40 BIG Things Your Teen Can Do When They Turn 18

Turning 18 is a MAJOR milestone in your teen's life... here's why!

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 40 BIG Things Your Teen Can Do When They Turn 18

Written by: Marybeth Bock

You’re probably thinking, “How can this be?”

That precious little baby you carried home from the hospital a few years ago (really, it seems like just yesterday!) is about to turn 18 years old… crazy, right?

This birthday is a BIG deal and a major milestone teenagers look forward to for a lot of reasons. 

Not only are they now considered a full-fledged legal adult, (and oh… do they love to remind you of that!) but they can now do a lot of things they never could before. In fact, you might be surprised to learn ALL the things your teen can do now that they’ve reached the ripe ‘ole age of 18. Check out these 40 BIG things your teen can do when they turn 18.

40 BIG Things Your Teen Can Do When They Turn 18


Legal ThingsThey Can Do

1. Vote

In most countries, 18 is the legal voting age. This means your teen can participate in elections… finally! They have an official voice!

2. Change Their Name (Without Parental Consent)

If your teen chooses to change their name, 18 is the magic age that allows them to do that without parental consent.

3. Join the Military (With Parental Approval They Can Join at 17)

An 18-year-old can join any branch of the military without parental consent. (Remember that with few exceptions, 18-year-old male U.S. citizens and immigrants need to register for the draft.)

4. Serve on a Jury

While some adults complain about jury duty, your new adult just might love having a say in the judicial system and playing a part in bringing fairness and justice to the world. 

5. Draft a Will

If your teen decides to will their expensive laptop or Apple Watch to his or her sibling, he can now do that without parental involvement. 


Financial Things They Can Do

6. Open a Bank Account

18-year-olds can open their own bank accounts and manage their own financial affairs. 

7. Apply for Credit Cards

Sure, it’s cool to be able to apply for a credit card now that they’re a legal adult, but you might want to chat with your teen about sneaky credit card interest rates to steer clear of credit card debt.

8. Apply for a Loan

Their options might be limited compared to older (more seasoned) borrowers.. but yes, your child can apply for a personal loan (oftentimes, without any major credit history). 

9. Sign a Legal Contract

It’s one of the many perks of being an official adult – your teen can now sign (and, of course, be held responsible for) a legal and binding contract.

10. File a Lawsuit

Now that they’re 18, they’re considered officially competent to stand up in court.

11. Sue Someone

Yep… they can sue someone. But heads up, now that they’re considered a legal adult they can also be sued. 

12. Buy Real Estate and Apply for a Mortgage

Not that a whole lot of 18-year-olds have the cash to put down on a house.. but if they did, they could now do it solo!

13. Rent an Apartment

Got a teen who is venturing out on their own and wants to really “adult?” Well, now they can sign an apartment lease without any help from Mom and Dad.

14. Buy a Car

Has your teen been saving for a car for years and they’re finally ready to make a purchase? Well, they don’t need you to be part of the transaction. (Heads up, they may still need a co-signer since they don’t have established credit.)

15. Buy Stock

Do you have a teen who’s interested in learning about the stock market or investing? Guess what? They can start buying stock and (hopefully) building their wealth. 


Health-Related Things They Can Do

16. Donate Blood

Did you know that only three percent of age-eligible people donate blood yearly? So, talk to your 18-year-old about it. It’s one of the easiest ways to save a life!

17. Become an Organ Donor

Another great way to save a life is to become an organ donor. Did you know that one donor can provide life-saving organs for up to eight people?

18. Give Consent for Their Own Medical Care

Their health is basically now “on them.” Sure you can guide your teen, but they can now make their own doctor’s appointment and manage their own healthcare. (It’s a pretty scary transition for teens that takes some getting used to.) 

19. Go to the Emergency Room Alone and Seek Treatment

Chances are, they’ll still call you if they need to go to the emergency room to seek treatment. However, now that they’re 18, they don’t “officially” need you.

20. Buy Medicine Such as Cough Syrup

No more having Mom or Dad sign off on it for them. 18-year-old teens can head to the store and purchase their own cough syrup. 


Travel-Related Things They Can Do

21. Travel Solo, Even Internationally (Without Parental Consent)

No more consent forms from non-traveling parents/guardians, nor signing up for an airline “unaccompanied minor” escort – if you’re 18, you can travel around the globe all by yourself. 

