Child car seat laws in the UK are designed to prioritise the safety of babies and children in vehicles. The regulations in the United Kingdom specify the type of car seat or booster seat required based on the child’s height, weight and age.
Understanding these laws is super important to help protect your children whilst driving. This guide will help provide helpful information about the UK car seat laws and help with ensuring you comply safely.
When it comes to using a child seat, these must be used until the children are either 12 years old or reach 135cm in height. Once your child reaches 12 or 135cm they must still wear a seat belt.
Child Seat Categories
In the UK, child seats are categorised into different groups, these are designed for specific age ranges and weight limits, these groups are as follows:
Baby Car Seats (Group 0 & Group 0+)
These seats are suitable for newborns and infants, typically from birth up to approx. 12-15 months. Group 0 seats are suitable for babies up to 10kg. Group 0+ child seats are designed for babies/infants up to 13kg. Both group types are rear-facing seats, this helps provide maximum protection for your childs head and neck in the event of a collision.
Child Car Seats (Group 1)
Group 1 child seats are intended for toddlers/children weighing between 9 to 18kg or 9 months to 4 years old. Whilst it is recommended to keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, they can usually be used in both front-facing and rear-facing positions.
Booster Seats (Group 2 & 3)
For older children, booster seats are available for those aged between 4 and 12 years old. Or weighing between 15-36kg. These seats elevate the child to ensure that the seat belt is properly positioned. Group 2 booster seats are for children weighing between 15 to 25kg, while Group 3 booster seats are for those weighing between 22 to 36kg.
Forward-facing vs. Rear-Facing Seats
For young children and infants it is always generally safer to use a rear-facing seat. It provides additional protection to the head, neck and spine in a vehicle collision.
Where possible try and keep them in the rear-facing position for as long as the height and weight allows, typically 15 months plus.
Also, make sure that when the rear-facing seat goes in the front passenger seat that the airbag has been de-activated, some cars require a switch some will do this automatically.
What are the fines for not complying?
Failing to follow the UK laws when it comes to child seats can result in penalties, fines and even penatly points on your driving licence. You can also receive a penalty for not using the correct child seat which can include a fixed fine of £500 and up to 3 penalty points. Always prioritise your childs safety and comply with the regulations when it comes to child seats.
Are their any exceptions to the law?
While there are laws regarding the use of child seats in the UK, there are a couple of exceptions:
In unforseen emergencies where it is not possible to use a child seat, a child over 3 years old can use an adult seat with a belt in the back seat. This needs to be a rare occurance and every effort should be made to ensure the child is safe and secure.
If you are taking a minicab or a taxi with a child under 3 years old, they are allowed to travel without a child seat or a seat belt, but they must sit in the rear of a vehicle. For children 3+, they ust wear a seat belt.
Child Seat Tips
There are some additional tips below to help you with child seats:
Purchase the right child seat
Always buy a child seat that meets the EU approved standard, this is ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R44.03) or the i-Size regulation, R1290. Make sure that the seat is suitable for your child’s height, weight and age.
Always follow the manufacturers guidelines when installing and using the child seat correctly. Ensure the seat is securely fastened with little movement. The seat should not move any more than one inch in any direction.
Buy from Halfords
We are endorsing Halfords here on this article, as they offer not only child seats but can also install the car and give you guidance on how to use it, this is particularly useful if you are new parents. Their prices are very competitive.
Regular Checks to the Seat
Always check the child seat on a regular basis for any wear and tear and ensure that all of the parts are secure. Check the harnesses to ensure they are correctly secured at the front and the rear of the child seat and in good condition. Always replace the seat if it has been involved in an accident, even if their are no signs of damage.
Never buy 2nd hand child seats
Whilst Ebay, Facebook Marketplace or Vinted seem like a good place to purchase a bargain second-hand car seat you cannot guarantee that it has not been involved in an accident.
Secure loose items in the car
If you have to stop suddenly, loose items in vehicles can become extremely dangerous. Always secure loose objects in the car to prevent them causing any halm to occupants of the vehicle.
Adults Wear Your Seatbelts
Chuldren pickup on habits from their parents and other close adults, so it is really important to always put on your seatbelt in the car to set a good example. Educate your children to spot adults travelling in your car to buckle up.
Changes to Regulations
Child seat regulations can change, but most national newspapers and automotive magazines will forewarn of any important changes to the legislation. The UK Government website can also assist when you want to update yourself of any changes to the law.
Ensuring the safety of any child should be your number 1 priority when it comes to your car, 2nd to this is having suitable fully comprehensive insurance that provides the coverage you need should the worst case scenario happen. Protect your whole family and your vehicle with the right car insurance.
Click the button below to get a car insurance quote today:
Where is the best place to purchase child seats?
As we have already mentioned above, we would highly recommend purchasing your child seat from Halfords, but there are other outlets to consider including Kiddies Kingdom and Smyths Toy Shops.
Amazon is also an excellent place to purchase your next child seat with independent reviews and super fast delivery, here are some of our favourite:
Group 0 Child Seats for Sale
Group 1 Child Seats for Sale
Group 2 Child Seats for Sale
Group 3 Child Seats for Sale
Car Subscription for Families
The car subscription providers on our website offer a fantastic range of vehicles suitable for families. All modern cars have ISOFIX as standard, so we would highly recommend purchasing a child seat with ISOFIX for easy installation.
Take a look at our latest car subscription delas below and see if there is anything you would like to see you and your family driving.
Choosing the right child seat for you and your family is extremely important for their safety, always make sure that you have chosen the correct child seat for their age, weight and height.
We would always recommend touching and feeling the actual seats before you commit to purchasing. Some cars have limited leg space behind the front driver/passenger so if you were to choose a larger seat, this may restrict space.
Our providers offer a great range of family cars on vehicle subscription, take a look at the latest deals advertised.