Foreign Car Seat Laws
What applies while traveling? Can I use my car seat in Europe or US? Parents should be applauded for bring car seats when traveling. Unfortunately, regulations make doing this legally almost impossible. Parents often ask about this so lets make clear what apply.
A US car seat, certified FMVSS, can not be used legally in Europe. Vice versa, a European car seat, certified ECE R44, can’t be used legally in US. Those are the two most common standards. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a quick three day trip or staying for a year. Exceptions might apply to military personnel in Europe (and other countries) and diplomats.
Is it still a good idea to bring a car seat? The answer is almost always yes. Protecting a child at destination is important, it’s for example thousands of time more dangerous to drive compared to flying (without a car seat). Bringing your own car seat means being in control and always having a car seat ready. You will already know how to safely install your car seat and your child will feel comfortable and at home in his/her seat.
What about renting car seats? This is not recommended unless there are no other options. There are a few exceptions in Scandinavia where car seat stores are renting high quality seats cheaply. Problem with renting is you never know what type of car seat will be supplied and what condition it’s in. It’s no fun showing at at the car rental agency with your 18 month old and be given a booster seat. There are countless horror stories about renting seats.
If you do decide to rent a seat, call and email before to make sure what seat your child will be using. Don’t speak to the main customer service office. Get the number for the local rental place, make a call and speak personally with the manager to ask specifically about their car seats.