There are certain requirements when using a child’s car seat in your car that must be met.
When Using A Child Car Seat Or Booster Seat
It is a requirement for children to use a car seat until they are at least 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever happens first.
In the UK, you can only use EU-approved car seats for children. These will have a label with a capital “E” in a circle.
When picking a car seat for your child, it is best to do so based on the height or weight of your child.
Car Seats Based On Height
Car seats that are based on height rather than weight are known as “i-Size” seats. These have the be rear facing until the child is at least 15 months old; after this, they can use a forward facing seat.
When purchasing a car seat, it is important to make sure the seat is suitable for the height of your child.
Car Seats Based On Weight
Until your child weigh more than 9kg, any weight based car seats must be rear facing. Once they weigh more than 9kg, what type of seat they will need next will be determined by their weight:
- 9kg or less
- Rear facing baby seat
- 9kg – 18kg
- Rear or forward facing baby seat
- 15kg – 25kg
- Rear or forward facing child seat (sometimes referred to as a booster seat)
- 22kg +
- Booster cushion
When Fitting A Child Car Seat
You can only use a child car seat if you have a car with diagonal seat belt straps. If you don’t, you will need to make sure your car seat is either:
- Designed specifically to be sued with a lap belt
- Fitted using ISOFIX anchor points
You also have to:
- Deactive any front airbags before you fit a rear facing baby seat in the front seat of your car
- Not fit a child car seat in seats that face towards the side of the vehicle
If You Have A Child with Disabilities
These same rules are applied to children who disabilities or special conditions. The only time the rules are different is if a doctor says they are exempt from them on medical grounds. If this is the case, you can use a disabled person’s seat belt or a special child resistant that has been designed to accommodate their requirements.
Are There Any Circumstances When A Child Can Travel Without A Car Seat?
There are certain circumstances when a child can travel without a car seat.
Private Hire Vehicles, Including Taxis And Minicabs
If you are travelling in a licenced taxi or minicab:
- Children under the age of 3 can travel without a car seat or seat belt as long as they are seated in the back
- Children over the age of 3 can travel without a car seat as long as they wear an adults seatbelt
Minibuses, Coaches And Vans
It is not a requirement for minibus or coach drivers to provide child car seats. If you want to make sure your child has one, you have to provide your own.
Children can travel on coaches without a car seat or seat belt if there aren’t any available. If they are available, they should be used/worn.
All children have to travel in rear seats (any seats situated behind the driver) if there is no child car seat or adult seat belt fitted.
If you are travelling with children aged 3 and above, they must:
- Use a child car seat if there is one available
- Use an adult seat belt if there is no child car seat available or it doesn’t fit or it isnt suitable.
The rules for children travelling in vans are the same as those for children travelling in cars.
What Happens If I Have To Make An Unexpected Journey?
If you find yourself having to make a journey you hadn’t planned for and the correct child seat is not available, a child that is over the age of 3 can use an adult seat belt, as long as the journey you need to make is all of these three things:
- a short distance
You are not allowed to take a child under the age of 3 in a vehicle without a seat belt or the suitable child seat (except when travelling by taxi or minicab)
What Do I Do If There Is No Room For A Third Child Seat?
If you have a child under the age of 3, they must be in a car seat. If there is no room for them to travel in the rear seats of the vehicle, they must travel in the front seat of the vehicle with the correct type of child seat.
If you have a child over the age of 3, they can sit in the back of the vehicle and use an adult seat belt.
What Should I Do If I Am Travelling In A Vehicle Without Seat Belts?
If the vehicle you are travelling in has no seat belts, children under 3 can’t travel, as they need to be in a child car seat that is properly secured.
Children over the age of 3 can travel in the back seat of a car without a car seat or seat belt if the vehicle doesn’t have one fitted.
For more information on Seatbelting requirements and rules get in touch with the DVLA’s enquiry team.