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Heading abroad for a family holiday, but unsure about the local rules on car seats? Find out all you need to know before you jet off.
UK law states that children must use a child car seat until they're 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first. But the rules and regulations for other countries can be different.
To save you time and hassle, we've compiled the child car seat rules and regulations for some of the most popular holiday destinations, with the help of international car seat experts from other consumer organisations.
You'll usually find the car seat approval label on the back or the bottom of the car seat. Take a look at the picture above to see what it looks like. It will either say ECE R44.04 or UN R129.
The car seat regulations in the table above apply to everyone driving in that country, including tourists. And while it's debatable how strictly these rules will be applied to tourists, we still think it's worth knowing them.
See how much you already know and what you've picked up from reading our advice, by taking our quick quiz that tests your knowledge on car seats laws, both at home and away.
If you're hiring a car abroad for your family, you'll need to decide whether to travel with your own child car seat or pay for one from the car hire company.
We've heard some horror stories from parents about the travel car seat they've been offered by car hire companies on arrival. These range from turning up to travel and finding no baby car seat available, to having to travel with a toddler car seat that’s the incorrect size for a child.
If you can manage with the extra baggage, and are travelling within Europe, we recommend taking your own child car seat if possible rather than hiring a travel car seat. But here’s what you need to consider to help you make your decision:
When you’re looking for a portable car seat for travel, it can be tempting to go for a booster seat for an older child. They are smaller and lighter to pack than a full-sized car seat.
But our car seat experts and many others warn that these backless cushions are not the best way to transport children.
If you’re looking for a travel car seat for a toddler, we’d recommend using a high-backed booster seat for older children instead, whenever possible. The booster seats we've tested have not proved as safe in our crash tests as high-backed booster seats with a full-length back and 'wings', as these provide extra protection for the head and chest in a side-impact crash.
Whatever you choose to do following our advice, remember that any child car seat is better than no car seat at all, both for safety and to prevent you breaking the car seat laws of the country you’re travelling to.
If you're taking a taxi or an Uber to the airport in the UK, the current law states that in a licensed taxi or minicab (private hire vehicles):
If you have a child under three, some experts feel the best option is to sit the child next to you on their own seat (if they are able to) rather than holding them on your lap, which isn't safe. In a serious crash, an adult's arms would not be able to hold on to a child, and your body weight could crush them.
Our advice is to call the taxi company in advance or check before you book an Uber. See whether it has an appropriate car seat available to use, or check to see if you can use your own (if taking it with you on holiday).
For young babies, where it's not possible to sit them on the seat and a car seat isn't an option, it may be possible to keep them in their pushchair in the back of a black London taxi (Hackney carriage).