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12 Things You Can Do When You Turn 18


In most states, turning 18 means you have reached the “age of majority” and are considered an adult in the eyes of the law. This new status unlocks many new freedoms and responsibilities. 

What Can You Do When You Turn 18?

Here are some of the things you can do when you turn 18, or otherwise reach the age of majority in your state. The age of majority is 18 in all U.S. states except for Alabama and Nebraska where it is 19, and Mississippi where it is 21.

1. Vote

At 18, you can legally cast your vote in federal, state, and local elections as long as you are a registered voter and meet applicable voting requirements. You can register to vote before you turn 18 as long as you will be 18 when you vote for the first time.

2. Serve on a jury

You can be called for jury duty when you turn 18. However, full-time students may be able to postpone their jury service until school is not in session.

3. Run for office


Depending on where you live, you might be able to run for city, county, or state office when you turn 18. For example, the minimum age to run for mayor in many U.S. cities is 18. You can also run for governor and state legislature in many states when you turn 18, including California, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Massachusetts. However, you must be at least 25 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives, at least 30 to run for the U.S. Senate, and at least 35 to run for President.

4. Get drafted

U.S. citizens and legal residents between the ages of 18 and 25 who were assigned male at birth are required to register with the Selective Service System. This registration is used to keep an updated database of potential service members in case a draft is reintroduced. While both males and females can voluntarily enlist in the U.S. military at 17 with parental consent, they can enlist without such consent at 18.

5. Take on new financial responsibilities


When you turn 18 (or reach the age of majority in your state), you can legally enter contracts, such as those required to take on debt and other financial responsibilities. These financial responsibilities include:
  • Opening a bank account and getting a credit card in your own name. In addition to being able to open a bank account in your own name, when you reach the age of majority in your state you are also eligible to get a credit card in your own name. Before getting a credit card, it’s important to make sure that you understand how credit cards work and the importance of making at least the minimum monthly payment on-time each month.
  • Taking out a bank loan. In most states, when you turn 18 you are legally able to obtain a loan. Keep in mind, however, that there is no minimum age to obtain a federal student loan. These loans are based on your financial need, as determined from the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Taking control of a custodial bank account. If you have a custodial bank account with a parent or guardian, you may be able to take control of the account when you turn 18, depending on how the account was set up and the laws in your state. Once you legally have control of the account, your parents will no longer receive account statements, and you can use the funds in the account however you choose.
  • Being held financially liable. In addition to the rights and benefits conferred on you when you reach the age of majority in your state, you can be sued and held financially responsible for your actions.

6. Change your name

Each state has its own laws and processes for legally changing your name, but they all require that you are 18 (or have reached the age of majority) before you may begin the process.

7. Make your own healthcare decisions


Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), once you turn 18, you have the right to make your own healthcare and medical decisions without your parents’ knowledge or approval — even if you are covered under their health insurance plan or they pay your medical bills. This means that your parents no longer have the right to see your medical records or be consulted with respect to your healthcare and treatment options unless you provide consent.

You can provide your consent by signing a HIPAA release. Many students sign a HIPAA release form before they go off to college along with a Durable Power of Attorney, which allows your parents or another designated party to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Depending on your healthcare provider, other changes might occur when you turn 18. For example, medical bills may be addressed to you and not your parents. If you were seeing a pediatrician, you may need to change to a doctor in adult medicine. Check with your healthcare provider to find out what changes you can expect when you turn 18.

8. Control access to your educational information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. This means that once you are in college, your parents won’t have access to information about your academic performance and grades, any disciplinary actions taken against you, or information about your health or well-being. If you want your parents to have access to this information, you must provide your consent by completing a FERPA release form.

9. Get married

In all states except for Nebraska and Mississippi, you can get married when you turn 18 without a parent’s or guardian’s consent. In Nebraska you must be 19 and in Mississippi you must be 21.

10. Move out


At 18, you are free to move out of your parents’ or guardians’ house and live on your own. Since you are legally permitted to enter a contract when you turn 18 or reach the age of majority (see below), you can rent an apartment in your own name – or even purchase a home.

11. Sign a contract

Once you reach the age of majority in your state, you can enter legally binding contracts, such as employment agreements, partnership agreements, non-disclosure agreements and lease agreements. You can also sign indemnity agreements (also known as liability waivers), which are usually required to participate in dangerous or potentially life-threatening activities, such as sky diving, downhill skiing, and bungee jumping.

12. Buy a lottery ticket

In most states, you must be at least 18 to a purchase lottery ticket and claim the earnings. Who knows, you could end up like Shane Missler, who at 18, won a $451 million Mega Millions jackpot in January 2018. Talk about financial independence!


It’s normal to feel both excited and terrified about turning 18. Try to remember that, while you will take on new responsibilities at this age, you will also gain freedom and independence. Becoming an adult is a gradual evolution, not something that happens magically on the morning of your 18th birthday. Good luck on becoming a legal adult, and we hope that you embrace the many opportunities that lie ahead!




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