When it comes to adulthood, turning 18 is a milestone birthday that can bring about meaningful change. Becoming 18 years old is a rite of passage that comes with many new legal rights and responsibilities, giving you a newfound sense of freedom and independence. While this age can be exciting and full of new experiences, it’s important to understand all the changes that happen once you turn 18.
Whether you’re excited about being an adult in the eyes of the law or just want to know what to expect, there are several things you can do at 18. Some teens will want to join the military or vote in the next election, while others may want to get a tattoo, buy fireworks, change their name, rent an apartment or get a full-time job. What you can legally do when you turn 18 also depends on the state you live in since you can run for public office in California, Texas and Massachusetts but not in Florida or Illinois. With so much stuff to consider, it can be a challenge keeping track of all the stuff 18-year-olds can do.
To inspire you with ideas, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do when you turn 18. From drinking internationally to buying and selling real estate, explore what to do at 18 to learn about cool activities and unique experiences as well as your rights and responsibilities under the law.
- 1 What Can You Do At 18 Legally?
- 1.1 Buy An Alcoholic Drink Internationally
- 1.2 Get A Tattoo or Body Piercing
- 1.3 Create A Will
- 1.4 Buy A Pet
- 1.5 Buy Fireworks
- 1.6 Sign A Contract
- 1.7 Vote
- 1.8 Buy A Lottery Ticket
- 1.9 Change Your Birth Name
- 1.10 Open An Investment Account and Start Investing
- 1.11 Join The Military
- 1.12 Buy A Car
- 1.13 Rent An Apartment
- 1.14 Register For The Selective Service
- 1.15 Become A Real Estate Agent
- 1.16 Enter An Adults-Only Store
- 1.17 Skydive
- 1.18 Buy and Use Tobacco Products
- 1.19 Work In A Bar and Serve Drinks
- 1.20 Sign Yourself Out of High School
- 1.21 Get Summoned For Jury Duty
- 1.22 Open A Bank Account
- 1.23 Have Sex Legally with Someone Over 18
- 1.24 Get Married Without Parental Permission
- 1.25 Run For State Office (In Most States)
- 1.26 Be Tried As An Adult For A Crime You Commit
- 1.27 Get A 10 Year Passport
- 1.28 Drive Late At Night
- 1.29 Buy Real Estate
- 1.30 Apply For A Mortgage
- 1.31 Become An Uber or Lyft Driver
- 1.32 Apply For A License To Drive A Commercial Truck
- 1.33 Go To The Emergency Room and Get Treatment
- 1.34 Work Full Time
- 1.35 Register To Donate Blood
- 1.36 Become A Notary Public
- 1.37 Book A Hotel Room
- 1.38 Apply For Credit Cards
- 1.39 File A Lawsuit
- 1.40 Adopt A Child
- 1.41 Get A Costco Card
- 1.42 Pawn Your Property
- 1.43 Rent An Airbnb
- 1.44 Buy Spray Paint
- 1.45 Move Out of Your Parents’ Home
- 1.46 Bet On A Horse Race
- 1.47 Buy Cough Suppressants
- 1.48 Rent A Ride-Sharing Scooter
- 1.49 Give Consent and Get Vaccinated
- 1.50 Apply To Find Your Biological Parents If You Are Adopted
What Can You Do At 18 Legally?
Buy An Alcoholic Drink Internationally
While you still can’t legally drink in the United States, you can buy an alcoholic beverage internationally to celebrate becoming an adult. Although teenagers are prohibited from drinking alcohol in America, the minimum legal drinking age in most European countries is 18. Some countries around the world will even allow kids to start drinking at 16. If you’re excited to travel abroad for your birthday, grab your closest friends and book an international trip. While you enjoy the food, culture and sights, you can responsibly have some alcohol at local bars and clubs.
Get A Tattoo or Body Piercing
Getting a tattoo or body piercing is a great way to show off your unique style and personality. Once you turn 18, you no longer need your parents’ permission nor presence to get inked and pierced.
Create A Will
It may seem premature, but creating a will is one of the most forward-thinking things you can do as a young adult. A will gives you a good idea of what assets you currently possess and lets you assign them accordingly in case the worst happens.
Buy A Pet
Having a pet is a big responsibility, but if you’re up for the task you can get one without the help of your parents or guardian. Be aware that you may not get approved by shelters or buyers due to your age or personal circumstances.
Whether you’re celebrating July Fourth or a special occasion, you can buy fireworks and light them without supervision at 18 years old. If you stay safe and responsible, a set of fireworks is sure to add a touch of fun to any house party.
Sign A Contract
You can legally sign a contract at 18 without a co-signer or guardian. Due to the level of responsibility and potential liability attached to contracts, always read the fine print and consult an expert if you are unsure of any terms.
