can’t adopt a non-relative until they’re 25, and the child has to be at least 20 years younger than them.

  • They can legally enter a casino.

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