It is mandatory to use child car seats within the EU for all children up to the heights of 1.35m or 1.5m – depending on the member state.
There are currently two legal standards in Europe:
i-Size (this is a new standard for group 0/0+/1 seats that will exist alongside ECE R44/04 for a number of years and sets more advanced safety standards based on more recent safety data).
To meet ECE R44/04 approval car seats are tested in frontal collisions at 50km/h and rear collisions at 30 km/h using crash test dummies and advanced measuring instruments designed to assess the levels of protection each seat offers. ECE R44/04 approved seats can all be identified by their orange approval label.
WHAT DOES THE APPROVAL LABEL TELL ME ABOUT MY SEAT?
- Your seat meets the European Safety Standard. Note the last two digits: these should end in 04 (latest version) or 03. R44-01 or 02 are not legal and may not be sold or used since 2008.
- There are 3 types of car seat approval: universal, semi-universal and vehicle specific. ‘Universal’ means your seat is approved for installation in all cars, although you should check that the seat fits really well in your car. See below article on ‘Type Labelling’.
- Approval for weight (group). If a letter Y is added here, it means that the child seat features a 5-point harness system with crotch strap.
- European approval indicator.
- Indicates the country in which the approval was obtained:
2 = France
3 = Italy
4 = The Netherlands etc.
- Approval number. The first two numbers (04) show to which version the child seat has been approved, in this case ECE R 44/04.
- Name of product manufacturer
- BAR code
- Unique number allocated to your specific seat, for testing and tracking.
To determine if a child car seat fits your car, there are 3 types of car seat approvals:
The seat is approved for use in all vehicles that meet ECE R14 and R16 regulations. Any Isofix car seat must use the Isofix anchorage points including the top tether or foot support and the vehicle’s handbook must state that the car is suitable for “Universal Isofix child seats”.
Semi-universal approval is when, in addition to the standard requirements, other safety devices for attaching a seat are used and require additional testing. For example: some vehicles provide additional storage space within or beneath the floor area that can influence the behavior of a child seat foot support, therefore you need to check the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list for your car type and model.
Vehicle specific approval
The child seat is tested in an additional car-specific dynamic crash test and approved only for these cars. The car must be listed in the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list. This may include special features or designs that can only be installed in a car of a specific type.
i-Size (ECE R129)
i-Size is a new regulation for child car seats that will run in parallel to the current regulation (ECE R44/04) for the next few years. It has been in force since July 9th 2013. We were a major contributor to its development and believe that it will greatly increase protection for little ones across Europe.
The key changes are:
Extended rearward facing travel until a minimum of 15 months
Proven to be the safer way to travel in case of frontal collisions
Added side impact test
To ensure the seat provides better protection in the case of side collisions
ISOFIX only seats
Using our 1997 invention together with Volkswagen to greatly reduce the risk of incorrect installation
Based on the age and size of the child rather than weight
Reflecting the latest safety data and giving parents a clearer indicator of what seat is right for their child and when their child is ready to be moved to the next stage car seat.
i-Size (or ECE R129) approved car seats can be recognized on the orange approval label by the “i-Size” indication. Additionally, one can easily find the appropriate length classification of the car seat on the label. The remainder of the approval label looks alike the ECE R44 label.