Car seats on holiday – how car seat laws differ per country

We explain the legal guidelines you should follow when driving abroad with a child in a car seat

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Car seat laws can be confusing at the best of times, and when you factor in a drive abroad, it can be even more difficult to know what you can and can’t do on the road.

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The fact is, when travelling in a foreign country, you’ll have to abide by the law of that land, whether you’re driving your own car, hire car or travelling in a taxi.  This also applies to using child car seats.  The current UK law states that all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either:

  • 135cm in height or
  • 12 years in age – which ever they reach first. 

After this point, they must use an adult seat belt.

As you’d expect, car seat laws differ from country to country, so we’ve collected advice from the AA, RAC, World Health Organisation and the European Commission for Mobility and Transport Road Safety to give you the latest child car seat laws around the world.

Before you check out the different laws, we’d recommend that you double check the legislation in the specific area you’re travelling to. 

If hiring a car, you should also find out what car seats are available beforehand.  Remember to check the car seat you hire before you take it away, make sure there are no cracks or damage to the seat before driving. 

Many airlines allow you to travel with a car seat, which means you can travel with your own seat and then use it in another country, if the law permits it.  These are the car seats certified for airplane travel.  It’s also worth knowing the local laws on car seats and travelling in taxis.

Ireland


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What’s the law?

All children under 150cm in height or 36kgs (79lbs) in weight must use a car seat suitable for their height and weight approved to the UNR44 or R129 laws in the back of the car.

It is illegal to use a rearward-facing child car seat in the front 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.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129.  You can find out what law your seat has been approved to here.

What about taxis?

Taxi drivers are exempt from supplying child car seats

Good to know: You have to pay tolls for some motorways – most don’t take credit cards so make sure you’ve got some change.  Also, you shouldn’t use your horn between 11.30pm – 7am 

France

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What’s the law?

All children under 10 and less than 135cm tall must use an UNR44 or R129 approved child car seat in the back of the car.

Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to travel in the front seats of vehicles without using a car seat, unless there are no rear seats in the car.

A child between 135cm and 150cm can use a booster seat and a baby can travel in the front seat in a rearward-facing car seat, but only if the airbag is deactivated.

The driver of the vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all passengers under 18 are wearing a seat belt or appropriate restraint.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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

Good to know:  It is illegal to drive a car in France using headphones or earphones.  French motorways are operated by a variety of private companies, with most featuring tolls, but they do accept cash and card.  As the motorways are privately managed, you are not allowed to request your own assistance company to attend to you if you break down.

Portugal

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What’s the law?

All children under 12-years old and less than 135cm tall must use a UNR44 or R129 approved child car seat in the back of the car.

You can transport children under three-years old in the front seat in a child car seat as long as the airbag is deactivated. 

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, headlamp beam deflectors, warning triangle, and if you usually wear glasses or contact lenses, you must carry a spare pair with you in the car.

Spain

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What’s the law?

All children under 18-years-old or less than 135cm tall must use a UNR44 or 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 UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, have headlamp beam deflectors and a warning triangle. 

Germany 

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What’s the law?

Car seats approved to UNR44 or R129 must be used 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 UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

Yes, children are required to use car seats in taxis.

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, headlamp beam deflectors, warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Italy

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What’s the law?

Children under 150cm in height, regardless of the weight or age of the children, must use as UNR44 or R129 approved child car seat.

If a car does not have seat belts, children under 3-years old cannot be transported in the car and children under 150cm can’t travel in the front seat. 

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, headlamp beam deflectors, warning triangle and a first aid kit and a spare tyre. 

Netherlands

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What’s the law?

All children up to 135cm must use an UNR44 or R129 approved child car seat.

Children under three years must travel in the back, older kids can sit in the front or back of the car, but they must always use the correct car seat.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

If there’s no car seat present in a licenced 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 on an adult’s lap. The front passenger seat can only be used by children who are more than 135cm tall, secured with the adult seat belt. 

The exception to the above is that 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.

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors

Denmark

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What’s the law?

UNR44 or R129 approved car seats must be used until children are 135cm.  You’re 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 UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

Kids 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.

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors and a warning triangle

USA/ North America

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What’s the law?

Each state has its own child car laws and drivers must comply with the laws in each state that they are travelling through. The legal restrictions vary a lot between states, so check before you visit, here

Can I use a UK car seat?

No, must meet FMVSS 213 requirements

What about taxis?

Again, each US state has its own laws, so it’s best to check what applies to you before you travel.

Good to know: Please remember that local law does not necessarily represent best practice. We recommend that you follow the laws of the area as the minimum requirements for restraining your child while traveling

Canada

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What’s the law?

Like North America, Canada has varying regulations required for each province. The legal restrictions vary between province and territory, you can check them out here.

Can I use a UK car seat?

No. A child car seat must have the National Safety Mark.

What about taxis?

Again, each province and territory has its own laws, so it’s best to check what applies to you.

Good to know: Please remember that local law does not necessarily represent best practice. We recommend that you follow the laws of your province or territory as the minimum requirements for restraining your child while traveling.

  

Croatia

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What’s the law?                         

Children up to 5-years-old must use a car seat. If they are under 12, kids are not allowed to travel in the front seats, they must travel in the back using a booster seat or 3-point car seat belt. There is an exception for children under 2 years old who can travel in the front if they are in an appropriate rear-facing car seat, the airbag must be de-activated.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat. 

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, headlamp beam deflectors, warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Albania

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What’s the law?

Children under the age of 12 travelling in the front passenger seat must use an appropriate car seat as long as the airbag is deactivated. 

