Child Car Seat or Booster Seat: What the Law says

November 12th, 2015


Are you aware of the rules that apply to safeguarding children in travelling vehicles?

GOV.UK state that all children travelling in cars must be restrained in appropriate car seats dependant on their age, height and/or weight dependant on the individual seats.  It is important that all childminders are aware of the changes to legislation.

Children must use a child car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.

Only EU-approved car seats can be used in the UK.  These will have a label on the seat showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle.

Children’s car seats can be chosen based on the height or weight of the child you care for.

Height Based car seats – these are known as ‘i-Size’ seats and must be only used rear-facing until the child you care for is over 15 months old.  Only after reaching 15 months old can a child be placed forward-facing in a car seat.

It is your responsibility to check the seat to make certain it is suitable for the height of your child.

Weight Based car seats – these car seats must be rear-facing until a child weighs more than 9kg (equal to 19.8 lbs).

Once a child reaches the appropriate weight you may use a seat for a child forward-facing if you choose (dependant on the way the seat can be used and the way a child must be restrained in it) depending on their weight.

There is more than one type of car seat to choose from:

Child’s Weight                        Car Seat

0kg to 25kg                                    Rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

9kg to 18kg                                     Rear or Forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield

15kg to 36kg                                   Forward-facing child seat (High-backed booster seat) using a seatbelt

Over 22kg                                       Booster cushion

You can find information on how to choose a car seat and travel safely with children in cars at

Fitting a child car seat:

You must only use a child car seat if your car seat belt has a diagonal strap, or otherwise

  • Specifically designed for use with a lap seat belt
  • Fitted using ISOFIX anchor points

You must also:

  • Deactivate any front airbags before fitting a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat
  • Not fit a child car seat in side-facing seats

Children with disabilities   

The same rules apply for children you care for who have disabilities unless it is advised by a doctor to say that they are exempt on medical grounds.  Children can use a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint designed for their individual needs.

When can a Child travel without a car seat?

In some circumstances a child is allowed to travel without a car seat

  • When travelling in a taxi or minicab (private hire vehicles)

In a licensed taxi or minicab

  • Children under 3 years of age are allowed to travel without a child’s car seat or seat belt, they must be accompanied only on the back seat
  • Children aged 3 years and over can travel without a child’s car seat if they wear an adult seat belt

Minibuses, coaches and vans

 Minibus or coach drivers and companies are not required to provide child car seats.  As a child carer it is

your responsibility to provide your own if you want to make sure a child has one.

  • Children can travel without a car seat or seat belt, if they are not available on a coach.
  • The rules for travelling with a child in a van are the same as those for cars.

Unexpected Journeys

If a correct child seat is not available, a child aged 3 years of age can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

  • Unexpected
  • Necessary
  • Over a short distance

Please note you cannot take a child under 3 in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat (except travelling in a taxi or minicab.

No room for a third child seat

Children under 3 years of age must be in a child car seat.  If no room is available for a third child seat in the back of the vehicle, the child must travel in the front seat with the correct child seat.

Children over 3 can sit in the back using an adult belt.

Vehicles without seat belts

Children under 3 years of age must be in a child car seat.  If a seat belt is not available the child cannot travel.

A child over 3 years can travel in the back seat without a car seat and without a seat belt if the vehicle does not provide any restraints.

Remember keep your child safe at all times, check your children’s restraints on every journey!

Thanks for reading




Car seats: the law

RoSPA 2014

Department for Transport.


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