Spanish law clearly prescribes the manner in which children may ride in vehicles. Depending on the age and size of the child, the law may require the use of a seat specially designed for a baby or child, or it may restrict where in the vehicle the child may sit.
Spain’s child seat laws use five European Union-wide overlapping age and weight brackets to guide the selection of child seats. Spanish law attempts to ensure the survival of children in serious accidents, in which their size might otherwise expose them to greater risk than fully grown adults.
Older children in Spain, like all adults, are required to wear standard seat belts, which are already installed in a new vehicle. All car seats for smaller or younger children must be designed to afford protection similar to that of standard seat belts by adapting to a child’s smaller frame and lesser weight.
These child seats may be composed of an arrangement of flexible straps to be secured with a buckle, attached to a chair and/or shield, and anchored firmly to the car’s provided seat or bench.
Alternatively, the car seat may be a restraint device that simply affixes to the pre-installed safety belt to adjust it to the child’s frame and weight.
Babies and Toddlers
Laws and regulations about child car seats in Spain comply with EU-wide directives. Similarly, all car seats purchased for use in Spain must meet EU standards and bear the CE (Conformitée Européenne) mark. Babies and small children weighing less than 10kg or under nine months of age must ride in specially designed carry-cot seats. This seat must be placed in the back seat of the vehicle and be securely fastened to the seat with the car’s pre-installed safety belt.
If a child weighs between 10kg and 13kg or is between nine months and 2 years of age, the appropriate car seat must also be placed in the back seat, and must face rearward. A rearward-facing child seat cannot be mounted in any seat that has an activated frontal air bag. Only if the air bag is completely deactivated can that seat be used; automatic, weight-responsive deactivating airbag systems are not permissible.
Children between the ages of nine months and 3 years of age, weighing between 9 and 18kg, may sit in child seats facing either forward or backward. They must be placed in the back seat of the car and securely fastened with the vehicle’s pre-installed safety belts. Children between 3 and 6 years of age or weighing between 15kg and 25kg must use a seat adaptor and, optionally, a seat belt adaptor, to allow proper use of the vehicle’s pre-installed safety belt.