The common carp Cyprinus carpio is one of the most widely-distributed freshwater fishes in the world. Due to its value for conservation and fisheries in several native/translocated areas of distribution and its detrimental effects on the aquatic ecosystem in most invasive areas, robust age-based population dynamics models are required for successful management of this species. The present study provides a global review of age determination in carp, including a historical account of ageing methods, an assessment of the relative utility of ageing structures, and an evaluation of precision and accuracy (i.e. validation) of age estimates. Historically, scales were by far the most widely-employed structure, followed by the operculum, otolith, dorsal spine, vertebra and fin ray. However, in countries where carp is categorised as ‘high risk’ of impact, use of alternative structures to the scale was predominant. Causal criteria analysis showed scales and opercula to provide inconsistent evidence for successful annulus identification/counting, whereas consistent evidence was found for otoliths, dorsal spines, vertebrae and (pectoral) fin rays. Precision was always above reference thresholds for scales, whereas for otoliths, dorsal spines and fin rays was in several cases below. Accuracy was addressed sporadically and mostly in high-risk countries. It is suggested that dorsal spines or pectoral fin rays should be used in lieu of scales as non-lethal ageing structures, and otoliths (or vertebrae, pending more research) otherwise, and that validation should always be attempted as part of the set-up of more appropriate ageing protocols and use of correct terminology.