UK Child Seat Laws - What Every Parent Should Know

Car Seat - MAT Foundry

The legislation governing child car seats and their use has changed for 2017, so to make sure you are following the correct safety laws we have come up with a guide to help you.

THE LAW                  

Children must use a child car seat until they are either 12 years old or 135cm / 4’5” tall, whichever comes first.

Children over 12 years old or taller than 135cm / 4’5” must wear a seat belt.

The type of child seat is selected according to the child’s height or weight.

Only EU approved child car seats can be used in the UK, with labels displaying the circled ‘E’ and code R129 for height based seats and code R44/04 for weight based seats as seen below:

European Standard Child Restraint Systems Regulations - MAT Foundry



Height Based - i-Size

This is the new standard grouping for previously group 0/0+/1 seats – see the table below for a list of groups and limits.

They will exist alongside the code R44/04 for weight based seats and set more advanced safety standards:

Better protected against side impacts

ISOFIX only – reduces the risk of incorrect installation

Size based rather than weight as according to latest safety data

Seats must be rear facing until the child is 15 months old. The child can then use a forward facing child seat after 15 months.

Weight Based

The weight of the child dictates which seat they use and how they must be restrained within it:

Child Seat Weight Limits - MAT FoundryImage Courtesy of RoSPA

Many seats cover multiple groups as they are designed to be adjusted as the child grows, it is important to regularly check for when a child outgrows one setting and is in need of the next.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t put off replacing the child’s seat once they have outgrown it.


All of the information you need is present on the approval label if you know how to read it.

Here is a complete breakdown of each piece of information so you can ensure you are using the right seat for your children.

Combined Label and Text - MAT Foundry


It is worth following these points both at the time of installation and before each journey to ensure your child seat is correctly fitted and your child is safe:

  • Check the label and ensure your child is within the height/weight limits.
  • Ensure restraint is fitted properly in line with manufacturer instructions.
  • Allow time for the child to be comfortably strapped in.
  • If using an adult belt to secure the seat make sure it correctly sits within the slots.
  • Make sure the child seat itself is sitting tightly on the car seat.
  • Check that the adult belt buckle is not bent over or resting on the child seat frame.
  • Take all proper precautions regarding airbags – do not fit a rear facing child seat in front of an active air bag.
  • Check vehicle handbook if necessary about children and airbag safety and deactivate where needed.
  • Never tamper with a seat belt to make it fit.
  • Never fit child seats in side facing seats.

This hopefully provides you with the core information you need to make the right decisions about your child’s safety, and the safety of others.

Failure to follow the new rules jeopardises the safety of your children and any others travelling within a vehicle you are responsible for. In the UK failure to do so is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £500 if referred to court.

Investing in a good quality child seat and correctly fitting it is crucial to the safety of your children and should not be skimped on or ignored – thinking it isn’t worth it because you won’t be involved in a collision is not only short sighted, but indefensible in court.

Always remember, it doesn’t always matter how good a driver you are, it matters how good the other driver is - would you trust them with the safety of your child?


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