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  1. #1
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    Car seats in Germany

    We are moving to Germany for a year and a half and my youngest daughter is growing out of her bucket seat )she has 1 inch to grow). If we buy a Canadian seat can we use it legally in Germany? If we buy a German seat can we use it legally in Canada when we return? Also, my older daughter is 4 and about 38lbs. Should we move her into a booster and give her seat to the younger one?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    Unfortunately your Canadian seats will not be legal in Germany, nor your German ones legal in Canada.

    As a technician I'd have to tell you to buy new seats twice.

    As a parent, taking off my technician hat for a minute, I was in this situation a year ago. We lived in Dresden from January to July this year. And I brought my US seats and used them illegally. In Germany you will be hard pressed to find seats that rear face past 13kg (most are 9kg) and there aren't any in the stores that harness past 18kg. A four year old should be harnessed, and ideally with a top tether (if you get to pick your car, I'd look for one with tethers, they won't be automatic like they are in Canada). And of course kids should rear face for at least two years, and ideally longer. German seats won't allow for that.

    Swedish seats are legal in Germany, so that may be an option for you. Or finding one of the few higher weight harnessed seats in Europe. They won't be legal when you come back to Canada.

    Last thing with my parent's hat on. No one mentioned my seats in the 17 or so countries they went to. And Laine's was blatantly illegal (rear facing 3.5 year old in a seat not made in Germany with a chest clip). I saw some Canadian seats at our international school as well. So I wasn't alone.

    Now, technician hat back on. What I did was illegal and it cannot be my recommendation to you. I can't tell you to break the law. There ARE legal options in Europe, though they're not German.

    And you are allowed to bring your seats with you and use them legally on the tourist's visa. It's when you get your resident visa that you'll need to follow the resident's laws. That took until the beginning of May for us, so four months. So if you're not certain, you can bring them, use them while you check out German and Swedish options, then make your decision before the law switches over for you.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
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  5. #3
    Carseat Crazy newyorkDOC's Avatar
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    WSS.

    The hauck varioguard is an "economical" EU seat that RF to 18 kg if used with isofix. I have one. We love it (thus far). It's available on Amazon UK which ships all over Europe.

    Or, you could pass down your convertible to the 1yo and bring a nautilus with you for your 4yo. We have the nautilus in Europe so it won't look too foreign (other than the chest clip). The euro nautilus only harnesses to 18 kg though so I wouldn't buy a euro version.
    Mom to Caterina born January 12, 2009 and FF in a TWE and Julian born September 6, 2012 and RF in a Varioguard

  6. #4
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    Also keep in mind that most European seats are not airline approved, so if you're planning on using seats on board (and I hope you would, at least for the younger!) you wouldn't be able to do that with many European seats.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  7. #5
    Senior Community Member Adventuredad's Avatar
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    And you are allowed to bring your seats with you and use them legally on the tourist's visa. It's when you get your resident visa that you'll need to follow the resident's laws. That took until the beginning of May for us, so four months. So if you're not certain, you can bring them, use them while you check out German and Swedish options, then make your decision before the law switches over for you.
    This is incorrect and has been discussed many times before. This is what apply:

    It's illegal to use a car seat in Europe which is not certified ECE R44. Like car seats with Canadian or US certification. It doesn't matter if you are in EU for a day, a month or a year. It doesn't matter if you are a tourist or a resident. It's irrelevant if you have a tourist visa or a resident visa. It's illegal regardless of these circumstances.

    Those in the military or diplomats are the only ones who might be exempt from the ECE R44 certification. There is no "switch" in rules between your status as a tourist or a resident. This is simply incorrect.

    A four year old should be harnessed, and ideally with a top tether (if you get to pick your car, I'd look for one with tethers, they won't be automatic like they are in Canada). And of course kids should rear face for at least two years, and ideally longer. German seats won't allow for that.
    The AAP recommendation of rear facing to age 2 or longer was Stone Age when it arrived. Not surprising since the goal of AAP seem to be to confuse parents as much as possible and be way, way way behind reality. Kids should rear face to age 4 or longer which we have known for a very long time.

    A child at age four is not any safer in a harnessed seats compared to a high back booster. This is a US myth which is incorrect. There is no data, stats, research or real life experiences supporting it. A four year old child would be FAR safer rear facing but if forward facing a HBB is just as safe, or safer, than a harnessed seat.

    The Swedes have focused intesely on car seat safety since 1960 and started keeping kids rear facing in 1965. The car seat safety is the envy of the world and so is the safety record. Fatalties for young children, up to age 8 or so, is basically zero each year.

    Forward facing seats with harness for older children are not sold in the country for the simple reason of not being any safer. They are considered less safe by the experts over here largely to the extremely high neck loads. Other factors which make HBB a bettter choice are far lower prices, lower weight, easier installation and easy movement between vehicles.

