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Things You Can Do at 21 Years of Age, But Not at 18

Updated April 17, 2017

While 18 can feel like an introduction into adulthood, it may also seem that when you hit that milestone birthday, you are given nothing more than a teaser as to what being an adult is. But then you turn 21, and everything changes. There are a number of things that are acceptable and legal at 21 years of age -- that aren't allowed when you're only 18.

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This may very well be the one that every youth in America knows. At the age of 21, across all states, it becomes legal to purchase, carry and consume alcohol. Though not the highest legal drinking age in the world -- that distinction goes to certain states in India -- there are a number of countries; including China, Canada and most of Europe, where the consumption of alcohol is legal as early as 16- to 19-years-old.


In a number of states, you are not legally able to gamble until you reach the age of 21. There are different types of gambling; including lottery, casinos, charity bingo and ring pulls. While some states -- such as Iowa -- require you to be 21 for all types of gambling, other states legalise certain games of chance at age 18. Gambling is not legal in any form in Hawaii or Utah.


In the state of Mississippi you can legally apply for a marriage license without parental consent at the age of 21. If you are younger than this, you require the consent of your parents or a judge. In Ohio, if you are under the age of 21, you are required to show your birth certificate when applying for a marriage license. In most other states the legal age to apply without consent is 18, and you require only a driver's license.

Driver's License

Ninety days after your 21st birthday, your provisional driver's license expires and you are able to apply for a regular one. This means that you can have other people in the vehicle with you while you drive and the restrictions on the hours you can drive are lifted. Each state has different rules, so be sure to check the laws in your state.

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About the Author

Lindsey Salloway

Lindsey Salloway started writing professionally in 2005. She has worked for various publications including the "Calgary Sun," "Calgary Journal" and "Penticton Western News." She also completed major journalism projects for various organizations such as the Foothills Country Hospice. Salloway holds a Bachelor of Communications in journalism from Mount Royal University.

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