Transport of children in cars

Published on 05.10.2021

The ACL answers the questions you may have.

The transport of children in cars always raises plenty of questions from parents: can babies be transported on the front seat? Should the other children be fastened in the back? Are all child seats suitable? Can they use a booster seat? The regular phone calls on this subject received by the ACL demonstrate that many people still recall information which has been outdated for some time.


Main provisions of the Highway Code

Set out below are the main provisions of the Highway Code currently in force, regulating the transport of children in cars:

  • Following the abolishment of half-seats, no child, regardless of its age or size, can now be considered a ‘half’ in the calculation of the seats. Thus: one child = one full seat.
  • Children under 3 should still be seated in an appropriate child seat certified by an authorised standard, even if they are transported in a back seat.
  • When the child is fastened in the back by just the lap belt, the seat in front of it should be moved forward to prevent the child’s head striking the front seat back in a collision.
  • For safety reasons, the use of the “back to the road” restraint system (Maxi-Cosi type seat) is prohibited on seats with a front airbag, unless the airbag is deactivated.
  • Children under 18 and under 150 cm in height, but who weigh more than 36 kg, can be transported in the back of the car without a child seat. These children must still, however, wear the safety belt or the single lap belt if appropriate.
  • On an occasional journey over a short distance, children aged between 3 years and under 18 years, and under 150 cm in height, can be transported in the back without a child seat, but only in a vehicle whose number of seats registered on the registration card is no more than 5. Clearly, these children should still wear the safety belt or the single lap belt if appropriate.
  • Transporting a minor child in violation of the regulations will see the driver lose 2 points on their driving licence (from 01.06.15)
  • If travelling abroad, the rules in force in the country crossed or visited are, in principle, applicable.
Age/size In the front of the car In the back of the car
Under 3 years Special Restraint System (SRS)* SRS*
From 3 to under 18 years and under 150 cm SRS* SRS*/**
From 3 to under 18 years and over 150 cm  Safety belt Safety belt
From 18 years Safety belt Safety belt

 * A child seat or a booster seat are considered Special Restraint Systems, provided they are appropriate to the weight of the child and have certification, i.e. featuring the marking ECE-R44 (ECE-R44/03, ECE-R44/04 or R129 (also called “i-Size”)

** In two exceptional cases, these children may be transported without a Special Restraint System but using the safety belt or using just the lap belt:

  • Occasional transport over a short distance and without an SRS, in a vehicle whose number of seats registered on the registration card is no more than 5.
  • Transport of a 3rd child if, due to a lack of space, the use of a 3rd SRS isn’t possible.

More information from the ACL on the number 45 00 45-1 or


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