Child Car Seats Laws Around The World - Which? (2023)

Heading abroad for a family holiday, but unsure about the local rules on car seats? Find out all you need to know before you jet off.

UK law states that children must use a child car seat until they're 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first. But the rules and regulations for other countries can be different.

To save you time and hassle, we've compiled the child car seat rules and regulations for some of the most popular holiday destinations, with the help of international car seat experts from other consumer organisations.

And make sure you check our list of Don't Buy child car seats before you hire a seat abroad, so you don't get stuck with a seat we don't recommend.

Child car seat law by country

Rules: If you're heading to Canada, you must check the regulations required for each province. There are 10 different legislations for each province. Google 'child safety guidelines' and the name of the province for more information.

Can I use a UK car seat? No. A child car seat must have the National Safety Mark.

Rules: Children should use a child restraint seat suitable for their height and weight until they are 135cm. The seat has to be approved to UN R44 or R129.

Exceptions: You are not allowed to have a rear-facing seat in the front seat unless the airbag is deactivated. It is the responsibility of the driver that every child below the age of 15 is using the right safety equipment (car seat or seat belt depending on height), and the driver will be penalised if not.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn't one available. The child has to sit in the back seat. and if he or she is three years or older the car's seat belt has to be used.

Rules: All children under 10 and less than 135cm tall must use an UN R44/R129-approved child car seat. A child between 135cm and 150cm can use a booster seat if needed. You can transport children in the front seat in a child car seat if there is no back seat or no seat belts on the back seats, or all the back seats are taken up with car seats already or the back seats are temporarily unusable. A baby can travel on the front seat in a rearward-facing car seat, but only if the airbag is deactivated.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? No, there is no requirement to use a car seat in a taxi.

Rules: Regulations require child restraints approved to UN R44/R129 for children less than 150cm tall or younger than 12 years old, whichever comes first.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? Yes, children are required to use car seats in taxis.

Rules: All children under 150cm in height or 36kgs (79lbs) in weight must use a child-restraint system suitable for their height and weight approved to UN R44 or R129. Children can sit in the front seat as long as they are using the correct child restraint for their height and weight, but it's illegal to use a rearward-facing child car seat in a passenger seat with an active airbag. There is now a penalty for drivers who place a rearward-facing child car seat in the front where there is an active airbag. You may receive at least three penalty points on your driving licence. Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers under 17 are appropriately restrained in the vehicle. Children should always travel in the back of the car, away from active airbags and the dashboard.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi?Taxi drivers are exempt from supplying child car seats, so you don't need to use one.

Rules: All children under 150cm in height, regardless of weight or age, must use a UN R44/R129-approved child car seat. A baby can travel on the front seat in a rearward-facing car seat, but only if the airbag is deactivated.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? There is no requirement to use a car seat in a taxi.

Rules: All children up to 135cm must use an UN R44 / R129-approved child car seat.

Exceptions: If a car does not have seat belts in the back seat, children three years or older can sit in the back seat. If you want to transport three children on the back seat, but there's only room for two car seats, a child of three years or older can use the car's adult seat belt

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? If there's no car seat present in a licensed taxi (identified by the blue licence plates) children older than three years may sit in the back seat using the adult seat belt and children under three years can sit in the back seat without a seat belt. The front passenger seat can only be used by children who are more than 1.35m tall, secured with the adult seat belt.

Rules: All children under 12 years old and less than 135cm tall must use a UN R44/R129-approved child car seat. You can transport children under three years old in the front seat in a child car seat as long as the airbag is deactivated.

Exceptions: If a car does not have seat belts in the back seat, a child can go in the front seat with the correct car seat and the airbag deactivated. If you want to transport three children in the back seat, but you only have room for two car seats, the oldest child may use the car's seat belt – we'd suggest the middle seat.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? No, there is no requirement to use a car seat in a taxi.

Rules: It’s compulsory to transport children under 18 years old and less than 135cm tall in a UN R44/R129-approved car seat in the back seat of the car.

