Car seat requirements in Spain
As an expat moving to Spain for the first time, there are many things you know you need to be on top of. Everything from first figuring out if you qualify for permanent Spanish residency to researching how to buy a home in Spain, and, if you’re a family, maybe even getting an idea of what to keep in mind for daycares in Spain–no topic is off limits. For many expats, especially those coming from countries where driving is not only the norm, but a daily necessity, one of the first things you may also look into is the process for buying a car in Spain. However, a topic that perhaps is not initially on your radar–but should be, especially if you have kids–are car seat requirements in Spain, and how they may differ from your home country. For something that seems as standardized as a car seat, you might be surprised to find out that the requirements really vary from country to country, and Spain is no different.
If you’re reading this, it probably means you are a parent, or soon to be parent, and are concerned about what the car seat requirements are in Spain, and which car seat is going to be the safest for your child–and its no wonder. Unfortunately, according to the Spanish Department of Transportation, or DGT, every year over 1,000 children in are killed in traffic accidents all over Europe, and 80,000 more are injured. Many of these are deaths and injuries due to improper use of car seats, or a lack of any type of car seat in the vehicle.
Vehicles are equipped with many safety measures such as seat belts, air bags, and headrests which help prevent serious injury or death in the event of a motorized vehicle accident. These features of vehicles, however, do not assist in keeping children, specifically under the height of 1.35 meters, safe in a crash.
Different Car Seat Types in Spain
Before going any further, it is important to note that there are many different car seat sizes and types in Spain according to height and weight. It is Spanish law that no child under 1.35 meters, (roughly 5 feet), is without a car seat or booster seat of some kind. Ideally, the child would remain in the booster seat until they are 1. 5 meters tall, but the law requires it until 1.35, which tends to be around age 12. The idea behind this is that until this height, children are not able to touch the ground, which means that the seat belt cannot properly protect them in the event of a crash. Below you will find a brief description of each group of car seats available in Spain. You’ll note that many types of car seats overlap in different groups, which means that they use regulation-approved cushions and other features that ensure the child is safe for a larger range of height and weight. The unfortunate reality is that no matter what, you’ll need to buy at least two car seats to adequately protect your child as they grow, so it’s just a matter of finding what combination best suits your family.
Grupo 0/Grupo 0+
Grupo 0 car seats are only for infants from 0 kilos to 10 kilos, or roughly 22 pounds. Grupo 0 car seats are usually ones that can later be attached to a stroller, but they come with the disadvantage of lasting a shorter amount of time.
Grupo 0+ car seats will last until the child is 13 kilos, or roughly 29 pounds. As you may understand, many parents will opt for the grupo 0+ as it covers a larger weight range.
Deciding between a grupo 0, grupo 0+, or grupo 0+/1 is really a matter of personal choice and preference, but many parents will choose the grupo 0+/1 as it grow well with your child from birth (0 kilos) to roughly 4 years of age, or 18 kilos, (40 pounds).
This type of car seat covers from 9-18 kilos, or roughly 20-40 pounds.
This is an adaptable car seat that many parents choose once children have reached roughly 18 months old, and will be able to use it until they are roughly 4 years old. This car seat type covers children from 9 kilos to 36 kilos, or 20 to 80 pounds. If you can find a car seat in this section that you like for your family, it can last your child’s whole car seat career!
As you could reasonably assume, the grupo 2/3 covers from 15 kilos to 36 kilos. You might choose this car seat if you got by well with a 0+/1 and then want to shift to the larger size.
Car seats in this section are for older children who aren’t quite tall enough to use the traditional seat belt because they are still under 1.35 meters/5 feet tall. This is what we may refer to as a booster seat, and will be used until the child reaches the required height.
Car seat requirements in Spain: What you should know
Children must be rear-facing from birth to 9 kilograms
According to Spanish law, infants must be in an approved, rear-facing car seat until they weigh 9 kilograms, which is usually around one year old. That being said, it is highly recommended that children remain rear-facing for as long as possible, up to 4 years old or 18 kilos/40 pounds.
