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What is the Law on Child Car Seats?

Boy in a booster seat
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The law on child car seats is very specific, and designed to offer your child the maximum possible protection. In essence the law considers that children fall into two categories, and particular conditions apply in each case:

What is the law on child car seats?

Children Under the Age of 3

If travelling in any car or van, a baby or child under the age of 3 must use a child car seat that is appropriate for his or her weight.  This applies whether they are seated in the front or rear of the vehicle.  If it is not possible to fit the seat in a vehicle in accordance with the seat manufacturer’s instructions, then it is not legal for your child to travel.

Car seats for babies up to 10-13kg, or around 9-12 months old, are rear-facing.  These types of seats must not be used in a seat that is protected by a front-deploying air bag.  Many modern vehicles allow for air bags to be deactivated.  If this is the case then these seats may be used provided you check the status of the air bag first.

The only exception to these rules is where the child is travelling with you in the rear of a taxi and you do not have a car seat with you.  In this case it is permissible for them to travel without a seatbelt.

Children Aged 3 and Over

All children who are under the height of 135cm, or under 12 years old, must still use a car seat that is appropriate for their height and weight.  It is illegal for a child to use only an adult seatbelt is they do not meet both the height and age criteria.

There are a few exceptions:

  • When the child is travelling in the rear of a taxi
  • When travelling in the rear of a roadworthy classic car that has no seat belts fitted
  • When travelling with 3 children in a vehicle that can only accommodate 2 seats in the rear of the car.  It is preferable that the tallest of the 3 children should use the adult seat belt
  • “In an expected necessity” it is acceptable to transport a child over 3 for a short distance without a car seat, but using the adult seat belt
baby in child car seat

 

Types of Car Seat

Modern car seats are designed around your child’s weight, so check this before you decide which one to buy.  The seat must show that it conforms to EU standards, and display the group number (see below) and the weight range it is designed for.

Group numbers generally follow these norms:

Group 0 and Group 0+ – rear-facing baby seats designed for infants of up to 10kg and 13kg respectively

Group 1 – forward-facing child seats for children ranging from 9kg -18kg in weight – this equates to approximately 9 months – 4 years of age

Group 2 – booster seats and cushions for children ranging from 15kg – 25kg in weight – this equates to approximately 4 – 6 years of age

Group 3 – booster seats and cushions for children ranging from 22kg – 36kg in weight – this equates to approximately 6 – 12 years of age

Many car seats and booster solutions cover the requirements of two or three of these groups, and can be adjusted as your child grows to reflect this.

 

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3 Responses to “What is the Law on Child Car Seats?”

  1. Tanya

    Thanks for this, good clarification on the subject of taxis. One thing is that you can get group 1 car seats that can be rear facing too up until the child is around 4. It is far safer to have your child rear facing as long as possible so I would use these seats. I also believe there is new legislation coming in that all infants under 15 months will need to be in rear facing car seats so it’s worth looking into this more before buying your next car seat.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Donbavand

    There are also rear facing car seats available for older children. There are isofix ones up to 18kg such as the Britax Maxfix, Joie I Anchor and Besafe Izikid. There are also seat belt fitted rear facing seats up to 25kg such as the Britax Two Way Elite or Axkid Minikid.

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  3. Laurel Rees

    The law changed in Nov 2013. Babies must be rear-facing until 15 months not 9 months as stated here (that was the rule before the law change). Please could you highlight this as so many people are still unaware.

    Reply

About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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