Let your voice be heard when you turn 18 by casting a vote, a legal right provided to adults with the 26th amendment to the Constitution. Many young people don’t feel as though their vote makes a difference, but you may just change the course of history in the next presidential election with your visit to a polling booth.
Buy A Lottery Ticket
Many teens will buy a lottery ticket at 18 just to have the experience and say they’ve done it. Gambling and scratch cards can lead you down a difficult path, but they’re exciting things to try out when you first become an adult.
Change Your Birth Name
If you’ve hated your name since you were old enough to pronounce it, then you may want to investigate legally changing your birth name. To get started, head to the civil court and file a petition to change your name to one that truly represents you. This decision may upset your parents, so think carefully before starting this process.
Open An Investment Account and Start Investing
Most teens should open an investment account and start learning how to save and invest their money at 18. Developing good financial habits is important to living a comfortable and happy life. A Roth IRA can be a great investment tool to help you save for retirement.
Join The Military
Show your patriotic side by joining the military at 18. Although it offers many rewards, life in the military isn’t easy and you should make sure you’re ready for the risk associated with this important role before enlisting.
Buy A Car
You can learn to drive when you are 16, but you can’t own a vehicle until you become an adult. On your 18th birthday, you can pick out a vehicle and take out a lease in your name. Remember that this means you’ll also be liable for all debts and costs associated with upkeep and taxes.
Rent An Apartment
If you’ve always wanted a space to call your own, you can move out and rent an apartment. The freedom and independence that come with apartment living are awesome, but always be respectful of neighbors and don’t fall behind on payments!
Register For The Selective Service
All men in the United States are required by law to register for the Selective Service System within 30 days of turning 18 years old. This is mandatory for males, meaning you can face a hefty fine or jail time if you refuse to do so.
Become A Real Estate Agent
If you have always pictured yourself selling expensive properties in Beverly Hills, you can now become a real estate agent and make those dreams a reality. Becoming an expert in anything starts with a single step, so don’t be afraid to invest in your future.
Enter An Adults-Only Store
Take advantage of your newfound adulthood by entering an adults-only store. Whether you purchase anything or not, an adult-only store should open your eyes to a whole new world.
Reach new heights with a skydiving adventure. Thrilling and perfectly safe, a skydive gives you an adrenaline rush that you’ll never forget.
Buy and Use Tobacco Products
While not legal everywhere, most states will allow you to legally buy and use tobacco products. If you’ve always wanted to try smoking and are aware of the risks associated with tobacco, you can light up and experiment with this addictive drug at 18.
Work In A Bar and Serve Drinks
You may not be able to drink when you’re eighteen, but you can still work in a bar and serve drinks. If you want to become a mixologist or bartender down the line, now is the time to get your training hours in.
Sign Yourself Out of High School
If you’re a legal adult, all you need to do to sign yourself out of high school is head to the office and inform the secretary on duty. It’s not advisable to miss class for no reason, but if you have a can’t-miss event or important meeting on the cards, it’s worth doing.
Get Summoned For Jury Duty
Once you turn eighteen, you may be summoned for jury duty. Although the chances of being called for jury duty are low, you could soon be deciding verdicts on cases ranging from petty theft to murder.
Open A Bank Account
When you turn 18, one of the first things you should do is open a bank account to keep your funds safe and secure. You may not have much cash to play with as a young adult but having a checking and savings account with your name on it gives you greater control over your finances. It’s important to keep track of your cash using a budget or banking app to avoid paying unnecessary overdraft fees.
Have Sex Legally with Someone Over 18
When you’re a minor, having sex with an adult is considered statutory rape and could land your partner in serious legal trouble. Once you become an adult, you can legally sleep with anyone over the age of 18.
Get Married Without Parental Permission
It’s not the best idea to marry young, but if you’ve been itching to get hitched with your high school sweetheart, you’ll be able to do so without parental approval. Whether you want a big white wedding or would rather elope to the Bahamas, it’s your call.
Run For State Office (In Most States)
In most states, you can run for state office once you reach the minimum age of candidacy. You can legally try your luck at a political career as soon as you blow out your birthday candles, but make sure you’re prepared for the mental strain that comes with running for state office before taking the plunge.
Be Tried As An Adult For A Crime You Commit
When you’re underage, you are tried as a juvenile and may not be subject to the full force of the law due to the diversion from prosecution argument. Once you become an adult, you’ll be tried under much harsher jurisdiction and may face serious jail time for any crime you commit.
Get A 10 Year Passport
You can get a 10-year passport that makes traveling a breeze. If you are a US citizen, simply fill out an application form, pay the appropriate fee and you’ll have a 10-year passport in no time.
Drive Late At Night
Whether you need to travel to a graveyard shift or just want to visit a friend’s house on the fly, driving late at night is easy once you turn eighteen. You need to be careful on the road, but you won’t face a traffic violation if you’re caught out past curfew.
