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  1. #1
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    Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Just read here that you can't use American car seats in Europe.

    Is this if you're living there, or does it apply to visiting as well?

    I'm thinking I should just buy a European car seat, because my family lives there and we will be visiting multiple times over the next few years.

    So: which European car seat would be the best one for us? I'd like it to last a few years (daughter is 10 months old, but very large for her age), but be easy to use on a plane too.

    Thanks for any recommendations!

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  3. #2
    CPS Fanatic bubbaray's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    I would ask Adventuredad. He owns carseat.se
    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

  4. #3
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Thanks. I just joined so I don't know who he is or how to tag him in this post, but I guess I'll figure it out.

  5. #4
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    You're certainly welcome to send private messages to individual users, but we actually prefer when people ask and answer questions (as you've done!) in the public forums so other people can weigh in and benefit from the answers as well. We have several members here knowledgable about European seats, so hopefully some of them will be along to answer your questions.

    It's not legal to use American seats in Europe, nor is it legal to use European seats in the U.S. (although the odds of getting caught are slim, and the odds of being sited for if are even slimmer). If you plan to travel often to visit family, it might make sense to buy seats to keep in Europe for when you're there, and purchase lightweight American seats for use on the plane on the way over.

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  7. #5
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Quote Originally Posted by LISmama810 View Post
    You're certainly welcome to send private messages to individual users, but we actually prefer when people ask and answer questions (as you've done!) in the public forums so other people can weigh in and benefit from the answers as well. We have several members here knowledgable about European seats, so hopefully some of them will be along to answer your questions.

    It's not legal to use American seats in Europe, nor is it legal to use European seats in the U.S. (although the odds of getting caught are slim, and the odds of being sited for if are even slimmer). If you plan to travel often to visit family, it might make sense to buy seats to keep in Europe for when you're there, and purchase lightweight American seats for use on the plane on the way over.
    Thanks, Jennie! Hopefully someone can recommend something specific. Thanks for confirming the regulations. Yeah, it's unlikely anyone would get caught, but given that I'll be renting a car in Spain, I'm guessing the odds would increase (I think rental cars have license plates designating them as such).

    Looking at the cost of car seats in Europe, I don't know that it makes sense to *also* buy a second US carseat that I can use on the plane. Suddenly I'd be spending close to $800!

    But I have to figure something out, and soon. Thanks again for your response.

    ***

    On a semi-related note: Seems to me that there's a market for buying car seats at major airports too, no? If you have to gatecheck your seat and it arrives damaged, how do you get from the airport with your kid?

  8. #6
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    Sometimes one person in the party will take a cab or the rental car to a baby store to get a seat while the other person stays at the airport with the baby. I'm not sure how often that happens since it seems kind of impractical, but what else can you do? (Actually, at least in the U.S. you can usually rent seats from the rental car place, although that's not advised.)

    Some people will say there's no benefit to taking a car seat on the plane and that gate-checking it is fine. From a safety standpoint, flying (even without a car seat) is extremely safe, but there are incidents (not just crashes, but turbulence or rough landings) where they can come in handy. Plus, checking the seat means there's a possibility it can get lost or damaged, leaving you without one at your destination. There's also a comfort factor. Kids tend to do better in a familiar seat than when they have the freedom to climb all over the plane or their parents Using a seat on the plane does require purchasing a ticket for the child, of course, and European (and other foreign) airlines can have different regulations that U.S. carriers, which allow car seat usage as long as a ticket has been purchased.

    You could get a decent travel seat (American) for less than $100. Depending on how much it would cost to ship a European seat here (presuming you wanted it ahead of time to take with you), it might be cheaper to do that, and then have your family pick up a European seat to use there. You could use the American seat in the rental car until you got to whoever purchased the euro seat for you. (Again, that technically wouldn't be legal, but I can't imagine a law enforcement officer anywhere actually ticketing parents on vacation using a foreign seat just to get to the domestic seat they'd purchased.)

    I'm not one of the European experts, though, so like I said, hopefully someone else can give you some more concrete advice.

  9. #7
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Yeah, I guess if you're flying with another adult, one of you can find a baby store. As you say, though, that's a bit extreme (if unlikely).

    My situation this trip is a little different. I'll be flying solo with baby. Stopping off in London for a few days (need car seat to/from airport, but that's the only time in London) then flying to Spain where we'll be for two weeks. So even if I asked my mum to buy a car seat in Spain, it doesn't solve the problem of getting to and from the airport in London.

    I like your idea of getting a cheap US car seat, but sadly they all seem to be too big for BA's stingy 17" x 17" requirements. Meanwhile, that's a second car seat I'd be lugging around, no?

