Car seat abroad rules for car seats in the popular holiday countries

Are you going on holiday abroad soon with your children in the back seat? We list the rules for car seats in the popular holiday countries.

Travel car seat

In many Central European countries, a car seat is mandatory for children up to 1.50 m. For example in Germany, Italy and Austria. The maximum ages for using the seats vary from 10 to 14 years. Some countries have stricter rules for child seats in the front of the car.

In the Netherlands, a car seat is mandatory for children up to 1.35 meters.

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EU approval

The seat must be suitable for the age and weight of your child. Within Europe, car seats must have an EU approval: R44 or R129. This also applies in the Netherlands.

Don’t forget the car seat if you book a ‘fly-drive holiday’, for example. Most car rental companies also have car seats.

Car seats in Europe

These are the rules of the most popular holiday countries in Europe.

France

If children are under 10 years old, they must be in a car seat. In principle, they are not allowed to sit in the front seat unless:

  • The car has no back seat.
  • The rear seat has no seat belts.
  • The back seat is already occupied by children under 10 years of age.
  • The child in a car seat is facing the direction of travel.

You are not obliged to use a seat in a taxi. Although we do recommend this.

Germany

If your child is younger than 12 years old or shorter than 1.50 meters, an approved car seat is mandatory. These rules also apply to taxi.

Spain

Children up to 1.35 meters must sit in a car seat. Just like in The Netherlands. They are not allowed to sit in the front unless:

  • The car has no back seat.
  • You cannot install a car seat in the back seat.
  • The back seat is already occupied by children 1.35 meters or smaller.

You do not have to use a seat in the taxi during short trips in the city. Outside the city you have to.

Italy

Children shorter than 1.50 meters must sit in a car seat. Since 2019, the car must have a warning system that sounds the alarm if your child is left behind in the car. This applies to children up to 4 years old. Tourists in a rental car with Italian registration must also comply with this.

You are not obliged to use a seat in a taxi. Although we do recommend this.

Greece

Children may only be transported in a car seat if they are under 12 years old or shorter than 1.35 metres.

Turkey

A car seat is mandatory for children shorter than 1.50 meters. Children taller than 1.50 meters may use the normal seat belt. Children up to the age of 3 are only allowed in the front if they are seated against the direction of travel.

Your child should not sit in the front seat if it:

  • Is younger than 10 years.
  • Is smaller than 1.50 meters.
  • Weighs less than 36 kg.

Austria

Children shorter than 1.50 meters or younger than 14 years old must be in a car seat. No room for 3 car seats in the back? Then you can fasten a child older than 3 years with the normal seat belt.

Belgium

Children shorter than 1.35 meters must sit in a car seat. Just like in The Netherlands. If there is no space for 3 car seats in the back seat, the third child over 3 years old may be secured with only the seat belt. Children under 3 years old must be in a car seat.

England

Children under 1.35m or under 12 years old must be in a car seat. If there is no place for a third seat in the back seat, you can fasten a child from 3 years old with the normal seat belt.

Denmark

In Denmark, too, children under 1.35 meters in height must be seated in a car seat. If children are under 3 years old, the seat should not be placed in the back seat in a 1989 or older car. No 3 children are allowed in the back seat when there are only 2 seat belts.

In a taxi you are not obliged to use a car seat if there is not one. If the child is 3 years or older, you can use the normal seat belt.

Portugal

Children under 1.35m or under 12 years old must be in a car seat. They are not allowed to sit in the front. Unless a child under 3 years is facing the rear. If there are no seats or seat belts in the back, children from 3 years old can also sit in the front. If there are no seat belts at all, children under 3 years old should not be transported in the car.

Switzerland

Children shorter than 1.50 meters or younger than 12 years must be in a car seat.

car seat abroad

Car seat in the United States (US)

The use of a car seat is mandatory. The rules may vary by state.  The rules per state can be found on the IIHS and GHSA websites. Different requirements apply to car seats in the US. They must conform to FMVSS 213, rather than R44 or R129. They, therefore, differ from what we use in Europe. For example by a different way of securing in the car.

A few points of interest:

  • Babies must be transported rearward-facing in most states.
  • In most states, children must be in a car seat until they are 8 to 9. Check the rules of the state you are going to. For more information, visit the IIHS and GHSA websites.
  • In some states, children are not allowed to sit in the front seat until they are about 12 to 13 years old. If the car does not have a back seat, it is allowed in most cases.

Share your tips

What do you do on vacation? Are you going out with your own car and seat or are you renting a car? And how do you deal with the rules abroad? We are very curious. Leave a comment in our community.