Buy Real Estate
Buying real estate and owning your home is a major milestone in any adult’s life. Even if you’re not ready to buy yet, dedicate some time to scoping out your perfect property for when the time comes.
Apply For A Mortgage
You’ll have access to loans and the ability to apply for a mortgage. Just make sure you have a decent down payment and the ability to repay the loan that you’re seeking to borrow.
Become An Uber or Lyft Driver
If you’d like to make some money on the side, becoming an Uber or Lyft driver can be a great way to start a side hustle. Whether you start with a ride-sharing or taxi company, anyone over the age of eighteen can legally drive. Be aware that you’ll need a driving license with a taxi or chauffeur endorsement before hitting the road.
Apply For A License To Drive A Commercial Truck
If driving a truck is more your style, apply for a license to drive a commercial truck instead. You’ll need to pass the required tests before you start hauling, but soon enough you’ll be out on the open road earning a living.
Go To The Emergency Room and Get Treatment
There’s nothing worse than struggling with an embarrassing or serious medical event and needing your parents’ consent to receive treatment. At 18, those days will be far behind you and you can give consent to your own medical care.
Work Full Time
You’ll need to start supporting yourself once you’re an adult and you’ll now be able to work full time. Whether you’d like to gain financial independence or are saving up for an expensive purchase, full-time hours will be a huge help.
Register To Donate Blood
Registering to give blood regularly is one of the most selfless things you can do as an adult. Hospitals always need additional blood, and you’ll probably save a life or two if you make regular donations part of your adult life.
Become A Notary Public
Becoming a notary public is a great way to earn money and prevent fraud and identity theft. This position is in high demand all over the country and there’s no better way to start your journey into adulthood than with reliable employment.
Book A Hotel Room
Whether you’re checking out a concert out of state or need a quiet place to yourself while exploring a new city, you’ll be able to book a hotel room when you become an adult. Simply produce a valid card and form of ID and you’ll be good to go.
Apply For Credit Cards
Eligible Americans can apply for credit cards but will need to prove their income before being approved for credit. If you have a stable job and a good credit score, you’re more likely to be approved so make sure you maintain a strong credit history.
File A Lawsuit
If someone has wronged you and legal action is required, you can file a lawsuit without parental consent. Hiring an attorney and dealing with piles of paperwork isn’t fun, but you’ll be able to sue to your heart’s content once you turn eighteen.
Adopt A Child
Once you become an adult, you can legally adopt a child. While you’ll be able to start the adoption process, you’ll find the approval process challenging at such a young age. The adoption process can take years for anyone and there are several hoops to jump through that can take their toll on any teen.
Get A Costco Card
Buying in bulk with a Costco card is one of the best ways to save money as a young adult. Membership is available to all qualifying individuals but be aware that Costco reserves the right to refuse your membership or terminate it at any time.
Pawn Your Property
If you’re in a tough spot, you may be pleased to know that adults can legally pawn their property to make a quick buck. Because pawning involves the trade of financial assets, you must be eighteen to meet state laws. Make sure you’re pawning property you own, as you will face several questions about your item’s ownership before the pawnshop agrees to take it.
Rent An Airbnb
Being able to rent an Airbnb when you turn 18 opens a world of vacationing opportunities for you and your closest friends. Pick a place on the map and plan the trip of a lifetime with your newfound freedoms.
Buy Spray Paint
Spray paint is toxic and can cause significant damage in the wrong hands, meaning it’s legally only sold to adults. You can get creative with a can of spray paint when it comes to DIY projects but don’t engage in vandalism or cover the town with graffiti unless you want to face the wrath of your local sheriff’s department!
Move Out of Your Parents’ Home
Moving out of your parents’ home is a significant milestone that every adult will experience. Research viable apartments before moving out to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Bet On A Horse Race
Gambling isn’t a habit you should get into, but betting on horse races can be great fun if you know when to stop.
Buy Cough Suppressants
Due to the presence of dextromethorphan in most cough suppressants available over the counter, you need to be an adult to purchase them in any quantity. Being able to quell a troublesome cough without running to your parents may prove one of the best parts of being an adult.
Rent A Ride-Sharing Scooter
You can only rent a ride-sharing scooter if you’re over 18 and have a valid driver’s license. If you fit the criteria, head out with a couple of friends and take in your local area from a new perspective.
Give Consent and Get Vaccinated
You will have previously needed your parents’ permission to make important medical decisions surrounding giving consent and getting vaccinated. When you become an adult you gain full autonomy over your body, making your medical care your responsibility.
Apply To Find Your Biological Parents If You Are Adopted
When an adopted child becomes an adult, they have the right to apply to find their biological parents. You need to be 18 before you’ll be allowed to gain access to your adoption records and the procedures for this aren’t the same for all states. Therefore, it’s wise to do your research and enlist the help of your adoptive parents to ensure this process goes smoothly.