Do I need a booster? Car seat rules around the world

Are you planning a trip with little ones? Not sure whether they need a car seat? Penny Wort did the research on car seat guidelines abroad so you don’t have to. 

Car seat rules
Car seat rules differ by country. Picture: Alison Godfrey

When can you move your child from rear-facing to forward-facing? What age can you pop kids into a booster seat? Can they sit in the front? These questions are usually met with a blank stare, or a frantic Google, from mothers and fathers from all corners of the globe.

The rules are confusing enough in Australia, never mind staying abreast of regulations around the world. Here are the rules to follow in the most popular places overseas for families to hire a car.

Before you leave Australia, we recommend speaking to your hire car company to double check the regulations and what kinds of car seats they provide.

On arrival, inspect the condition of the car seat, paying close attention to any cracks and faults. Taking your own car seat with you from home is also an option, most airlines will allow you to travel with one per child.

UK car seat rules

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, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Kids car seats
Yes you can fit three car seats in the back. Picture: Penny Wort

Europe car seat rules

The rules vary slightly between countries. So we have included a breakdown of the most popular places to drive with kids:

Ireland

Children must use a car seat until they are 150cm in height or 36kg (whichever comes first).

You can use a rear-facing car seat in the passenger seat if the airbag is deactivated.

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

France

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height or over the age of 10 (whichever comes first).

A rear-facing car seat can be used in the passenger seat if the airbag is deactivated.

Children aged 10 or over can sit in the front without a car seat if there are no rear seats available.

Children may use a booster seat with an adult seatbelt when they are 15 – 36kg

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Spain

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height or over the age of 18 (whichever comes first).

A rear-facing car seat can be used in the passenger seat if the airbag is deactivated and the back seats are not available.

Children can use a booster seat when they are 135-150cm tall.

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Check the rules on forward facing and backward facing in each country you plan to travel to. Picture: Shutterstock

Germany

Children must use a car seat until they are 150cm in height or 12 years old (whichever comes first).

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Italy

Children must use a car seat until they are 150cm, regardless of weight or age. Children can sit in the front seat when they are taller than 150cm.

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Netherlands

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height.

Children taller than 135cm must use a seatbelt, if it masses over their neck rather than over the chest, they must use a booster seat.

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Greece

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height.

You can use a rear-facing car seat in the passenger seat if the airbag is deactivated.

Car seats approved to United Nation standard ECE Regulation 44.04, R44.03 or R129 laws are ok to use. Look for the ‘E’ Mark on the seat. More information here.

Hot tip for European travel: If your kids are old enough for booster seats this Trunki BoostApak is a child booster seat and backpack in one. It meets EU regulation 44 and would be a great solution for multiple kids in and out of taxis and hire cars. Also handy for train and tram travel.

North America and Canada car seat rules

This is a tricky one because each state and province has its own laws. You can check here and here for more information.

In general children under 4 must be in a car seat and then in a booster seat until they turn 8 years old.

Car seats must be approved to FMVSS 213 laws in the U.S. and must have the National Safety Mark in Canada.

Asia Car seat rules

Asia is the laxest continent when it comes to car seats for kids. But some nations do have rules. Here are the ones we have found. Let us know on our Facebook page if you know of any more – we will add them in. 

Singapore

Children must use a car seat until they are 135cm in height. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers and the driver. 

Malaysia

All passengers must wear a seat belt. Malaysia does not have a law at present for a child to be in a car seat or booster seat. However, it is against the law for any child under 4 to ride in the front seat of a car. 

READ MORE: 

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The Europe 2019 early bird sale fares

How to find a family hotel room in Singapore

Vanuatu resorts where kids stay free

 

 

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