The Ultimate Guide to Bringing Your Car Seat Abroad for Your Vacation or Holiday
A common topic of conversation among parents with young children is whether or not to bring a car seat along on a trip abroad, in light of the fact that their use on airplanes is a hotly debated topic. Whether you want to bring your own car seat or if it would be easier to rent one, this guide will help you decide. (We only scratch the surface of this topic, so if you want more details on bringing your car seat on a plane, check out this link.) Official sources from May and June 2022 eg. information on whether or not a car seat is authorized for use in another country has been included from the United States Department of Transportation, insurance providers, and car seat manufacturers.
Please note that I am NOT a lawyer. If you have a legal question, it's best to consult a lawyer first. The data below came from my own investigation and correspondence with relevant government agencies via email.
Information and advice on bringing a car seat abroad for a vacation or other trip
Is there any way I can get a free car seat?
Most airlines will let you bring your car seat for free, and it won't even count towards your baggage limit, if you don't plan to use it while you're in the air. Bringing a car seat on a plane requires checking it at the oversize counter. Wrapping it or putting it in a padded bag could be a good idea to safeguard it during transport.
Bringing it on board requires a paid extra seat and a car seat that is approved by the airline.
Do I need to bring an infant car seat if I bring a child?
Take your car seat and give it to a family that needs one. Assuming you want to bring it on board the plane, it must conform to the specifications set forth by the airline. It's possible that some establishments only permit forward-facing seats, or that children under the age of two are the only
Can I take my car seat with me to another country?
The rules in your destination country, the car seat you have, and the rental car you use all play major roles.
ISOFIX and ISOFIT (also known as LATCH and UAS) have become the standard for installing child safety seats in modern automobiles. There are ISOFIX models that can only be secured with the system, rather than the standard three-point seat belt. They are REQUIRED to be fastened only to the vehicle's designated ISOFIX/ISOFIT anchors.
If you plan on bringing an ISOFIX car seat, you should double-check with your rental car company to make sure your vehicle is equipped with the necessary mounting points.
Some models of car seats have retractable attachments that allow them to be used in vehicles that do not have ISOFIX points. They can fasten with a standard three-point safety belt.
There is no need for ISOFIX if you have a car seat that can be installed with just a regular three-point seat belt. The laws regarding child restraints vary from country to country, so it's important to research those laws before leaving.
If your child's car seat has an ISOFIX base and slots into it, you should double-check with the manufacturer to see if the seat can be secured in the rental car with just the 3-point harness, or if you also need to bring the base along.
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- Australian-made car seats, for example, come with a tether strap that can be fastened to a tether point in the vehicle. The tether strap must be used at all times, whether the child is in the front or back seats, per law. Furthermore, chest straps are not allowed under Australian law for car seats. A car seat made for use in the United Kingdom, the European Union, or the United States would not be legal for use in New Zealand without the appropriate AS/NZS 1754 sticker.
- In addition to not being tested in accordance with EU regulations, the additional chest clip on U.S. car seats means they cannot be used in the United Kingdom. Even if you're only away for a few days, this rule still applies to you. Please consult your officials if you are a member of the United States armed forces currently stationed in the European Union or the United Kingdom.
- Due to a lack of federal approval, car seats manufactured in the United Kingdom cannot be used in the United States. All car seats made outside the United States must adhere to these guidelines. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department and the United States Department of Transportation both provided me with the information I needed to make sure of this. Below is a screenshot from the Department's website, which (May 2022) AS WELL AS the US Department of Transportation (second screenshot, June 2022).
- The United States Department of Transportation specifies below the exact language that must be on a car seat for it to be certified for use in the United States; this includes bringing one from abroad for a holiday or vacation, which is considered a "temporary importation."
You'll find some helpful resources down here.
Is it better to bring my own car seat or rent one?
It will be a safe bet that your kid has used it before, and you'll be able to set it up without any problems. In this way, you can rest assured that it is in pristine condition and has never been in an accident. In other countries, car seats may only be required to meet minimum standards. It is not mandatory in all countries to use a car seat for children. You should consider its level of safety before making a purchase of a travel one. The Which One good place to begin is with the many available online guides. As previously mentioned, you should also confirm the practice's legality in your destination country.
