Car seat laws help parents like you to make the right choices to keep children safe in the car. They cover essentials like what type of car seat your child should travel in and at what age. If you don't follow the appropriate child car seat rules, you put your child's safety at risk and you could be fined.
What law applies in my country?
Child car seat laws vary from country to country. For example, in Spain, children cannot travel sitting in the front seat until they are 12 years old. In the UK, children over 12 years old or 135 cm no longer need to use a car seat. In other European countries, including Ireland and Germany, children must use a car seat until they are at least 150 cm tall or age 12 years old. If you’re in the USA, you'll also discover that different states have different car seat rules.
To be sure you are getting it right, you should always check the road safety rules of the country you live in or are visiting. A quick search online should find the answers you need, but make sure you use a trusted, official source.
What type of car seat do I need?
There are two car seat standards that you need to be aware of to meet car seat legislation across Europe: R44 and R129/i-Size. Children up to the age of 12 years old or under a set height should always travel in a car seat that meets one of these approved standards. Remember, it's the driver of the vehicle who is responsible for making sure that the car seat is appropriate for the child's age or size.
R44 car seat regulations
ECE R44/04 is an international standard that is recognised in over 100 countries around the world. Car seats are divided into groups according to the weight of your child:
- Group 0+ (birth to 13 kg)
- Group 1 (9 to 18 kg)
- Group 2/3 (15 to 36 kg)
You need to make sure your child is travelling in the R44 car seat that is appropriate for their weight.
R129/i-Size car seat regulations
i-Size is a newer standard that has been introduced to improve child safety on the move. Choosing the correct seat for your child is based on their height, making it easier for parents to get it right. i-Size car seats have also undergone more thorough testing than the older R44 car seats and offer improved head and neck protection. This gives parents even more peace of mind that they are the safest choice.
Car seat guide: should I choose an i-Size car seat or one that meets R44/04 standards?
Currently, you can choose to put your child in an i-Size or an R44 approved car seat. However, R44/04 car seats are likely to be phased out in the future and i-Size will become the standard. If you're not sure which car seat is right for you, read our article on R44 v R129/i-Size.