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Age of majority

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Subject: Children's Act, 2005, Index of youth articles, Multiple citizenship, Mature minor doctrine, Ageing
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Age of majority

The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized (and recognized or declared) in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them. Most countries set majority at 18. The word majority here refers to having greater years and being of full age; it is opposed to minority, the state of being a minor. The law in a given jurisdiction may never actually use the term "age of majority" and the term thereby refers to a collection of laws bestowing the status of adulthood. The age of majority is a legally fixed age, concept, or statutory principle, which may differ depending on the jurisdiction, and may not necessarily correspond to actual mental or physical maturity of an individual.

Age of majority should not be confused with the age of sexual consent, marriageable age, school leaving age, drinking age, driving age, voting age, smoking age, etc., which all may sometimes be independent of, and set at a different age from, the age of majority.

Although a person may attain the age of majority in a particular jurisdiction, he or she may still be subject to age-based restrictions regarding matters such as the right to vote or stand for elective office, act as a judge, and many others.


Age of majority can be confused with a similar concept, the age of license,[1] which also pertains to the threshold of adulthood but in a much broader and more abstract way. As a legal term of art, "license" means "permission", and it can implicate a legally enforceable right or privilege. Thus, an age of license is an age at which one has legal permission from government to do something. The age of majority, on the other hand, is legal recognition that one has grown into an adult.[2]

Age of majority pertains solely to the acquisition of control over one's person, decisions and actions, and the correlative termination of the legal authority of the parents (or guardian(s), in lieu of parent(s)) over the child’s person and affairs generally.

Many ages of license are correlated to the age of majority, but they are nonetheless legally distinct concepts. One need not have attained the age of majority to have permission to exercise certain rights and responsibilities. Some ages of license are actually higher than the age of majority. For example, the age of license to purchase alcoholic beverages is 21 in all U.S. states. Another example is the voting age, which prior to the 1970s was 21, while the age of majority was 18 in most states. In the Republic of Ireland the age of majority is 18, but one must be over 21 years of age to stand for election to the Houses of the Oireachtas.[3] Also, in Portugal the age of majority is 18, but one must be at least 25 years of age to run for public office.[4] A child who is legally emancipated by a court of competent jurisdiction automatically attains to their maturity upon the signing of the court order. This is distinct from the legal process by which a child might be taken into foster care and/or made a ward of the court. Foster care and court wardship do not confer maturity upon the child so separated from their parents (or guardians). Only emancipation confers the status of maturity before a person has actually reached the age of majority.

Almost all jurisdictions automatically confer emancipation (and with it, the status of majority) upon otherwise minor individuals who are married. Some do likewise for minors who are on active duty in the armed forces.[5]

Countries and subdivisions

The following list the age of majority in countries (or administrative divisions) as appropriate:

Age 8

Age 14

Age 16

Age 17

Age 18

Age 19

Age 20

Age 21


  1. ^ a b c Age is defined or interpreted by the age of maturity in Shari'ah law. Specifically, 9 lunar years for women and 15 lunar years for men, with discretion based on physical/mental maturity. [8]
  2. ^ Iraq's Civil Code defines the age of majority as 18, however, due to the Iraqi constitution and instability [note 1] may apply as courts choose between Shari'ah law and the Civil Code


In the Catholic Church, the age of majority is 18 years.[79] In Judaism, after a Bar and Bat Mitzvah at age 13, a person is considered an adult.