22. Book Their Own Hotel Room (In Most States)

They have to be 21 in Nevada and 19 in Alabama, but in other states, unless the hotel has a personalized age restriction due to the purpose and theme of the hotel, an 18-year-old can rent their own room. 

23. Get a 10-Year Passport

When your teen turns 18 they’re eligible to apply for a 10-year passport (as opposed to the 5-year passport for minors). Make sure they know they can hold onto their existing passport until it expires before they apply for an adult passport. 


Work-Related Things They Can Do

24. Become an Uber Driver

If your 18-year-old meets the minimum age requirement to drive in their city; they have 3 years of licensed driving experience in the U.S.; and they have an eligible 4-door vehicle, they can be their own boss and earn money as an Uber driver. 

25. Work as a Bartender (in Some States) and Serve Alcohol

While most states will allow 18-year-olds to serve alcohol the legal age to be a bartender varies by state between 18 and 21 years of age. (Note: They aren’t allowed to consume alcohol on the premises until they reach the legal drinking age.)

 26. Obtain Special Driving Permits

If your teen works for a company that has heavy equipment or provides transportation services that require special driving permits, they can now train for and acquire a special driving license.

27. Become a Realtor

If your teen is articulate, driven, and willing to put in the effort to learn, becoming a realtor at the ripe age of 18 might just be for them!


Things They Can Purchase Now That They’re 18

28. Spray Paint

Is your teen into craft projects, mural painting, or wood furniture re-styling? Whatever it is your teen has in mind that’s a legal activity, they can finally buy spray paint on their own. 

29, Fireworks

Different states have different laws regarding the types of fireworks that are available to retail consumers, but where they are for sale, you only need to be 18 to legally purchase them. 

30. A Lottery Ticket

We all like to daydream about what we’d do if we were the winner of one of those Mega Millions jackpots. Your 18-year-old can get in on the dreaming if they decide to play!

31. Adopt Their Own Pet

Most shelters and pet rescue organizations require an owner to be 18. Some places may require a potential owner to provide references and undergo a home visit, but if they pass those requirements, they’re good to go.


Other Stuff They Can Do

32. Go Bungee Jumping

Oh and guess what? That adventurous kid of yours can now bungee jump off the tallest bridge or cliff without parental consent. (I can hear your heart pounding clear over here.)

33. Get a Tattoo or a Piercing

I’ve heard a lot of parents of teens tell their kids, “You can get a tattoo or a piercing when it’s legal and you pay for it.” Well, when your teen turns 18, that time has officially arrived!

34. Rent Recreational Equipment

Depending on local regulations, 18-year-olds may have access to rental recreational equipment like jet skis, ATVs, or boats. 

35. Pawn Something

Maybe your teen has a box of old coins that a grandparent gave them, or they’re tired of their gaming system and would prefer some cash to buy something else. At 18, they can pawn something that legally belongs to them. 

36. Bet at a Horse Race

If your teen wants to have a little fun and see if they can beat the odds, they can now bet on their favorite horse now that they’re a legal adult. 

37. Go Sky Diving

If your teen has an adventurous spirit, they can now jump out of an airplane without parental consent. (If this freaks you out, parents, you might want to keep this one to yourself)

38. Get a Costco Card

Your teen doesn’t need you anymore to fill their cart at Costco.

39. Stay Out ALL Night

At 18, your child is classified as an adult and can now stay out all night without a legal curfew. 

40. Get Married!

It might be a little too soon for a lot of teenagers, but should they choose to they can tie the knot without Mom or Dad’s approval. 

While we parents may not be thrilled with every single one of these new legal privileges, if your 18-year-old decides to take advantage of their life options and conveniences as a legal adult, be there to offer them your wisdom, experience, and unconditional love. They are still maturing, evolving, and growing, so expect twists and turns in their journey as emerging adults. 

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed reading, “40 BIG Things Your Teen Can Do When They Turn 18,” you might also enjoy reading:

Help Your Teen Learn to Adult: 20 Life Skills They Need

If You Want to Let Me Grow, Then You’ve Got to Let Me Go

10 Reasons Why Your Teen is Stressed Out About Their Future

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