    There is no reason to use a harnessed seat FF seat for an older child unless the child has special needs. Doesn't matter what country is discussed.

    The opinion of the car seat safety obsessed Swedes could of course be ignored. Lots of great advice is ignored. But it's likely not a good idea. The obsesson with keeping kids safe in cars and half century long intense focus on child safety has been very educational. The safety record speaks for itself.

    The Swedish advice of keeping kids rear facing for a long time was laughed at for 30+ years. Now there is no laughing and instead parents are trying to follow these habits. If harnessed seats were safer for older kids we would not only use them in the country but we would also tell others to use them as well. Simply because it would save the lives of many children.

    A Canadian rear facing seat will likely work fine although it's illegal. No one is likely to notice or care. Try to keep the little one rear facing for as long as possible. If you prefer EU seats there are many to select from. Both Swedish and others.

    Use a harnessed seat for your older child if you prefer. Safety is not any better than a HBB but some parents still feel better about it. If your HBB is Canadian or from EU will not make a difference safety wise.
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  9. #6
    Carseat Crazy newyorkDOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendytthomas View Post
    Also keep in mind that most European seats are not airline approved, so if you're planning on using seats on board (and I hope you would, at least for the younger!) you wouldn't be able to do that with many European seats. Wendy
    not true. The euro seats all have the UN sticker and the airlines accept that as well as FAA approval. It's that many non-American airlines limit cat seat use period.
    Mom to Caterina born January 12, 2009 and FF in a TWE and Julian born September 6, 2012 and RF in a Varioguard

  10. #7
    CPS Technician gsdguenter's Avatar
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    The only point I'd make to Adventuredad is that a 4 yr old is safe in a booster as long as he/she can sit properly in it. I know for a fact my 4 yr old couldn't. She's still rfing.

    I'm not convinced harness is safer than booster, but I am convinced maturity plays a HUGE role. I don't know many 4 yr olds who are mature enough to sit properly in a booster for the duration of the ride. 5, sure. 6, even more likely.


  11. #8
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    I agree with gsdguenter. My 5 year old at 35lb can't sit properly in a booster.

    Just wondering though about 5 point harness vs seatbelt... if 5 points aren't safer, why do race car drivers have them? To me it seems that a 5 point harness, in a crash, would spread the impact forces over a larger area than a 3 point asymmetrical seatbelt?

    I wonder why nobody has done any testing to resolve this issue once and for all - since a hbb is a lot cheaper and lighter in general to use, and if there wasn't this conflict in perceptions, people could move straight on to hbb after ERF, and there would be no need for combo or convertible seats except for special needs children.

  12. #9
    CPS Technician gsdguenter's Avatar
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    I wanted to go from rfing to booster with both my kids. DD2 is still rfing but has hypotonia and dyspraxia so I think when she does outgrow rfing she'll need the support of a harness.

    DD1 outgrew rfing at 4y10m. I put her in a booster but had to move her to a harness because of her inability to sit still, reliably. So now, she rides in a harness or booster depending on which car she's in. It works for us.

    I agree though, it's be awesome to do some testing on harness v. Booster. There were 2 studies I believe, but they yielded opposite results if I recall correctly.

    Personally, I don't think there's a definitive answer. I think there are too many factors.


  13. #10
    CPS Fanatic bubbaray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mom_In_SA View Post
    Just wondering though about 5 point harness vs seatbelt... if 5 points aren't safer, why do race car drivers have them? To me it seems that a 5 point harness, in a crash, would spread the impact forces over a larger area than a 3 point asymmetrical seatbelt? .
    We've been over this many times. You can't compare a race car restraint because they use a HANS device. It decreases load on the head/neck, which is what increases risk in a 5pt harness in older children.
    Melissa

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  15. #11
    CPS Fanatic bubbaray's Avatar
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    Getting back on point, I would use Canadian restraints in Germany in a heartbeat.

    I would not use foreign seats in Canada because they are easy to spot and I've been through enough police child restraint checks to know that unless you have the maple leaf sticker, you are screwed.

    If I were going to bring back EU seats to Canada, I would get a Swedish seat from AD.
    Melissa

    DD#1, April 2004, FFg in a Pink Harmony Literider & Onyx Parkway SG
    DD#2, January 2007, FFg in a Pink Monterey & Purple with Pink Hearts HBTB

    Riding in my 2010 Toyota RAV4 and DH's 2011 Ford 150 Crew Cab

  16. #12
    Carseat Crazy FrauDrA's Avatar
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    Not a tech, but I've been in the same boat. When we moved to Germany, we had only one kid, and he was 9months old. He still fit in his SafeSeat baby bucket, we brought it along. (As we did when we visited Gerrmany when he was 4months old.) My parents planned to visit us for his first birthday, so they bought a convertible, left it boxed/packed, and brought it to us, and brought the (well packed) bucket back to Canada. The we brought the convertible back with us. On a subsequent visit, we bought a local seat for #1 and left it there (with permission for his cousin to use it), and brought the bucket for #2. (On our most recent visit, we brought US-approved Bubble Bums for taxis, and used our nephew's seats in BIL's cars.)

