Child Car Seat Laws UK: Everything You Need To Know

child car seat

We all want what’s best for our children and that doesn’t stop when we get in our cars. While they might seem safe enough on their own, cars won’t protect children properly in an accident – they need a suitable child car seat. 

Recent changes in child car seat laws may have caught some parents off-guard but we’re going to cover it all. We have written this guide to the UK child car seat rules to give parents the information to keep their little ones safe and sound. Let’s get into it, shall we?

When Can A Child Stop Using A Car Seat?

child car seat

Your child might have been nagging at you claiming they are too big to be in their booster seat, but how long should a child be in a car seat? 

The law states that children no longer have to sit in a secure car seat when they reach their 12th birthday, or whenever they are taller than 135cm.

Whichever of these landmarks in your child’s life comes first is the moment they can stop sitting in a car seat. However, their safety is still your responsibility, so make sure they buckle up.

What Is The Penalty For A Child Not In A Car Seat?

car seat penalty

Drivers can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 years old isn’t following the child car seat requirements. This means they must either be in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt.

They must be in the correct seat according to their age, height, or weight. So it’s always worth knowing the law.

Children are constantly growing. So make sure you always keep track of their development concerning their car seat. For the most protection, the best child car seat is the one that suits their size and age.

Height-based seats must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. After then, they can face forward.

These seats are also known as ‘i-Size’ seats and you must ensure you check your child’s height to make sure they fit properly in their car seat.

Weight-based child car booster seats come in different types depending on how much your child weighs.

What Car Seat Should My Child Be In?

car seat

As stated above, the size of your child will typically determine the type. However, some seats can cover multiple weights.

There are four different groups of weight-based car seat:

  • 0 – 0kg to 10kg
  • 0+ – 0kg to 13kg
  • 1 – 9kg to 18kg
  • 2 – 15kg to 25 kg
  • 3 – 22kg to 36kg

Below is some more information about these car seat sizes.

0 – 0kg to 10kg

These child car seats lie flat and are rear-facing baby carriers.

0+ – 0kg to 13kg

Similar to 0 except they allow for a slightly larger child to fit inside.

1 – 9kg to 18kg

Child car seats in this group can be rear or forward-facing and they use either a harness or safety shield.

2 – 15kg to 25 kg

Often referred to as a child car booster seat these are typically a high-back booster seat.

Manufacturers no longer make booster cushions for this group but existing ones are still okay to use.

3 – 22kg to 36kg

The largest child seat option.

Rear or forward-facing and they use a harness, safety shield, or seat belt to secure children in place.

There is a deliberate overlap with these groups to give parents time to transition from one size to the other.

When Does A Child Not Need A Car Seat?

child car seat

In most cases, any child aged three or older must always be in a child seat. However, there are some exceptions.

If the child is traveling by minibus, coach, or van they don’t need to have their own car seat.

Also, if there is no room for another car seat, then your child can still travel. 

Finally, in an emergency, there is no need to find a car seat for your child as they can travel without one for such special circumstances.

Does A Child Need A Car Seat In A Taxi?

Not everyone has a car, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to own a booster seat for their child. So, what happens when they go on a trip in a taxi?

Some taxi companies will provide a child car seat for passengers, but if they don’t, your children can still travel.

In this situation, they must travel in the back seat and wear an adult seat belt if they are older than three. 

If your child is younger than three, then they must travel without wearing an adult seat belt during a taxi ride.

Buying A Child Car Seat

child car seat

Nothing beats being able to put your child in a seat to see how they measure up.

We recommend using an established retailer and avoid buying child seats online from unknown sources.

Second-hand car seats might be cheap, but you have no way of knowing their history. The seat may have already been involved in an accident and will not offer the same level of protection as a new one.

Backless Booster Seats

When buying a child car seat it’s also worth knowing that the reason the law changed recently was that many experts believed backless booster seats provided insufficient protection.

This is because if they are involved in a side-on crash, the seat belt won’t be guided across the body of a child.

Booster cushions aren’t seen to offer enough side or head protection so highback booster seats for smaller children are now a requirement.

Our Final Thoughts

child car seat

Child car seats can only be fitted if your vehicle has diagonal belt straps but there are a couple of exceptions.

You can use a seat that has been specially designed to work with a lap seat belt or a seat that has been fitted with ISOFIX anchor points.

If your child is traveling in a rear-facing seat in the front, you must disable your front airbags otherwise it may seriously harm an infant.

Furthermore, any side-facing seats found in cars are not suitable for car seats and shouldn’t be used for children.

The standard rules also apply to children with disabilities or medical conditions although they are permitted to use a seat that has been designed for their needs.

How FairSquare Can Helpfairsquare logo

We hope that you found this article helpful.

As long as you follow these rules, stick to the weight guide of your chosen car seat and buy from a reputable retailer, you can be sure that your child’s car seat will have been tested appropriately with child safety ratings and will be approved for safe use for as long as recommended. 

Don’t forget, if your car needs upgrading to a family-sized one then we’ve got you covered. 

Here at FairSquare, you can buy quality approved new and used cars to suit your needs.

We have thousands of vehicles that suit rapidly-growing families with finance options that cater to every credit score.

Also, whilst you’re here, why not check out some more of our useful guides such as Is Car Breakdown Cover Worth It? or What Is The Best Tyre Brand For Cars?

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