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Child Passenger Safety in the UK: Information for Families

Description: Using a specially designed car seat for children is a legal requirement in the UK. But laws and rules may be confusing, and not everyone has a good understanding of them. Here, we’ll explain child passenger safety laws & guidelines in detail. Scroll down!

Child passenger safety education is important because our little ones are so vulnerable in the car! Statistics tell that 12 children under the age of 10 die or get injured as passengers every day. So, all parents must be aware of current child passenger safety laws & guidelines.

We should also understand how to select and install a proper child-restraint system like a car seat or booster seat to provide the best possible protection in the event of a crash.

In our post, you’ll find law-based information related to this topic. Read on to ensure your child is safe, and you stay on the right side of the law.

What is a Сhild Passenger?

Let’s begin with the answer to this question and find out what the law tells us about child passenger age and requirements for restraint systems.

A child passenger is a child, younger than 12 or lower than 135 cm (4ft 5in), and he/she must be restrained in the car seat or booster seat. As soon as your child reaches the mentioned above age and height, he/she is required to use a seat belt like adults.

What Car Seat to Choose?

A child and passenger safety greatly depends on the baby car seat. So, take time and choose the highest-quality one! Here are legal requirements for children’s car seats.

In the UK, we only must use EU-approved children’s restrained systems - they feature a label with a capital "E" in a circle. Parents have to choose a model based on the kid's height or weight.

There are 3 types of children’s car seats:

Rear-facing seats or group 0+ seats - they are designed for babies up to 13kg. You’ll drive your newborn from hospital to home in a rear-facing seat and use it until he/she reaches the weight limit for the seat or the top of his/her head is at the top of the seat. To keep your child safe, the seat must be installed in the back passenger seat of your car.

You can also use a car seat carrycot, it’s a good solution for newborns with medical conditions or premature babies. Opt for a carrycot with good crash-test results.

Forward-facing seats or group 1 seats - toddlers of 9-18kg can ride in this restraint. However, as we mentioned above, your little one can stay in the rear-facing seat if he/she doesn’t outgrow it, just watch the weight and height limits.

Highback/backless booster seats or group 2 & 3 seats - this type of restraint is suitable for children of 12 years old or 15kg and more. But do keep your kid in the group 1 seat as long as it fits since it offers maximum protection. When it’s time for transition, opt for a highback booster since it’s considered a safer option compared to backless restraint.

Whatever safety car seat you use, consider a high-quality car seat protector - it’ll defend your car seat upholstery from many kid-related issues.

Can Children Travel Without a Car Seat?

According to the law, kids can travel without a car seat in a taxi, minicab, coach, or minibus. They must travel in the back passenger seat and use a seat belt. However, children under 3 shouldn’t be buckled up.

Children with special needs or medical conditions may use a restraint specially designed for their needs.

What is a Child Passenger Safety Technician?

If you need installation help or have questions related to a baby car seat, there are certified specialists - child passenger safety technicians (CPST or CPS technicians). Visit the following sites to find lists of child seat–fitting stations and certified CPSTs in the UK:


Child passenger safety laws & guidelines are aimed to improve safety for children in cars. However, only parents can ensure that their children are protected in the best possible way. So, always choose the safest options for your little one!

A brilliant Facebook group for more information and guidance is car seat advice (link below)

Author's Bio: Rachel Hudson is a happy mother of two children. Together with her husband, they love to organize family travel and explore many beautiful places altogether. In her spare time, Rachel does sports and writes travel recommendations with children.

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