    Which is all to say, we've made parental choices. Some weren't keeping to the letter of the law, but all were conscious and considered decisions to keep our kids safe.

    (Where will you be living?)
    #1 (September 2006) Boostered in a Britax Frontier XT
    #2 (November 2009) FF in a Britax Boulevard
    Riding in a 2012 Volvo XC70 (Travel: Ozzi, Bubble Bum; Grandparents' cars: SKJP Radian, HBTB, Storchenmühle Starlight)

  17. #13
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    Quote Originally Posted by bubbaray View Post
    We've been over this many times. You can't compare a race car restraint because they use a HANS device. It decreases load on the head/neck, which is what increases risk in a 5pt harness in older children.
    I'm sorry I didn't know you'd been over this many times. But didn't HANS only come out in the 1990's? So before that, I'm assuming 5 pt harnesses sans HANS were still deemed safer than 3 pt safety belts for race car drivers.

    Anyway, if budget is not a concern, I would buy Britax Two Way Elite carseats for both of them for your stay- available from carseat.se. (I'm really coveting that seat! I REALLY wish I could get one.) It seems as if the law in Germany is pretty lax regarding carseats, so maybe getting Canadian seats would be more frugal albeit less legal...

  18. #14
    Carseat Crazy newyorkDOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mom_In_SA View Post
    I'm sorry I didn't know you'd been over this many times. But didn't HANS only come out in the 1990's? So before that, I'm assuming 5 pt harnesses sans HANS were still deemed safer than 3 pt safety belts for race car drivers. Anyway, if budget is not a concern, I would buy Britax Two Way Elite carseats for both of them for your stay- available from carseat.se. (I'm really coveting that seat! I REALLY wish I could get one.) It seems as if the law in Germany is pretty lax regarding carseats, so maybe getting Canadian seats would be more frugal albeit less legal...
    the reason the HANS device was mandated was precisely bc the lack of it resulted in a death.

    And actually I would not suggest a TWE for a little one. Minimum weight is 9 kg and my daughter just about fit it in at 12m. So I wouldn't put a younger child in it even if they meet the weight minimum. But TBH as OP will not be there long term, she probably doesn't need the extended RF capabilities for the younger child anyway and that is the main benefit of the Swedish seats. If the older child is no longer RFing then I see no point in investing in a Swedish seat. Remember that she will NOT be able to use an EU seat in Canada so a purchase of an EU seat is a temporary investment at best.
    Mom to Caterina born January 12, 2009 and FF in a TWE and Julian born September 6, 2012 and RF in a Varioguard

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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    Quote Originally Posted by newyorkDOC View Post
    the reason the HANS device was mandated was precisely bc the lack of it resulted in a death.
    I wasn't suggesting that the HANS device is unneccessary! Far from it - my husband races in a single seater category where HANS is not mandatory, and I have been trying to convince him to get a HANS or Leatt for ages. He hasn't conceded...yet.

    My point was that back when these cars were designed, the belts introduced were 5 point safety belts without HANS, and not 3 point safety belts. So there must have been some testing done that the 5 point version was safer than the 3 point, despite the increased neck load?

    Back to the topic - What are OP's Canadian options? I've heard good things about the Evenflo Maestro seat (is there a Canadian version?) especially for travel, and it's relatively cheap.. so she can keep it as a spare seat even if she chooses a heavier seat for day to day use once she's back in Canada.

  20. #16
    Moderator - CPS Technician safeinthecar's Avatar
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    You are making the assumption that racetracks require 5 pt harnesses in all categories, and that's just not how it works. There are separate but equal requirements for how a 5pt vs 3pt harness must be set up for most racing. Back along time ago (uh, 20ish years) , I was racing a 99 stock T-bird at Sears Pt. Raceway. The stock 3 pts were fine and still are to this day. (Oh man how I wish I still had that car! 140 on the straight, not even trying)
    Kimberly
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    Re: Car seats in Germany

    @safeinthecar: you are so right, I was totally making that assumption! I didn't know there were categories that had 3 pt safety belts. In that case I don't really have a point about the 2.. my initial thought was just to question why 5 points were originally thought to be safer, but if 3 points were also used, then 5 points weren't infact thought to be safer after all.

    I know this is not the place, but for those of you who don't know, our former president Nelson Mandela passed away last night after months of being on life support. Really heartwrenching news. RIP.

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