Children under the age of 4 travelling in the rear seat must also use a car seat.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam and a first aid kit

Morroco

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What’s the law?

Children under the age of 4 must use a child car seat and travel in the back of the car.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: Headlights should be used during the day as well as at night. Morocco has an extensive toll road system so make sure you have cash on you at all times.

Egypt

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What’s the law?

Child car seats aren’t required in Egypt (although we’d recommend you do use them), and children under 7 are not allowed to sit in the front seat. 

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, use your approved UNR44 or R129 car seats when travelling

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 7 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Israel

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What’s the law?

Child car seats must be used from birth to 3 years, after which a booster seat can be used until your child is 8. 

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, use your approved UNR44 or R129 car seats when travelling

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 8 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Malta

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As it’s part of the EU, children under 135cm in height, regardless of the weight or age of the children, must use as UNR44 or R129 approved child car seat when travelling in Malta.

Kids under 13 should always sit in the back of the car,

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Turkey

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What’s the law?

All children under 150cm tall or 36kgs (around 12-years-old) must use a car seat suitable for their height and weight approved to the UNR44 or R129 laws in the back of the car.

Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers under 17 are appropriately restrained in the vehicle.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

Taxi drivers are exempt from supplying child car seats

Good to know: When driving you must have 2 warning triangles, a headlamp beam a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

Norway

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What’s the law?

All children under 150cm in height or 36kgs (79lbs) in weight must use a car seat suitable for their height and weight approved to the UNR44 or R129 laws in the back of the car.

Kids under 10 years old must travel in the back of the car.

Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that all passengers under 17 are appropriately restrained in the vehicle.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

Taxi drivers are exempt from supplying child car seats

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors, a warning triangle, reflective jacket and all drivers must use dipped headlights in the daytime, in towns as well as outside built-up areas. 

South Africa

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What’s the law?

Child car seats must be used from birth to 3 years, after which a booster seat can be used until your child is 8. 

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, use your approved UNR44 or R129 car seats when travelling

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 8 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Australia

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What’s the law?

All children under 7-years-old must use a car seat suitable for their height and weight approved to the Australian standard AS/NZS 1754.

Children aged from 7-years-old but under 16-years-old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat.

A child can only sit in the front of the car if they are 7 years or older, but they must sit in an appropriate car seat with the airbag deactivated.

Can I use a UK car seat?

No, it must be approved to the Australian standard AS/NZS 1754

What about taxis?

For taxis, the rules vary across states and territories, so it’s best to check the local laws before you travel. In some states and territories, taxi drivers don’t have to provide a child car seat, but must have an anchor point so a child car seat can be fitted. In other states and territories, taxi drivers must ensure that children under 16 are properly restrained.

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors, a warning triangle, reflective jacket and a first aid kit

India


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What’s the law?

There is no legal requirement to use child car seats in India.  Back in 2013 the Indian government were due to introduce new legislation on child car seat safety, but it has yet to be introduced.  

However, there is increasing awareness on the safety of kids’ car seats with more parents choosing to use car seats every year.

Can I use a UK car seat?

As there is no law, we’d recommend you use your approved UNR44 or R129 car seats with kids up to 150cm when travelling.  

What about taxis?

Again, as there is no law, we’d recommend you use your approved UNR44 or R129 car seats with kids up to 150cm when travelling. 

Japan

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What’s the law?

Child car seats must be used from birth to 6 years.  Although it’s not a legal requirement booster seats are recommended when travelling with children under 36kg, around 12 years.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, use your approved UNR44 seat as Japanese car seats are harmonized and safety tested under EU regulations  

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available.

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean 

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What’s the law?

There are various laws depending on the country, so check before you travel.  Most Islands require children to sit in a car seat to 4-years-old.  If sitting in the front of the car in a car seat, children must face backwards with the airbag deactivated.

What about taxis?

A child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: When driving you must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit

New Zealand

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What’s the law?

All children under 7-years-old must use a car seat suitable for their height and weight approved to the New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1754, American standard FMVSS 213 or UNR44 standard.

Children aged from 7-years-old but under 14-years-old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat.

A child can only sit in the front of the car if they are 7 years or older, but they must sit in an appropriate car seat with the airbag deactivated.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, you can use your approved UNR44 car seat

What about taxis?

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

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors, a warning triangle, reflective jacket and a first aid kit

Austria

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What’s the law?

Children under 14 years old and less than 1,50m in height travelling in vehicles registered in Austria or abroad must use special seat belts adapted to their size or special child restraints, both at the front and at the rear of the vehicle.

Vehicles without such protection (e.g. two seat sports cars or lorries) may not be used at all to transport children under 14 years of age.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to R44 or R129

What about taxis?

Yes, children are required to use car seats in taxis.

Good to know: When driving you must have reflective jackets, warning triangle, first aid kit.

Greece


baby-toddler-and-child-car-seat-laws-in-europe-and-around-the-world_greece

What’s the law?

UNR44 or R129 approved car seats must be used until children are 135cm.

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 UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

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.

Good to know: When driving you must have headlamp beam deflectors and a warning triangle.

UAE


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What’s the law?

Children under the age of 4 must use a child car seat.  Children must be over 145cm tall or 10-years-old to sit in the front of the car.

Can I use a UK car seat?

Yes, as long as it’s approved to UNR44 or R129

What about taxis?

In Dubai, all taxi franchise companies and limousine services have to make child car seats available to passengers. Around the rest of the UAE, a child can travel in a taxi without a child car seat if there isn’t one available. Children under 12 must sit in the back seat.

Good to know: Headlights should be used during the day as well as at night.

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