Exceptions: When a car only has two seats, or when it’s not possible to fit more car seats in the back seats, then one car seat can be installed on the front seat, as long as the air bag is deactivated. If you're caught without a car seat, the police may ask you to wait until somebody brings a car seat, or the children are transported in another car with a car seat, or a taxi. The fine is around 300 euros.

Can I use a UK car seat? Yes, as long as it's approved to R44 or R129

Is a car seat required in a taxi? Children are not required to use car seats in city areas, but if you land at an airport and your journey is out of the city centre, you'll need a car seat.

Rules: Each state has its own child seat laws and travellers must comply with the laws in each state that they are travelling through. The legal restrictions vary a lot between states.

For example: South Dakota requires child seats for children four and younger and less than 40lbs, whereas Tennessee requires child seats for those aged eight and younger and includes specifications for rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. All child seats on the market must pass the requirements (including crash tests) of FMVSS 213. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keeps an up-to-date table of all the state laws, so check here before you travel.

Can I use a UK car seat? No, must meet FMVSS 213 requirements

Is a car seat required in a taxi? In most states, taxis are exempt from car seat laws, with the exception of California.

Child Car Seats Laws Around The World - Which? (1)

How to find the UN approval label

You'll usually find the car seat approval label on the back or the bottom of the car seat. Take a look at the picture above to see what it looks like. It will either say ECE R44.04 or UN R129.

Child Car Seats Laws Around The World - Which? (2)

See which car seats did well in our crash tests in our child car seat reviews.

Car seat regulations

The car seat regulations in the table above apply to everyone driving in that country, including tourists. And while it's debatable how strictly these rules will be applied to tourists, we still think it's worth knowing them.

Now test your knowledge in our car seat laws quiz

See how much you already know and what you've picked up from reading our advice, by taking our quick quiz that tests your knowledge on car seats laws, both at home and away.

Travel car seats: bring your own or hire?

If you're hiring a car abroad for your family, you'll need to decide whether to travel with your own child car seat or pay for one from the car hire company.

We've heard some horror stories from parents about the travel car seat they've been offered by car hire companies on arrival. These range from turning up to travel and finding no baby car seat available, to having to travel with a toddler car seat that’s the incorrect size for a child.

If you can manage with the extra baggage, and are travelling within Europe, we recommend taking your own child car seat if possible rather than hiring a travel car seat. But here’s what you need to consider to help you make your decision:

Top travel car seat tips

  • If you need to pick up a car abroad, check the cost of hiring a child car seat carseat in advance. It could be cheaper to take your own.
  • Even if you have to pay extra luggage charges as a result of bringing your own car seat, it may not be that much more expensive than the travel car seat hire fee.
  • Bear in mind that car hire companies normally say the provision of car seats is subject to availability.
  • The only choice of travel car seat could be one that’s the wrong size or car seat group for your child. When you're given the car seat, make sure it's suitable for the age and weight of your child by checking the label on the back. If it's been a while since you've bought a child car seat, give yourself a refresher before you go with our car seat weight groups.
  • You might be offered a seat that isn’t in the best condition. Check the seat before you drive off to make sure that the harness isn't damaged or worn and the buckle works properly.
  • Hire a travel car seat and you might end up with an older model that doesn’t have the same safety innovations as newer models.
  • You could also end up with a Don’t Buy car seat. It could be a seat that we don’t recommend because of serious safety concerns. If you are going to hire a travel car seat, phone or email ahead to see what models of car seat are available.
  • You’re unlikely to get help fitting a travel car seat, so if you are going to hire one, make sure you make sure you have our guide to how to fit a child car seat handy.
  • In the unlikely event that it has been fitted for you, use our car seat fitting checks so you can double check and give yourself peace of mind that it has been installed properly.

Remember - even a Don't Buy car seat that's fitted correctly is better than no seat at all.

Child Car Seats Laws Around The World - Which? (3)

Should I buy a travel booster seat or bring my full-sized car seat?

When you’re looking for a portable car seat for travel, it can be tempting to go for a booster seat for an older child. They are smaller and lighter to pack than a full-sized car seat.

But our car seat experts and many others warn that these backless cushions are not the best way to transport children.