If I bring my own car seat, what are the drawbacks?
They're cumbersome to carry around and store. You should check local laws before trying this.
Must I bring my own car seat in a taxi or is one provided?
While in some countries/states you are not legally required to use a car seat when taking a taxi, many people find it more convenient not to. In such cases, you may want to think about investing in a travel booster.
Before doing anything, research the local legislation. Children who are legally required to use a car seat in the United States must use one in taxis and ride-sharing services. Unless they have one, an Uber or Lyft driver has the right to refuse service. )
Your tour operator should be contacted to confirm if a car seat can be brought on board. The United Kingdom's official London Black Cabs now come equipped with 1 adjustable child seat belt located in the rear of the vehicle.
The Mifold travel Car seat, which converts an adult seatbelt into a child booster seat, is now widely available. The Mifold Grab And Go is an ultra-portable car seat that can be used with any standard seatbelt by simply adjusting the belt's size to fit a child.
It's compact enough to throw in a diaper bag and perfect for kids over the age of 4. It can be purchased anywhere in the world, making it an ideal substitute for when a regular booster seat won't do.
However, there may be minor differences between international versions, making it impossible to use, say, the UK version in the US, or vice versa. Find out right away if anything has changed Australia prohibits the use of any version.
Click here to learn more about the Mifold and view a demonstration of its features in action.
They also confirmed on their own that the Trunki BoostAPak has not been approved for use in the United States. (photo taken in July of 2019 and displayed on-screen)
The bubblegum booster seat, however, is legal in the USA. K Since it has passed rigorous testing in both the European Union and the United States, it can be sold in either country. BUT regulations are subject to change, so double-check BEFORE your trip just in case this is out of date.
When I get there, I'd like to rent a car seat. Where do I even begin?
Inquire as to the make and model of the car seat, if possible, or request a photo. Inquire if you need to fit it yourself or if they have a car seat fitter on staff. We have had the unfortunate experience of arriving at a car rental agency after a late night flight to find that nobody will help us fit the car seat because they are afraid of being sued.
In addition to the conventional methods, there are other ways to use a car seat while on vacation.
Take into consideration ordering a car seat and having it sent directly to your lodgings (motel, villa, etc.). It's also possible to have it sent to a friend or relative who will be waiting for you when you arrive. You can find a lot of online parent support groups, as well as places like eBay and Amazon. The government advises against buying a used one in case it has been in an accident, but if you must, make sure to inspect it thoroughly before putting it to use and see how this might affect your insurance premiums.
Recommended reading on U.S. child safety seat regulations
- The majority of car seats sold in the United Kingdom fail to comply with the United States' FMVSS 213 standards.
- For example, if you have an accident in the United States while using a car seat manufactured in the United Kingdom that does not conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, you could face legal consequences. Since you will have technically broken US law, it is unlikely that your car rental insurance will cover the cost of replacing your child's car seat or providing medical coverage while abroad. I called AXA to make sure, and they confirmed that if I break the law in the country I'm visiting, it will void my insurance coverage for the entire trip.
- It's important to note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers national guidance, but individual states may have laws that differ from that.
- To give just one example, Florida law mandates the use of a booster seat until age 6 and a full-size car seat until age 3. (The rules in the UK are much more stringent. While it may seem obvious to use a properly tested legal car seat or booster for older kids as well, the NHTSA's recommendations are much more involved. )
- For instance, while Florida law mandates full-back seats for children up to age 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that they be used until age 4.
- Depending on a child's age and size, the NHTSA will advise you on the best car seat to use.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests using a booster seat until the age of 12 (instead of the age of 6 required by Florida law).
- Here is a link to a lengthy legal document outlining the specifics of US law.
- Visit https://www.flhsmv.gov/.../chi.../safety-belts-child-restraints/ for more details on the law in Florida.
Vehicle Seats and Booster Seats for Children
Under Florida law, all children under the age of five must be properly restrained in a device that has passed federal crash testing standards. All children under the age of three must use an appropriate child restraint system, whether it be a separate carrier or the vehicle manufacturer's integrated child seat.
Four- and five-year-olds are required to use a child safety seat, booster seat, or integrated child seat. ”
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