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Car Seat Regulations

The regulations on car seats have changed:

Updated at the end of September, the law has changed regarding children using a car seat or booster seat and when a child can travel without a car seat.

Using a child car seat or booster seat:

Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle. You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight:

Height-based car seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing car seat when they’re over 15 months old.

Weight-based car seats must be rear-facing until your child weighs more than 9kg. After that the seat your child can use (and the way they must be restrained in it) depends on their weight.

Child’s weight    

Car seat

0kg to 25kg

 Rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

9kg to 18kg  

 Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield

15kg to 36kg

 Forward-facing child seat (high-backed booster seat) using a seatbelt

Over 22kg 

 Booster cushion

 

Fitting a child car seat:

You must only use a child car seat if your car’s seat belt has a diagonal strap, unless the car seat is either specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt or fitted using ISOFIX anchor points. You must also deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat and not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats.

The same rules apply for children with disabilities unless a doctor says they’re exempt on medical grounds. They can use a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint designed for their needs.

When a child can travel without a car seat:

There are some circumstances where a child can travel without a car seat:

In a licensed taxi or minicab children under 3 years of age can travel without a child’s car seat or seat belt, but only on the back seat and children aged 3 years or older can travel without a child’s car seat if they wear an adult seat belt.

Minibus or coach drivers and companies don’t have to provide child car seats. You must provide your own if you want to make sure a child has one.

Coaches

Children can travel without a car seat or seat belt, if they’re not available.

Minibuses

All children must travel in rear seats (any seats behind the driver) if a child car seat or an adult seat belt isn’t fitted.

Children aged 3 and older must:

  • use a child car seat if there’s one available in a minibus
  • use an adult seat belt if child seats are not fitted or are unsuitable

Vans

The rules for vans are the same as for cars.

If the correct child seat isn’t available, a child over 3 years of age can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

  • unexpected
  • necessary
  • over a short distance

You can’t take children under 3 in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat (except a taxi or minicab).

Children under 3 must be in a child car seat. If there’s no room for a third child seat in the back of the vehicle, the child must travel in the front seat with the correct child seat. Children over 3 years can sit in the back using an adult belt. Children under 3 must be in a child car seat. If there’s no seat belt, they can’t travel. A child over 3 can travel in a back seat without a car seat and without a seat belt if the vehicle doesn’t have one.

Remember, as a general rule, winter coats and thick layers should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. A bulky coat under a child seat harness can result in the harness being too loose to be effective in a crash.

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