If you’re looking for a travel car seat for a toddler, we’d recommend using a high-backed booster seat for older children instead, whenever possible. The booster seats we've tested have not proved as safe in our crash tests as high-backed booster seats with a full-length back and 'wings', as these provide extra protection for the head and chest in a side-impact crash.

Any child car seat is better than no car seat at all

Whatever you choose to do following our advice, remember that any child car seat is better than no car seat at all, both for safety and to prevent you breaking the car seat laws of the country you’re travelling to.

Don’t forget the UK car seat law for taxis and Uber to the airport

Child Car Seats Laws Around The World - Which? (4)

If you're taking a taxi or an Uber to the airport in the UK, the current law states that in a licensed taxi or minicab (private hire vehicles):

  • children under three can travel without a child car seat or seat belt, but only on the back seat
  • children aged three or older can travel on a rear seat without a child car seat if they wear the adult seat belt.

If you have a child under three, some experts feel the best option is to sit the child next to you on their own seat (if they are able to) rather than holding them on your lap, which isn't safe. In a serious crash, an adult's arms would not be able to hold on to a child, and your body weight could crush them.

Our advice is to call the taxi company in advance or check before you book an Uber. See whether it has an appropriate car seat available to use, or check to see if you can use your own (if taking it with you on holiday).

For young babies, where it's not possible to sit them on the seat and a car seat isn't an option, it may be possible to keep them in their pushchair in the back of a black London taxi (Hackney carriage).

Booster seats - are you breaking the law?If you absolutely have to use a booster seat, read our guide for top tips on the best way to use one in a taxi.

FAQs

Child car seats laws around the world? ›

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height or 12 years old (whichever comes first). Children under 15 months must be in a rear-facing car seat. Children may use a high-backed booster seat when they are 15kg or four years old. Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.

Is baby car seat mandatory in Europe? ›

Yes, under EU law, all children must travel in an appropriate car seat (child restraint system) when travelling on the roads in any EU country.

Are booster seats legal in Europe? ›

A child up to three years of age must use an appropriate child restraint. A child under 12 years of age and less than 1.5m tall must use either an appropriate restraint or a booster seat. Children under 12 years of age cannot travel as a front or rear seat passenger unless using an appropriate child restraint.

Are car seats required in all countries? ›

According to a 2018 World Health Organization report on road safety, only 84 countries have any federal or national law requiring child restraints. “It's getting better, but for a lot of my family in Hong Kong, the concept of a car seat is weird to them.

Does Russia have car seat laws? ›

The Russian police now heavily enforce traffic laws, he says, for everything from not buckling up to carrying a young child without a car seat.

Is child seat mandatory in Germany? ›

Children must be at least 12 years old or 150 cm tall to sit in the front seat and/or use a regular seatbelt. Children under the age of 12 or 150 cm, must use an approved child seat. Otherwise, you may be fined up to 60 €.

Are US car seats legal in Germany? ›

German law since 1993 states that passengers younger than 12 years of age and less than 150 centimeters (4 feet 11 inches) tall must be in a child restraint system. Passengers older than 12 or above the legal height must use the car's seat belt system.

Does a 10 year old need a car seat in France? ›

Seatbelt rules

All children up to the age of 10 must travel in a car seat or restraint. The use of car seats is determined by weight: Under 10kg: Rear-facing seat in the front passenger seat (with passenger airbag deactivated) or back seats. 10 - 13kg: The same conditions as above apply.

Are US car seats legal in UK? ›

Only an EU-approved car seat can be used in the UK. Child car seats approved outside of the EU (the US for example) can't be used in the UK, and EU-approved car seats can't be used in other countries, such as the US.

Are booster seats legal in Spain? ›

Children under the age of 12, or older children which stand less than 5 feet in height, are legally required to sit in the back seat while you are driving in Spain. Booster seats and child seats are mandatory for children riding in the back up to age 12, granted height and weight restrictions do apply.

