William and Kate in Prince George royal car-seat controversy

Parents ignorant of child car seat rules
7 Apr, 2014 3:20pm Jake-Aman Shah

William and Kate spark car seat safety debate. But what are the UK rules?

A parent’s decision on what car seat to use doesn’t normally warrant front page news but when the child is Prince George - and the parents are William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – it generates a boot-load of debate.

Pictures were released by New Zealand’s national childcare advisory agency Plunket of a staff member fitting a forward-facing childseat to the official car that will transport the royal family on their official tour of the country.

Parents pointed out the Maxi-Cosi seat chosen by the Duke and Duchess wasn’t safe given that Plunket guidelines tell parents to carry children in rear-facing car seats until the age of two to limit whiplash in an accident.

But what are the rules and regulations in the UK? Here at Auto Express we’ve pulled together all the useful details you need to know if you’re new parent going out on a family trip.

Rear-facing baby seats can be used for children up to 13kg

The Government says that front-facing baby seats – similar to the one chosen for Prince George - are legal for children weighing nine kilograms up to 18kg rather than a specific age limit. Meanwhile, rear-facing baby seats can be used for children up to 13kg.

Once they’re a bit older, forward-facing car seats – also known as booster seats – can be used for children between 15 to 25kgs while booster cushions are available for over 22kgs.

The Government guidelines state that a child normally has to use a baby seat or booster seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall. Be careful though, as only EU approved seats – marked with a capital E in a circle – can be used in the UK.

Additionally, car seats shouldn’t be fitted in side-facing seats while if you’re strapping the seat into a front seat you’ll need to disable the passenger airbags on that side.

Like most rules and regulations there are some exemptions. If the journey is “necessary, unexpected and short” and the correct seat isn’t available then children over three can use an adult seat belt.

If a car isn’t fitted with seatbelts then children over three can travel in the back seat without a car seat and without a belt but if they’re under three, they can’t travel at all.

Click here to find out about the safest cars on sale in the UK.