When can children go shopping on their own?

law and law

A seven-year-old can buy ice cream without parental consent. This regulates the legal capacity and pocket money clause. When is it permissible to buy things online only? An overview of legal eligibility and purchases requiring parental consent.

Types of Trade Capacity

In order to protect minors from the risks of legal and commercial transactions, there is legal capacity in Germany. This applies only to the whole of a certain age. Therefore, parents must know what options are available to children before the law and which are not available to them.

  • Full legal capacity: Young people over the age of 18 have full legal capacity. This means that they are allowed to enter into any type of online and offline sales contract without their parents’ permission.
  • limited specialization: Children between the ages of 7 and 18 have limited legal capacity. In order to purchase products on their own or order them online, they need the consent of their legal guardians or parents.
  • helpless: Children under the age of seven and people with a mental disability or mental disorder are legally incapacitated. You may not conduct commercial transactions or make purchases.

When can children go shopping?

According to the legal definition, children from the age of seven can go shopping on their own. The so-called pocket money clause even regulates that children from the age of seven can buy many things freely with their pocket money. At the age of eight, a child can, for example, buy a magazine or sweets with his own pocket money, even if his parents are not there or they do not like it. The retailer does not have to redeem these items paid for in cash, but it can do so. Because the law states that a child up to the age of 18 can decide for himself what goods to buy with pocket money. The only condition is that the goods must be paid for in cash.

“A contract concluded by a minor without the consent of the legal representative is considered effective from the beginning if the minor performs the contractual performance by the means available to him for this purpose or at his free disposal by the representative or, with the consent of a third party is.”

§ 110 BGB

Pocket money section: what children are allowed to buy on their own

However, this does not mean that a child of 9 or 14 years old can buy anything he wants. First of all, the child can buy everything that he can pay for in cash from the monthly pocket money. But what is not possible: If a child has been saving pocket money for a few months, for example to buy a game console or smartphone for more than 200 euros from Media Markt or another electronics retailer, parental consent is required. If they then say they have not given their consent, the retailer must take the game back and refund them.

For the following products and cases, children under the age of 18 require parental consent:

  • mobile phone contracts
  • All types of subscriptions
  • Installment Purchases
  • Bigger Purchases
  • Expensive jewelry or toys
  • Any kind of electronic devices such as TV, hi-fi system, smartphone, laptop, etc.

If your child between the ages of 7-17 made this purchase, it will be “invalid pending” as long as you do not consent to it. If your consent is not applied, the contract is void and must be canceled by the provider.

Parents decide for themselves whether the amount of pocket money is appropriate or not. The expense table is a recommendation of how much money children can handle at any age. But this varies greatly from child to child. The child is not entitled to pocket money.

Online purchases: Parents need to know

There is a significant risk that retailers will abuse the limited legal capacity of children to trade online. Because they often don’t verify a person’s age when they sign up for an online store or download an app. So any kid with internet access can also buy something online if they already have their own email address to sign up with. However, the same rules apply online as in brick-and-mortar retail: Your underage child can download music or make in-app purchases as part of their pocket money.

But you as parents have to agree to this, or you can also decline afterwards. As long as you have not given your consent, the contract here too is “Invalid Pending”. If you do not agree, the provider cannot ask for money. It is therefore important that your child obtains your consent before clicking the ‘Order with Pay Commitment’ button in online retail. If it doesn’t and the bill arrives, you don’t have to pay it.

Katia Nauk

Enlighten your child!

Basically, you usually need an email address and payment details to make an online purchase. Therefore, children can only take action online if you give them that information or know how to get that information. Even if your minor child has your credit card details and email address and requests something without your knowledge, you can undo it afterwards. Ultimately, as parents, we are responsible for educating our children about the dangers of the Internet and only allowing them access to online trading if they know what they are doing and what a paid purchase is. A kid who buys ice cream or cola at the age of eight without consent is definitely not the problem. But once it deals with a device connected to the internet, you should check exactly what it can do with it and what data is stored there that could be misused.

Is your child still not getting pocket money? We’ll help you with some tips for evaluating when pocket money is appropriate and what your child can learn from it.

School Kid Quiz: Do you know your child’s grade in elementary school?

Source: Laws on the Internet, Internet ABC, BPB, Juraforum

Image Credit: Getty Images / Zinkevych

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