Children in car seats must always be in back seats
The only exception to this is if all back seats are occupied by other children in car seats. Therefore, a child under 1. 35 meters tall may occupy the co-passenger front seat with an appropriate car seat or booster seat. In these cases, the airbag must be turned off.
Taxis do not require car seats in Spain
Within urban limits during short durations, children are not required to be in a car seat in a taxi in Spain. If a taxi must take intercity motorways, the same car seat rules apply as in a normal car. Other transfer services such as Uber and Cabify in Spain usually require a child to have a car seat, or that one is reserved in advance for them.
Children must be in a car seat until 12 years of age
Under Spanish law, children must be properly secured in a car seat or booster seat that is correct for their height and weight until they are at least 1.35 meters tall (roughly 5 feet), which is typically around 12 years of age. For safety purposes, ideally it is recommended to stay in a booster seat until reaching 1.5 meters tall.
All car seats must be ECE R44/R129 approved
This approval, usually visible with a white or orange sticker, means that the car seat and its features are approved by the UN. The ECE R44 is an EU approved car seat which is still considered safe to use, however, the R126 iSize approval rating is even safer due to the additional crash testing it involves. Both are legal and safe to use, however ECE R44 may be phased out over time.
Isofix should be used whenever possible
As of 2021, Isofix systems are obligatory in all newly manufactured cars. These systems help to make car seat installation easier and safer. When purchasing a car seat, you should make sure it has isofix capabilities. If your current vehicle does not have isofix, be sure to follow the installation directions carefully on how to use it without isofix.
Chest clips are not allowed on European car seats
Not just Spanish, but rather European, regulation states that car seats must be able to be unlatched in one movement, which means that an additional chest clip would violate that requirement. They are not forbidden, per say, but you will not find chest clips on any car seats made in Spain or Europe in general, and this is why.
Rental cars must follow the saw car seat laws
If you are a tourist coming to Spain and renting a car with a child under 1.35 tall, you will need to have an appropriate car seat for them.
In conclusion, by educating yourself on car seat requirements in Spain you’re not only ensuring that you avoid unfortunate encounters and fines with law enforcement, you’re also guaranteeing your child’s safety. After all, children are not able to make informed decisions about their safety on their own, so it is up to their parents, guardians, and loved ones to do it on their behalf. Make sure you’re taking all the precautions for a safe journey by getting a car seat and the right insurance that aligns with Spain’s restrictions and standards, and enjoy the ride!
If you are searching for car insurance in Spain, Caser Expat Insurance has the right policy for you!
Using Car Seats in Spain – Kids2Go
Even if you’re just visiting Spain for a couple of weeks in the summer, it’s imperative to know the law on child seats and seat belt use. The laws are there to protect you and your passengers. Failure to comply could result in a hefty fine or, much worse, an injury to one of your loved ones.
In Spain, all drivers and any passengers travelling along urban roads or highways in a motorized vehicle are legally required to wear a properly fastened seat belt and/or child restraint. It’s prohibited for children under 12 to travel in the front seat unless they are in a car seat designed specifically for that purpose, or they are at least 135 centimeters tall, in which case they are allowed to use an adult seat belt. Those measuring less than 135 centimeters in height must use an approved child seat or harness, suitable and appropriate for their height and weight, while those measuring between 135 and 150 centimeters can use either an approved child restraint or the adult seat belt.
These rules have been set out in the Spanish General Traffic Regulations and any failure to comply is regarded as a serious offence punishable by 200 euro fine (or 260 euro for a repeat offence) plus 3 points off your license. For the purposes of this law, it is the driver who is primarily responsible, followed by the owner of the vehicle who has subsequent responsibility.
Currently, the Prosecutors’ Office for the Protection of Minors has the power to suspend parental guardianship or enforce protective measures if parents are punished three times or more for failing to use adequate child protection restraints in a vehicle.
Using the Correct Car Seats in Spain for your child.
