Car safety requirements for foster carers

Introduction of new car seat regulations from 18 September 2006

All children under a certain age/height throughout the United Kingdom must be provided with car child seats or booster cushions.

Car owners could be given £30 on-the-spot fines rising to £500 for a court appearance if they do not comply with the new regulations, which came into force in 2006.

New rules came into force on 18th September 2006 requiring children who are passengers in vehicles to use a child restraint.

This table is a summary of these new rules for cars, vans and goods vehicles.

Front Seat

Rear Seat

Who is responsible?

Child up to 3 yrs old

Correct child restraint MUST be used

Correct child restraint MUST be used. If a restraint is not available in a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle, the child may travel unrestrained.


Child from 3rd birthday up to 135cms in height (approx 4’5’’) (or 12th birthday whichever they reach first

Correct child restraint MUST be used

Where seat belts are fitted, the correct child restraint MUST be used. The child must use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available as follows:

-in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle; or

-for a short distance in an unexpected necessity; or

-two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.

A child 3 yrs & over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not fitted in the rear.


Child over 1.35 metres (approx 4’5’’) in height or 12or 13 yrs old.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.


Passengers aged 14 years old and over

Seat belt MUST be worn if available

Seat belt MUST be worn if available.


In almost all cases, every child up to 135cms (4’5’’) or the age of 12 (whichever is reached first) must use a child restraint and drivers may not carry children as passengers just in seat belts.

Rear facing baby seats MUST NOT be used in a seat protected by a front air-bag unless the air bag has been deactivated manually or automatically.

From May 2008 all child restraints must comply with the UN ECE 44.03 standard. It is an expectation that foster carers should follow these car seat rules and cannot continue to foster if they don’t. Please contact your supervising social worker if you have any queries about this new requirement. Also for more information visit

Foster carers must not carry more passengers in their car than they have seat belts.

Update February 2017

Child Car Seats: The Law

Rules changed in February 2017 around booster seats and babies who now need to stay in rear facing seats until 15 months. See:


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