Ages of legal importance: Implications in relation to birth registration and age assessment practices

Med Sci Law. 2016 Jan;56(1):77-82. doi: 10.1177/0025802415590172. Epub 2015 Jun 21.


Assessment of age is a common procedure routinely conducted in many countries following birth date disputes, particularly following asylum claims and criminal offenses. UNICEF reports that only 65% of children in the world were registered, and the numbers of children who possess an authentic birth certificate were significantly lower than those registered. Legally important ages can be categorized into defined age ranges that vary among different countries. Recently, following an increase in the number of age-specific crimes, many countries have revised their legally important ages. This article is intended to report the most recent data on the ages of legal importance in the major countries of the world and implicate its relevance to birth registration and age assessment practices.

Keywords: Birth registration; age estimation; human identification; human rights; law.

MeSH terms

  • Age Determination by Skeleton
  • Age Determination by Teeth
  • Birth Certificates*
  • Criminal Law
  • Humans