Do they use car seats in Afghanistan? ›

What car seat do you need in Afghanistan?
...
Afghanistan.
National Child Restraint Law:
Front Seat Restrictions:No restrictions
Required in Taxi:No
2 more rows

Do children use car seats in Mexico? ›

There are no mandatory laws for the use of child car seats in Mexico. However, if you plan to ride in a car with a child under the age of 5, you should always use a car seat for safety.

Do you need a car seat in Egypt? ›

Each adult can accompany up to 2 infants but one of them must be in a seat. Older children require their own seats. Carrycots can be reserved in advance and car seats are allowed onboard for no extra fees.

Is child seat mandatory in Turkey? ›

Child seats in vehicles became mandatory in Turkey from the year 2010. Not only in one's private cars, even while travelling in taxis, rental cars or public buses, it is compulsory for the kids to be seated in child seat.

Do you need a carseat in Jamaica? ›

No laws on island require carseats for kids -- and they're rarely found and then most usually only with private drivers, not taximen.

Are car seats required in Thailand? ›

Thailand has now made the use of child car seats mandatory as part of sweeping amendments to its Road Traffic Act 1979. The new laws, which also cover road racing, are meant to bring the regulations up to date and impose stricter punishments for breaking them.

Can I use a European car seat in the US 2021? ›

Unfortunately, regulations make doing this legally almost impossible. Parents often ask about this so lets make clear what apply. A US car seat, certified FMVSS, can not be used legally in Europe. Vice versa, a European car seat, certified ECE R44, can't be used legally in US.

Are European car seats safer than American? ›

Including car seats. As with wines and cars, many caregivers think European car seat brands are better or safer than their United States counterparts. However, just as wines and cars are actually pretty equal, so are car seats. Here's a look at a few of the key differences.

Do taxis in Berlin have car seats? ›

Just go to the taxi stand and ask for a taxi with a car seat. It is the law here, so a taxi without a car seat won't let you ride with them. Many taxis will have them in the trunk or built into the back seat.

Are booster seats allowed in Germany? ›

German law requires children up to 12 years of age who are less than 1.5 metres (59 inches) to ride in an approved car seat or booster. If all other restraints are being used by other children, the child may ride in the back seat with a seat belt.

Do US cars have Isofix? ›

Isofix (styled ISOFIX) is the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. The system has other regional names including LATCH ("Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children") in the United States and LUAS ("Lower Universal Anchorage System") or Canfix in Canada.

Is baby car seat mandatory in USA? ›

Children up to their seventh birthday, regardless of weight, and all children weighing less than 60 pounds, regardless of age, to ride in a federally approved child safety seat. Children ages 7 to 12 must be properly secured in a seat belt or federally approved booster seat that fits their height and weight.

Can you use Australian car seat in UK? ›

Re: Using Australian carseats in the UK (without tethers) for a holiday? if a car seat has a tether you need to use it. In the UK they still sell both types. The tether type is called isofix plus, and most newer cars have the third point for the attachment.

Can I use my UK car seat in Canada? ›

Re: UK Child Car seats in Canada

The law says that the seats have to meet Canadian standards. It doesnt say they have to have the maple leaf logo. The maxicosi seats might already meet (or even surpass) the Canadian standards, but obviously, it's up to you to check....

Do taxis in Spain have child seats? ›

A: Some taxis do have child safety seats fitted however the majority of taxis do not. The law in Spain requires that a baby or young child be secured with a child safety seat when being transported in the car.

Do taxis in Italy have car seats? ›

Baby and child car seats are not required on Rome taxis and they are not provided either. Taxis are exempt from the rule that wants all children up to 12 years of age in an appropriate seat and will let you ride with your baby / toddler on your lap.

Is car seat required in Greece? ›

All children aged under three travelling in cars in Greece must be placed in a suitable child restraint. Children aged between three and 11 must be seated in an appropriate child restraint for their size. From the age of 12, children over 1.35m tall can wear an adult seat belt.

Is it legal to have baby seat in front? ›

Children under 3 years

It is illegal to carry a child in a rearward-facing child seat in the front if there is an active front passenger airbag. The airbag must be deactivated or the rearward-facing child seat must be placed in the rear.