See also


  1. ^ David R. Senn; Richard A. Weems (2013). Manual of Forensic Odontology. CRC Press. p. 212.  
  2. ^ Cornick (1995). A Practical Guide to Family Law. Cengage Learning. p. 229.  
  3. ^ "At what age can I?". Dublin: Citizens Information Board (Bord um Fhaisnéis do Shaoránaigh / BFS). Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Statutory and Judicial Emancipation of Minors in the United States, 2001–2002 analysis by law students of Northeastern University
  6. ^ a b [1] Iran HRDC Legal Commentary
  7. ^ a b The Law of Procedure Before Shari'ah Courts
  8. ^ Campbell, Christian (2007). Legal Aspects of Doing Business in the Middle East. p. 265.  
  9. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Cuba 1992". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Culture of Cuba - traditional, history, people, clothing, women, beliefs, food, customs, family, social, marriage, men, life, population, religion, rituals, Cultural name". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Interpol report on Kyrgyzstan
  12. ^ Interpol report on Uzbekistan law
  13. ^ Child Soldiers Report 2008
  14. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
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  16. ^ [2] Civil Code of the Republic of Albania
  17. ^ American Samoa Bar Association Annotated General Provisions of the Juvenile Justice
  18. ^ Interpol report on Andorra law
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  20. ^ "Children’s Rights: Australia". U.S. Library of congress. Section: Who is a Child?. 
  21. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
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  23. ^ Interpol report on Barbados
  24. ^ Interpol report on Belarus
  25. ^ Article 476 Civil code of Belgium.
  26. ^ Interpol report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
  27. ^ "clan:158" (PDF). Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  28. ^ Cambodia's Law
  29. ^ Cambodia -- Age of Consent
  30. ^ a b "Minor and dependent children".  
  31. ^ "Children's Rights: China". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Interpol report on Denmark
  35. ^ Interpol report on Djibouti (in French)
  36. ^ Code for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents
  37. ^ Civil Code of East Timor
  38. ^ "World Law Direct, Age of Majority list". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  39. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  40. ^ Indian Majority Act
  41. ^ Iraqi Civil Law: Its Sources, Substance, and Sundering
  42. ^ "Age of Majority Act, 1985". Irish Statute Book. Oireachtas. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  43. ^ a b c Chigunta, Schnurr, James-Wilson and Torres (2005). "Being "Real" about Youth Entrepreneurship in Eastern and Southern Africa: Implications for Adults, Institutions and Sector Structures". International Labour Office. p. 3, Table 1.1. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  44. ^ [3] [4] Malta Civil Code Section 157
  45. ^
  46. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  47. ^ Republic Act No. 6809, 13 December 1989, Chan Robles Law library
  48. ^ "Age of Sexual Consent - Poland". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  49. ^ "The Citizens (Natural Persons)". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  50. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  51. ^ Samoa Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act - Consolidated
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Age of Majority in Sri Lanka". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  54. ^ "Human Rights Watch, ''Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan: End Juvenile Death Penalty''". 8 October 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  55. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  56. ^ "Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation". Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  57. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  58. ^ "Ukraine - Age of Consent to Sexual Activity". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  59. ^
  60. ^ Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991
  61. ^ "Age of majority". 28 June 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  62. ^ "Age of Majority Act (Northern Ireland) 1969". 26 May 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  63. ^ "HOUSE OF KEYS OFFICIAL REPORT" 123 (14). 7 March 2006. p. 694.  
  64. ^ Age of Majority (Jersey) Law 1999
  65. ^ The Age of Majority (Alderney) Law, 2001,
  66. ^ "Age of Majority". Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  67. ^ a b "Section 26-1-1 — :: Chapter 1 – GENERAL PROVISIONS. :: Title 26 – INFANTS AND INCOMPETENTS. :: 2006 Alabama Code :: Alabama Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". 22 July 1975. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  68. ^ a b "Nebraska Age of Majority Law – Age of Majority – Minors". Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  69. ^ "Puerto Rico Emancipation Law". 
  70. ^ "". 
  71. ^ :::: 법률지식정보시스템 ::::. Retrieved on 11 April 2012.
  72. ^ Age of Majority Act 1970. Section 4.
  73. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  74. ^ Interpol report on Azerbaijan
  75. ^ Indonesian Civil Code
  76. ^ Ordonnance 62-041 du 19 septembre 1962 relative aux dispositions générales de droit interne et de droit international privé
  77. ^ "Proposal to lower the Age of Contractual Capacity from 21 years to 18 years, and the Civil Law (Amendment) Bill". Singapore:  
  78. ^ Mississippi Age of Majority Law - Age of Majority - Minors
  79. ^ Can. 97, § 1 CIC.
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