The car seat should correspond to the height and weight of the child and be an EU approved design and make. Car seats are classified into groups 0, 0+, 1, 2 and 3 with some seats covering more than one group. The back of the car seat should be clearly labelled with the name of the manufacturer along with data showing compliance with the most recent legally required standards (currently ECE R44/04), upper and lower weight limits for the child and the seat’s serial number.
Group 0 Carriers (from 0 to 10 kg and less than 76 cm)
Infant carriers / carry cots designed specifically for newborns and babies weighing up to 10 kilos. These must be installed in the back seat of the vehicle, transversely along the seat with the baby’s head facing into the car to best protect him or her in the event of a side impact collision.
Group 0 and 0+ Child Seats (from 0 to 13 kg and less than 92 cm)
Car seat designed to be used in the back seat of the vehicle, or the front seat but only if there is no passenger airbag or it is disconnected. These seats are always rear facing. Baby is protected by the integrated harness and the child seat is anchored to the vehicle.
Group 1 Child Seat (9 to 18 kg and from 92 to 108 cm)
In a Group 1 Child Seat, the child is attached to the chair and the car (via a harness). These chairs can be forward facing or rear facing. It is very important to adjust the seat as the child grows to avoid any gaps in the harnesses and seat belt installation. It’s possible to use an Isofix anchor with Group 1 seats.
Group 2 Child Seat (15 to 25 kg and from 98 to 123 cm)
This booster seat with back support enables the vehicle’s 3-point seat belt to be adjusted to secure the child, fitting snugly to his or her body. The child can travel facing forward in the front seat or the back.
Group 3 Child Seat (22 to 36 kg and 115-150 cm)
This booster seat can be used forward facing in the front or back seat of the vehicle.
It’s best to leave it as long as possible before moving your child up to the next group of car seats. During the period when their weight overlaps the two groups, babies are much safer travelling in a Group 0+ car seat than in a Group 1.
Additionally, it’s recommended that you use a Group 2 booster seat with backrest until the child measures 135 centimeters or above, as long as this is possible within the usage guidelines for your chosen seat.
IMPORTANT TIP: Ensure you order the correct car seat for your child at the time of making a car hire reservation. Last minute child car seats are not always easy to find and it can be a stressful start to your journey.
Rules for transporting children in a car in Spain, how to choose the right booster seat
Going on vacation to Spain or ordering a transfer from the airport, motorists should be aware of the traffic in this country. This issue must be studied especially carefully when transporting children, since the rules for transporting babies vary in all countries.
According to traffic regulations in Spain, children under the age of 12 and below 135 cm cannot be transported in the front seat, even with special devices. During transportation in the front seat, a child 135-150 cm tall must be fastened with a seat belt and sit in a special device – a booster.
Although it is no longer mandatory when children are 1.35 meters tall, the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) of Spain recommends using the seat whenever possible until the child is 1.50 meters tall.
In all other cases, children in Spain are transported in the back seat. Children under 135 centimeters (usually children 12 years old), drivers are required to transport in special devices – child seats. In case of violation of the transportation rules, drivers are charged a fine of 200 euros or 260 in case of repeated violation.
Carrying children using a booster seat
A booster seat is a special backless seat that raises a small passenger to the level of a seat belt. In Spain, this type of seat is recommended for children taller than 135 cm in the following cases:
- Children can be placed in the front seats in boosters if the rear seats are already occupied by other children.
- If the rear seat is not equipped with child seat anchors.
- Children are allowed to be carried in the front seat in a two-seat booster car, however, speed limits are imposed on the driver: no more than 60 km / h in the city and 90 km / h on the highway.
In Spain, even the safety of the fastening of the child is controlled. Therefore, before driving, make sure that the seat belt fits snugly around the child’s chest and passes over the shoulder if you are using a booster for the front seat.
For the transport of children of the specified height without a booster in Spain, a fine of 130 euros is withdrawn from the driver. In terms of weight category, the Spanish government has set limits for transporting children under 33 kg in the front seat, even in a booster seat. If this rule is violated, the driver will be fined 90 euro.
