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Child Car Seats and Seat Belts [Hardfacts]


As of 1st March 2017 the law has been update in regard to the carriage of children travelling as passengers in motor vehicles to use an appropriate child restraint.

Why was the law amended?

The changes were introduced in response to safety concerns. The vast majority of seat belts fitted in vehicles are designed for adults not children. Children need to use child seats and booster seats to put them in the correct position so an adult belt fits properly. If not in a crash there is a risk of damage to internal organs as well as sliding out under the belt.

It is estimated that the changes could prevent over 2000 child deaths or injuries each year.

What is the new law?

Using a child car seat or booster seat

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

Children over 12 or more than 135 cm tall must wear a seatbelt (

Parents / drivers can choose a child car seat based on the child's height or weight.

Height-based seats

Height-based seats are known as 'i-Size' seats. They must be rear-facing until the child is over 15 months old. Only when the child passenger is over 15 months old can the seat be forward facing.

Drivers must check the seat to make sure it's suitable for the height of the child.

Weight-based seats

The seat the child can use (and the way they must be restrained in it) depends on their weight

NOTE only EU-approved height and weight -based child car seats can be used in the UK,. These have a label showing a capital 'E' in a circle and the approval numbers 'R129.'for height and 'ECER44' for weight. You may also be able to choose from more than one type of seat in the group for your child's weight (see weight table below)

Child's Weight Group Seats

0 kg to 10 kg


Lie-flat or 'Lateral' baby carrier, rear facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

0 kg to 13 kg

0 +

Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness

9 kg to 18 kg


Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield

15 kg to 25 kg


Rear- or forward-facing child seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

22 kg to 36 kg


Rear - or forward facing child seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

! Manufacturers can now only make booster cushions approved as group 3 .This won't affect any existing booster cushions in group 2 and you'll still be able to use them.

Fitting a child car seat

You must only use a child car seat if your car's seat belt has a diagonal strap, unless the seat is either;

  • Specifically designed for the 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  


! The Child Car Seat website ( has information on how to choose a seat and travel safely with children in vehicles.

Children with disabilities or medical conditions

The same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions, but they can use a disabled person's seat belt or a child restraint designed for their needs.

A doctor can issue an exemption certificate If a child is unable to use a restraint or seat belt because of their condition.

The Highway Code, road safety and vehicle rules

For more information on Seat belts, their use and new child seat / belt rules then please see the following websites:

Children under 3 years of age:

Must use a child restraint appropriate for their weight and age whilst in any vehicle, (this includes vans and other commercial vehicles).

There are only 2 exceptions:

  • A child under 3 may travel unrestrained on the rear seat of a taxi if a child restraint is not available
  • A child can travel on the rear seat and wear an adult seat belt if they're 3 or older 

NOTE: - It is illegal to carry a child in a rear-facing child seat in the front which is protected by an active frontal airbag

Children over 3 and up to 1.35m, (4 feet 5 inches), or the age of 12:

If in the front seat the child must use the correct child restraint.

If in the rear, the child must use the correct restraint if seat belts are fitted unless:

There are 3 exceptions:

  • In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle
  • If the child is travelling on a short journey for an unexpected necessity
  • If there are 2 occupied child restraints in the rear of a vehicle that prevent a third being fitted

However, in all 3 cases the child must use an adult seat belt if fitted to a vehicle.

A child of 3 or over may be carried in the rear of a vehicle unrestrained if seat belts are not available.

Children over 1.35m or who are 12 or 13 years old:

Either in a front or rear seat, an adult seat belt must be worn if fitted to the vehicle.

Who is responsible?

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that a child under 14 years of age is correctly restrained.

Passengers aged 14 years and over

Seat belts must be worn if they are available and it is the passenger's legal responsibility for doing so.

What are the penalties for not using the appropriate child restraint?

You may receive a fixed penalty notice of £100.

If the case goes to court the maximum fine is £500.

You could also face civil proceedings for damages, if (for example) you failed to safely carry someone else's child.


Next Steps:

  • Source discounted products, available to Aviva insured customers and brokers only, via our Specialist Partners - click here to find out more about the savings you could make
  • View our Tools and Templates
  • Call our Risk Helpline on 0345 366 66 66
  •  Email us at

Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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