What are the Baby Car Seats Laws in the UK? [Infographic]
In the UK, no matter where you drive if you have a child on board, they’ll need to use a child car seat. For any parent or guardian, as well as holidaymakers, knowledge of child car seat law is essential not only for the safety of your child but also to make sure you are not risking a £500 fine if you are caught not using baby car seats or using unsuitable ones for the height and weight of the child.
To discover more about the baby car seats laws in the UK, simply take a look at our guide below.
In the UK, no matter where you drive if you have a child on board, they’ll need to use a child car seat. That’s until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
However, the safety watchdogs recommend extending use until the child is over 150cm tall, or 4ft 11in. It’s worth mentioning: this is the legal requirement in Ireland, Germany and France.
What is the correct child car seat?
Baby car seats, child car seats and booster seats in the UK must conform to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44/03 or ECE 44/04 (marked on a label on the seat).
Or the seat can be approved under R129 (otherwise known as i-Size). Whatever system your seat adheres to it must be suitable for the child’s weight, size and height (if buying an i-Size seat). The seat must also be fitted into the car following the manufacturer’s instructions.
In the UK, only an EU approved car seat is legal to use on the public highways. Child car seats approved in the US or Japan cannot be used legally.
Height-based child car seats
The i-Size system must be used as a rear facing unit until your child is over 15 months old. After this time the child may use a forward facing seat. Check the seat and measure your child regularly to ensure they are using the correct size of seat.
For safety reasons, the child seat that you use depends upon the child’s weight. Weight-based seats have a label showing a capital ‘E’ inside a circle and the demarcation ‘ECE R44’. This table makes clear the style of seat you should use.
0-10 kgLie flat carriers or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing carrier or rear-facing baby seat
|Child’s weight (kg)
|Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using an integrated harness
|Rear or forward facing baby seat using an integrated harness of safety shield
|Rear or forward-facing child car seat using a seatbelt, harness or safety shield (includes high-backed booster seats or booster cushions)
|Rear or forward-facing child car seat using a seatbelt, harness or safety shield (includes high-backed booster seats or booster seats)
Fitting a child car seat
A child’s car seat must only ever be fitted using a seatbelt with a diagonal strap, unless the seat is:
- Designed specifically for use with lap seatbelts, or
- Is fitted using ISOFIX anchor points
It is also mandatory to deactivate the front passenger airbag when placing a rear-facing seat in the front of the car, as a matter of safety. Also, it is not acceptable to fit child car seats in any side-facing seats.
Children with specific medical needs
Specific seating manufactured to meet the needs of disabled children are allowed in all circumstances, providing that the standards of safety are as high as reasonably attainable. In most cases, this means following the above guidelines while making the necessary reasonable adaptations.
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