Transporting children using child seats
Child seats are recommended for transporting children under 12 years of age and shorter than 135 cm.
The Spanish police can fine a driver for placing a child in a seat that is not designed for the height and weight of the child.
Recommendations for transporting children in child seats in Spain:
- Baby age: 0-12 months. Child weight: 0-15 kg. The Spanish government recommends transporting children in group 0 child seats (cradles): Ramatti Mars comfort and Maxi-cosi Cabrio Fix. The seat for newborns is installed sideways to the driver’s or passenger’s seat with the head towards the center of the car. Seats 0+ are installed facing backwards.
- Baby’s age: 9 months – 4 years old. Weight of the child: from 10 to 20 kg. For comfortable transportation, the following group I chairs are recommended: Romer DUO plus and Maxi-cosi TOBI. These chairs are additionally fixed with the ISO Fix fastening system.
- Children aged: 4 to 12 years. Child weight: 15-35 kg. This category of passengers in Spain is transported in special rear seat seats: Solution X2, Cyber Solution X2-Fix and Romer Kid Fix.
If the Spanish police suspect that the weight and height of the child does not match the seat used, then they have the right to check these parameters and issue a fine to the driver in the amount of 90 euros, in case of discrepancy.
Minor violations for which you can get a fine:
- Police fines drivers who transport children in special devices without labels indicating the type of seat or booster. For the lack of a label, the driver is issued a fine of 50 euros.
- Transportation of children on a moped in Spain is allowed only for adults, provided that the child is wearing a helmet. Moped owners are subject to a speed limit of 50 km/h. For violation – a fine of 120-160 euros.
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On October 1, 2015, a modification of the General Traffic Regulations came into force in Spain, which contains rules for the use of seat belts, as well as a description of safety measures when children travel in a car. The statistics on this issue leave much to be desired, traffic accidents are the leading cause of child mortality in developed countries, primarily because the safety belt does not protect children, since their legs, due to age and height, do not reach the floor.
So, the main points of the modification dated October 1, 2015, regarding the travel of children in a car in Spain:
- Children up to 1.35 m must travel in a special child car seat, which is installed in the back row of seats. The only exception is when all the seats in the back row are occupied by other children, in which case minors can travel in the front seat in a homologated car seat;
- the age of children (under 12) is not a fundamental reason for using child seats, today it is the height of the child that is important, i.e. it should be less than 1.35 m;
- Group 0 or 0+ child seats must be installed in the opposite direction of the vehicle. This position of the child seat provides the greatest possible protection for the head, neck and spine. The child seat must be replaced when the child weighs more than 13 kg and his head is out of the seat;
- It is very important that the child seat is appropriate for the age and height of the child. It must be remembered that all child seats must have a homologation sticker, which serves as a guarantee that the seat complies with all safety standards set by European regulations.
The penalty for not following the rules for transporting children in a car in Spain can be 200 euros, and you can also lose three points of your driver’s license, according to the Spanish system. In addition, police officers have the right to prohibit you from further movement.
Child seat in Spain: at what age is it mandatory?
The child must travel in a child seat appropriate for their age and weight until the child is over 1. 35 m tall, i.e. until approximately 12 years of age. For heights over 1.35 m, the use of a child seat is no longer necessary. The Department of Road Traffic (DGT) in turn recommends using a child seat if possible until the child reaches a height of 1.50 m, from that moment parents can choose between a standard seat belt and a child seat of the third group (from 22 to 30 kg).
Is it possible to travel with children without a child seat in a taxi in Spain?
Yes, it is possible, but only in urban areas and in no case – on highways. It is always necessary to ask the driver not to rush and to observe the minimum permissible speed limit.
If you plan to travel outside the city by taxi, then when ordering, ask for a car with a child seat.
If you have any other questions related to your stay in Spain, please contact our service center. We hope that our article was useful for you, you have learned and intend to apply the rules for transporting children in Spain by car.