Foreign Office updates Spain travel guidance with fine warning over car seat rules

Like in the UK, children who are less than 135cm tall must travel in an approved car seat on Spain's roads
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Holidaymakers heading to Spain with their kids have been issued a warning over strict rules when it comes to road safety in the popular summer destination.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice for the country with a warning for any families with young children that plan to drive while sightseeing in Spain. Just like in the UK, Spanish authorities can issue a large fine if they find that a child's car seat has been installed incorrectly, with the FCDO warning that this is considered a "serious offence".

In the UK drivers risk a £500 fine if they are caught using a car seat in their vehicle that is unsuitable or has not been fitted properly, with the law stating that children must normally use a car seat until they are 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Car seats must be chosen based on your child's height and weight, and only seats approved by the EU, which bear a label with a capital E in a circle, are legal in the UK.

In Spain, it is also compulsory to transport children who are less than 135cm tall in a UN R44/R129-approved car seat in the back seat of the car, according to consumer experts at Which?. When a car only has two seats, or when it's not possible to fit more car seats in the back, then one car seat can be installed on the front seat, as long as the air bag is deactivated.

Children are only permitted to travel in the front seat of the car if the rear seats are already occupied by other children, or if the vehicle does not have rear seats, the Foreign Office explained in its update. Additionally, seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers in the front and back seats.

If you are not bringing your own car seat from home on your trip, the FCDO advises that car hire agencies can provide child seats and you should request one when you reserve the vehicle if needed. However, when it comes to hire cars, Which? advised: "The only choice of travel car seat could be one that's the wrong size or car seat group for your child."

The experts added: "Make sure the seat is suitable for the age and weight of your child by checking the label. Make sure the harness isn't damaged or worn and that the buckle works properly.

"You could also end up with an older model that doesn't have the same safety innovations as newer models. If you are going to hire a travel car seat, phone or email ahead to see what models of car seat are available," the consumer group suggested.

The RAC explains in its Spain driving guide that any car restraint system must be adapted to the size and weight of the child occupying it, otherwise it will be considered incorrectly installed, making the driver liable for a fine. The fine for being caught not using a car seat when you should be, or using one incorrectly, is around 300 euros in Spain.