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16 Things You Can Legally Do at 16 Years Old

It’s hard being a teenager, feeling like you’re on the cusp of adulthood without the rights and privileges to show for it.

While it can feel a bit overwhelming, turning 16 is actually a milestone that actually brings with it a world of exciting opportunities and newfound responsibilities. In this article, we’ll explore all the things a teen can legally do once they turn 16. It is important to note that ages vary from one state to another, so make sure to check the laws where you live. With that out of the way, let’s get started!

What Can You Do When You Turn 16?

1. Drive a Car

One of the most eagerly anticipated milestones of turning 16 is the opportunity to start learning how to drive. Many places grant teens the ability to obtain a learner’s permit or even a full driver’s license at this age, allowing them to hit the road with newfound independence.

2. Get a Job

teen at 16 years old with her first job as a fast food worker

Sixteen is a great age to start gaining work experience and financial independence. Teens can often secure part-time jobs, and in some areas 16-year-olds can even secure full-time jobs.

3. Pay Income Tax

Earning income means taking on the responsibility of paying taxes. 16-year-olds who earn money may need to file tax returns, providing them with insights into the world of finance.

4. Give Medical Consent

In certain areas, 16-year-olds have the ability to provide their own consent for specific medical treatments, granting them more control over their healthcare decisions.

5. Open a Bank Account

Opening a bank account becomes an option for many teens at 16. Many banks have a minimum age of 16 years old to open a checking account and some banks even allow parents to open student checking accounts for their teens under 16 years old! This is a great step towards financial literacy and responsibility as they learn to manage their money.

6. Get Married

Depending on where you live, 16-year-olds can get married with parental consent. In the United States, 23 states have a minimum age of 16 for marriage. Getting married at this age is relatively rare, and while it is an option, we don’t recommend it.

7. Donate Blood

a 16 year old teenager close up on arm after donating blood for the first time

While you typically have to be 17 to give blood, many states allow 16-year-olds to donate blood with parental consent! If your teen is very passionate about giving blood, this is a great way to enable them to contribute to their communities and make a positive impact.

8. Change Your Name

In certain states, 16-year-olds can legally change their names with parental approval. This may be a step taken for various personal or cultural reasons.

9. Get a Passport

Children under the age of 16 can have a “Child’s Passport”, but it must be obtained with two parents and using form DS-11. At 16, your teen can obtain their own passport, opening doors to international travel and exciting adventures.

10. Make Choices About Your Education

While it’s encouraged to continue education, some teens may choose to leave school at 16 in certain regions. This is a decision that should be carefully considered with guidance from parents and educators.

11. Become a Pilot

You can receive a student pilot certificate and fly solo once you turn 16 years old.  You can start lessons prior, but you have to be 16 to obtain the certificate.

12. Get a fishing license

If you are under the age of 16, you do not need a license to go fishing.  However, once you turn 16, you will need to get your own fishing license.

13. Volunteer

a 16 year old teenager close up on volunteer t-shirt

Many volunteer organizations have a minimum age requirement of 16 years old to volunteer. Teens can actively engage in volunteer work, supporting causes they are passionate about and making a positive impact in their communities.

14. Access to Confidential Health Services

Many places allow 16-year-olds to access certain healthcare services confidentially, such as reproductive health services or mental health counseling.

15. Operate a Snowmobile

While you can ride a snowmobile at a younger age with an adult, you must be 16 years or older to ride alone.  Many states require you to have a valid driver’s license and also pass a snowmobile safety cource

16. File for Emancipation

Teens as young as 16 can seek legal independence from their parents or guardians. While legal independence might sound exciting for many teens, this is normally a long and difficult process that is only for exceptional cases.

Final Thoughts on Turning 16

Turning 16 is a significant chapter in a teenager’s life, marked by a mix of privileges and responsibilities. It’s a time to explore newfound freedoms while making choices that will shape their future. Although you open a lot more doors when you turn 18, turning 16 is still very exciting. Especially with the freedom that comes along with driving a car!

Remember that the legal rights and responsibilities of 16-year-olds can vary greatly depending on where they live, so it’s essential to check the specific laws and regulations in your area.

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