From working to voting: What are the legal age minimums for life in Czechia?

International Children's Day on June 1 is an occasion to take a look at how legal ages vary in Czechia and around the world.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 31.05.2024 16:44:00 (updated on 11.06.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

As International Children’s Day approaches on June 1, what are the age limits that govern the lives of young people in the Czech Republic, and how does the country balance the protection of children with granting them autonomy compared to other countries around the world?

Compared to other nations, the Czech Republic’s age limits, such as the legal age for voting or drinking, are primarily in line with European standards. But when can children enter the labor force, serve in the military, or drive a car? Find the answers here.

Age of consent

In Europe, the ages of consent – meaning the age from which one is deemed able to consent to have sex with someone of consenting age or above – range from 14 and 18.

In the Czech Republic, the age of consent is 15. In Germany and Italy, the age of consent is 14, while in the UK and several other countries, it is 16. In Cyprus and Ireland it is 17, while Turkey and Vatican City have the highest age of consent at 18.

Voting age

The voting age in the Czech Republic is 18, the standard across most democracies, including the U.S., Canada, and much of Europe, reflecting a global consensus on when individuals are considered mature enough to participate in the electoral process. In recent years, Czechia has discussed the possibility of lowering the voting age to 16 for municipal elections to get younger people more interested in civic duties.

Working age

In Czechia young people can venture into the world of work under specific circumstances. Before age 15, their employment opportunities are limited, usually restricted to sports or artistic pursuits. Those aged 15 to 18 can start formal employment without parental consent.

Labor laws are in place to protect young workers, limiting their hours. This aligns with many EU countries, where the minimum working age generally ranges from 14 to 16, with protections to ensure well-being is prioritized. The youngest legal working age in the world? Bolivia at 10.

Driving age

Previously Czechs were able to obtain a driver’s license at 18, which is standard across the EU. But in 2023, the country signed into law a lowering of the legal driving age, making drivers eligible to obtain a license at 17 under the guidance of a qualified mentor. Additionally, the amendment introduced the concept of test driving licenses. (Fun fact: In biking-loving Czechia, you're allowed to hit the road on two wheels from the age of 10)!

Age of criminal responsibility

Juveniles aged 15 to 18 are criminally liable and can be prosecuted for offenses. Children under 15 cannot be prosecuted for crimes but may face corrective measures from a juvenile court, like educational programs or supervision. However, the Children’s Rights Observatory worryingly noted in 2021 that, in Czechia, young offenders “can be placed, even for petty offenses, in institutional care for ‘protective treatment’ before legal proceedings and without the procedural guarantees associated with the standard.”

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 92m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 92m2

U Zvonařky, Praha 2 - Vinohrady

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 80m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 80m2

Teplická, Praha 9 - Střížkov

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 41m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 41m2

Chvalovka, Brno - Žebětín

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 19m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 19m2

Čelakovského sady, Praha 2 - Vinohrady

Drinking age

The legal drinking age in the Czech Republic is 18 years old, similar to most European countries. In contrast, the U.S. sets the legal drinking age at 21, one of the highest in the world, reflecting differing cultural attitudes toward alcohol consumption.

Smoking

People in Czechia may buy and sell cigarettes (both traditional and electronic) only from the age of 18 (raised from 16 in 1998). However, no consumption laws apply. Countries such as Germany, Portugal, and Hungary also have minimum-age laws for purchase (18), but ban minors from smoking tobacco, too. Just last year, Czechia banned the sale of nicotine pouches to under-18 year olds and banned flavored tobacco sales to minors.

Marriage age/civil partnership

The legal minimum age of marriage is 18. However, according to the Czech Civil Code, the court may allow the marriage of a person aged 16-18 in exceptional circumstances. The 'Girls Not Brides' project notes that the the law does not specify what is considered exceptional, nor does it criminalize child-early and forced marriages. Still legal, consent is a fundamental component of a valid marriage, and a marriage is considered forced if physical violence is used.

Military service age

The minimum age to join the army in the Czech Republic is 18, aligning with international norms and the guidelines set by the United Nations on child soldiers. Military service in the country is voluntary, with compulsory military service ending in 2004.

When can a child be left home alone in the Czech Republic?

The legality of leaving children home alone depends on their age and the circumstances. According to the Endangered Children’s Fund, the Criminal Code recognizes child abandonment as a crime if a young child, unable to seek help, suffers harm or death. While younger children (around six or seven) shouldn’t be left alone, a 14-year-old, for instance, may be left alone unless negligence is involved, especially if the child is ill.

Age of medical consent

In the Czech Republic, the legal age for medical consent is not strictly defined by a fixed age but by the child's mental and voluntary maturity. If a doctor determines that a minor can understand and consent to treatment, their consent is considered valid, similar to an adult's. Parental consent is required for minors deemed not competent.

Compulsory schooling age

Mandatory school attendance lasts for nine years until the pupil turns 17 at the end of the school year. Individuals who have completed nine years of mandatory education but have not achieved basic education may acquire it through relevant courses.

more age minimums

  • Opening a bank account: Parents or legal representatives can open bank accounts for children immediately after birth. Individuals must be 18 to open an account independently.
  • Writing a will: The minimum age is 15. Those aged 15-17 must write their will as a public document at a notary.
  • Social media use: Minimum age is 13, per the Czech adaptation of the EU's GDPR, which mandates a minimum age of 16 for the processing of personal data, with states allowed to lower it as Czechia has done.
  • Gambling: The legal age is 18 for betting shops, online gambling, and casino entry.
Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more