What are car seat requirements in Spain? ›

Any child over the height of 135 cm (1.35 meters) does NOT require any booster or car seat! Require a minimum of a booster or booster back car seat. NO child car seat required for children over 135 cm in height!

Can I take a booster seat on Ryanair? ›

You can bring a car seat onboard for use by an infant or child as long as it is approved for aircraft use and has a 5 point harness. If you are using a car seat for an infant under 2 you will need to purchase a separate seat for them.

Are car seats required in Morocco? ›

The law in Morocco requires children car seats for all children at all ages. The safety seat should be a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat or a booster seat based on the exact age and weight of the child.

Are car seats required in Panama? ›

Children under 5 years old must be seated in a special car seat in the rear. 3rd party insurance is mandatory. Seat belts must be worn by the driver and front seat passenger. While rules of the road are often ignored, the laws can be enforced by traffic police.

Does Jordan require car seats? ›

Do I need to reserve a seat for my infant? Children up to 2 years old (24 months), are not required to have their own seat. You must, however, inform Royal Jordanian that you will be traveling with an infant on your lap. Lap children can only be held by passengers who are at least 18 years of age.

Is it safe to go to Cancun with children? ›

Cancun is a safe destination if we apply the common sense. Don't worry about hygiene issues or potential hazards, especially within the resort area or if you move around with a schedule suitable for children.

What are the car seat laws in New Mexico? ›

The law in New Mexico requires all children up to their 7th birthday, regardless of weight, and all children less than 60 pounds, regardless of age, to ride in a child safety seat. The law also states that children ages 7 to 12 must ride in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly.

Is it safe to travel to Cancun with a baby? ›

Keep your family healthy and safe in Cancun.

Of course, you should protect your baby's skin from the sun's harmful rays while in Cancun. Use a sun hat, rash guard for swimming, and a baby safe sunblock. This is especially true if you decide to visit the Chichén Itzá ruins during your visit.

Can you use Australian car seats in Europe? ›

No. Child car seats bought overseas do not comply with Australian Standards and they are not compatible with Australian vehicles. Australian vehicles have a unique top-tether strap anchorage system, with which only Australian Standard approved child car seats are compatible.

Are car seats required in Barbados? ›

The vast majority of vehicles are right hand drive. Wearing of seatbelts is compulsory in Barbados for both drivers and passengers. Children under 5 years of age must use an appropriate child seat, which can be rented from local car rental companies.

Do children need car seats in taxis in Portugal? ›

Children under the age of 3 must use an appropriate child restraint system, whether travelling on the front or the rear seat. Exemption: a child under the age of 3 may travel unrestrained in a taxi if a child restraint is not available.

Do you need car seat in Istanbul? ›

Beginning in June 2010 in Turkey, the child car seat use has become mandatory. In compliance with the laws of the European Union framework, we also new Traffic Regulation will apply from June 1st.

Do you need a car seat in a taxi in Turkey? ›

Re: Do we need a infant seat for travel in taxis in Turkey. Your baby will travel on your lap, that won't be a problem for ride(will be risk for your baby).

Does Turkey have seatbelt laws? ›

First seat belt related law, regulated intercity road front seats rules in 1986, in Turkey. In 1992, seat belt rules covered city roads. Then, back seat seat belt usage has been compulsory in 1995. 90% in 1992, with public campaigns, strict controls and education (Tolunay and Gokdeniz, 2002).

What should kids pack for Jamaica? ›

Packing list for kids for a 7-day vacation in Jamaica
  • 2-3 swimwear sets.
  • 2-3 pairs of beach or casual shorts or skirts.
  • 6+ t-shirts or casual tops – the number of shirts you'll bring can increase depending on if your child is a messy eater or if you plan on doing lots of water activities where they may get wet.
Jan 31, 2022

Is Thailand safe for toddlers? ›

Thailand is safe for babies. As safe as anywhere else, if you take the proper precautions. Thailand has some of the same risks that you will find in any country, especially in the big cities, but there is nothing especially dangerous about Thailand for toddlers or babies.

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