Skip to Content

European Union legislation

European Union legislation


European Union legislation with regard to seatbelts and child seats

European Directive 2003/20/EC,approved in 2003 and in force since 2006, makes the wearing of seatbelts and the use of child restraining systems mandatory for all drivers and their passengers, in particular children:

  1. It prohibits children under three from traveling in any vehicle that isn't equipped with a child restraining system suitable for their age and weight. If the vehicle is not equipped with a restraining system, children under three cannot travel in it.

  2. Children over 3 years of age and under 150cms in height  can only travel in the front passenger seat of a vehicle if the use a suitable child seat.

  3. Every country within the EU can permit, within its territory, children under 150 cm but at least 135 cm in height to use adult seatbelts. 

  4. Every country within the EU can permit, within it's territory, that children traveling by taxi do not have to use a restraining device. However, when traveling without a restraining device they cannot travel in the front seat.

  5. Children cannot use backward facing retention devices.

  6. All of the child restraining systems used must comply with the  regulations European Directive 77/541/EEC, or any earlier adaptation of them.

  7. In buses, all of the occupants over 3 years of age seated in a bus, must use, the safety devices installed in the bus.

As with all European Directives, compliance is obligatory in all 26 member states of the European Union.

It is also worth mentioning Commission Execution Directive 2014/37/EU of 27 February 2014 amending Council Directive 91/671/EEC relating to compulsory use of safety belts and child restraint systems in vehicles. 

This Directive stipulates that children must travel in the rear seats with the appropriate child restraint system and that child restraint devices must be installed in accordance with instructions provided by their manufacturer (e.g. in an instruction manual, brochure or electronic publication) indicating how and in what type of vehicles they can be used safely.

Likewise, it is established that any child restraint device used must be approved in accordance with current or subsequent approval standards.

In this regard, it is important to highlight the two approval standards currently in force for child restraint systems:

-Regulation No. 44 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of power-driven vehicles ("child restraint systems"). 

-Regulation No. 129 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE): Uniform provisions concerning the approval of enhanced child restraint systems used on board motor vehicles (ECRS).

OECD Recommendations for safer driving

It is worth mentioning a report from 2003 by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) in which they stress the importance of national laws to protect children of all ages, without exception. The protection on the other hand and according to the OECD, should not be dependenton the vehicle being used (private car, taxi…).

The legislative package recommended by the OECD includes: instruction in the function of age and weight of children, information on which seat or seats should be used by children, practical guidance for traffic policeon on supervisingthe installation and use of seats, penalties (including fines, points on the license, loss of driving license) and increases in insurance premiums. The key points of the legislation according to the OEDC are:

  1. All the occupants of the vehicle, without exception, must be protected by a seat belt or child seat.

  2. Children must travel in a child seat suitable for their size. (Baby seats, child seats, booster seats, seatbelts…).

  3. The law includes every driver and every vehicle equipped with seatbelts.

  4. The driver is responsible for guaranteeing than any passenger under 16 years of age is correctly protected in their vehicle.

Do you want to know more about the approval of child restraint systems?

-Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/166 of 3 February 2015 supplementing and amending Regulation (EC) No. 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding the inclusion of certain procedures, assessment methods and specific technical requirements, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulations (EU) No. 1003/2010.

-Regulation No. 16 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - Uniform provisions concerning the approval of: I. Seat belts, restraint systems, child restraint systems and ISOFIX child restraint systems for motor vehicle occupants - II. Vehicles equipped with seat belts, seat belt reminders, restraint systems, child restraint systems and ISOFIX child restraint systems.

-Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2019 concerning type-approval requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers, and for systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, with regard to their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users, amending Regulation (EU) 2018/858 of the European Parliament and of the Council and overturning Regulations (EC) No. 78/2009. (EC) No. 79/2009 and (EC) No. 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulations (EC) No. 631/2009. (EU) No. 406/2010. (EU) No. 672/2010. (EU) No. 1003/2010. (EU) No. 1005/2010. (EU) No. 1008/2010. (EU) No. 1009/2010. (EU) No 19/2011. (EU) No 109/2011. (EU) No.458/2011. (EU) No 65/2012. (EU) No. 130/2012. (EU) No. 347/2012. (EU) No 351/2012. (EU) No. 1230/2012 and (EU) 2015/166 of the Commission. Applicable from July 6, 2022.

Back to top