The age of majority is a legal term used to delineate the age at which a minor is no longer considered such. Instead, for all intents and purposes, when a person passes this age, he or she is treated as an adult with adult responsibilities. At this age, the legal control of his or her parents or guardians ceases.
This age is a legal distinction, and differs based on where a person lives. Depending on the country where one lives, the age of majority may be set by the federal government of the country or it may be set by a jurisdictional government, such as a state or provincial government. In many places, the age is 18.
Since age of majority is a legal term, it does not reflect the mental or physical maturity of the person being described. For instance, there are a few countries that bestow adult responsibilities at an age still considered to be children in the rest of the world. Iran is one such example, where nine is used for girls and 15 for boys. Even when a person reaches this age, there still may be further age-based restrictions for particular activities.
Many activities have age restrictions affiliated with them, which may or may not be the same as the age of majority. These actions are deemed to have an age of license under the law and should not be confused with the age of majority. Examples of actions that have an age of license include voting, being able to purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco, driving a motor vehicle, leaving school and entering into legally binding contracts.
Emancipation can be conferred onto most individuals if they are married below the age of majority, and in some cases, if they are part of the military. Children can go through a court procedure to be legally emancipated from their parents, so that they take full responsibility for themselves. In most instances, the youngest age where a child can do this is 14. When children are emancipated from their parents or guardians, they are treated legally as if they have reached adult age.