Children's Car Seat Regulations


The law on the use of car seats for children changed on 18th September 2006. Full details of the new child car seat laws are available from the Department For Transport (see link below). Here are the main points:


1. When will the new regulations come into force?
The new regulations come into force on 18th September 2006.

2. What are the new child car seat regulations ?
Children under three years of age must use a child restraint (see below) that is appropriate for their weight (when travelling in any vehicle). Rear-facing baby seats must not be used in a seat fitted with an air-bag (unless it has been deactivated).
In vehicles with fitted seat belts, children three years of age and over (up to 135 cms/4ft 5in)  in height must use the appropriate child restraint. 

3. What is meant by "child restraints"?
"Child restraints" is the collective term in the seat belt wearing legislation for:
• baby seats - rear-facing and for children up to 13 kgs (approx age birth to 9-12 months);
• child seats - forward facing and for children 9 kgs to 18 kgs (approx 9 months to 4 years);
• booster seats - for children 15 kgs to 25 kgs (approx 4 to 6 years);
• booster cushions - for children 6 years and up.

4. Why are the rules changing?
The existing regulations were dated from 1993, since when the vast majority of cars are now fitted with both front and rear seat belts, and therefore able to fit and use child car seats.

5. Who is responsible for making sure children are properly restrained in the car?
Drivers are legally responsible for making sure that children under 14 years use seat belts or child restraints in cars, goods vehicles and mini-buses. 

6. Does that mean that I may not carry children in just a seat belt until they are over 135cm?
Correct. There are a few exemptions (see below) but parents and carers will need to think ahead about how they, or someone else, will be carrying their child.

7. Why are adult seat not suitable for older children?
Seat belts are best for people over 5ft/150 cms tall, and with an adult bone structure. Children under that age or height need child seats and boosters to put them in the right position to fully benefit from the protection offered by adult seat belts. 

8. What if I am carrying more children than I can fit car seats?
If you can only fit two car seats in the rear, a third child (three years or over) may then use an adult belt (or, if there is room, it would be safer for the third child to sit on a child seat or booster seat in the front seat).

9. Are there any exemptions ?
• Taxis - It is impracticable to expect the correct child seats or booster seats to be made available in a taxi, but under 3's can only travel unrestrained in the rear, and those over three must also travel in the rear and use the seat belts. (A child up to 4'5"/135 cms) can only travel in the front seat of a taxi if using the correct child seat/booster.
• Emergency Vehicles (such as ambulances, police cars).
• There is a special exemption for children over 3 years on an occasional journey over a short distance (e.g. unforeseen emergency, friend/relative unexpectedly picking up children from school). This does NOT apply to children under three who must always be in a car seat (except in taxis or emergeny vehicles as above) and a child over three must sit in the rear and use an adult belt.
• Vehicles not fitted with car seats (such as classic cars) can NOT carry under 3's in any circumstances, but children over 3 years may travel unrestrained in the rear or in the front if using a child seat or booster seat.

For more details please visit the Department For Transport website here:



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