    I'm thinking I will probably have her fly in BA's car seat (and have a CARES harness as a back up) to London. Hope my cousin can collect us at Heathrow with our (as yet unbought) British car seat that I would have shipped to her home.

    From there I'd be golden. Sort of.

    I just have to find a European car seat that BA will accept in the main cabin (I'd rather not gate check it for all the reasons you mention and more).

    I see a bunch of people recommend the Britax 2-Way Elite but it's not for sale on Britax's UK website. Gah!

    I feel like this is so much more bloody complicated than it needs to be. Maybe I'm going about it wrong??

  10. #8
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Many seats (and specifically, the super light, super small, easy to haul and install, Scenera NEXT that I'm thinking will be nice for travel) will fit fine in even teeny airplane seats, don't let that listed limit worry you overmuch.
    Julie
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Quote Originally Posted by joolsplus3 View Post
    Many seats (and specifically, the super light, super small, easy to haul and install, Scenera NEXT that I'm thinking will be nice for travel) will fit fine in even teeny airplane seats, don't let that listed limit worry you overmuch.
    You may be right about the plane limitations -- but that doesn't fix the issue of a U.S. car seat not being legal to use in Europe

  12. #10
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Yeah, I'm leaving that challenge up to you (I was recently in Italy, loved some of the Chiccos, but seats can vary so much from country to country! Mind boggling!) Good luck finding a seat you can use over there relatively full time for a few years!
    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  13. #11
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    Take this for what it's worth--and I only speak for myself here--but if I were to go overseas with my kids, I would just take and use their regular US seats. Yes, technically it would be illegal, but I would really hope that if I got pulled over, the officer would be understanding of the fact that I'm a tourist and using seats for my kids at all. There's no way I'd pay hundreds of dollars for car seats I'd use for a week.

    Now, if you have family over there and would be going often (or staying for an extended period of time), it probably does make sense to get one, but I wouldn't worry about two days in London. Not that I'm telling you to break the law. But I can guarantee most U.S. tourists aren't buying British seats to use for two days.

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  15. #12
    Carseat Crazy biddyk8's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Not Spain but we do go to the UK and Ireland to visit family generally once a year or so. We use our Canadian seats while we are there. Never had anything said to us at all. It was easier for us than us trying to find an extended rfing seat there at the time. Now for our next trip DD is over 40lbs so in UK seats she has maxed out all harnesses apart from a few Swedish imports so she would be in a booster. No way she's only 3 so she will be going in her Canadian seat again this trip.

    It is a personal risk but to me the chances of being cited when there for a vacation is so slim that I will take the risk.
    T - Mar/2012- 45lbs 42" FFing in a Pioneer
    A Dec/2015 Keyfit 30

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  17. #13
    Senior Community Member SuzaBanana's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    We've been going to Europe with our kids since 2009 and bring our US seats and use them with no issues. The majority of Europe (with the exception of Sweden) has less stringent car seat rules than the US. Our kids are in seats far longer than any of our European friends and family. As a visitor, I have zero issues with bringing my own seat and claiming ignorance if you have an issue. I've never been questioned and have been through dozens of border checks with my kids in US seats.
    integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching

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  19. #14
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    I appreciate all the answers of your experiences!

    Have those of you who have used US car seats in Europe done so in a rental car or a personal car (owned by friend or family)?

    Our current car seat is a Chicco NextFit, which British Airways says is too big for the main cabin. So I'm sort of stuck with not being able to use the car seat I already own. My MIL has an Evenflo that I can borrow; my SIL has a Diono (but that's too big to lug around the airport, and who knows if it will even fit a smaller Spanish car).

    That's why I thought if I have to pay for a new car seat, I thought I would just get a European one. It would suck to have to pay $100s, but I also don't know what the penalty is for not using a legal car seat. And, worst case scenario, if I were involved in an accident, would an illegal car seat render the insurance policy invalid?

    I'll be driving in Spain for two weeks, so maybe £220 is worth the peace of mind...

    I haven't seen the Evenflo. Will it even attach with ISOfix?

    Have any of you used ISOfix in Europe and can compare it to LATCH?

    Thanks!!

  20. #15
    Carseat Crazy biddyk8's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    I've used our seats in rentals and family cars. Used latch in rentals, fits the exact same as here. Isofix is just a different name for it. We use a evenflo sure ride as our current travel seat. Which I have used forward facing on a BA plane, so it does fit.

    The sure ride has fit in every rental we have had, even rearfacing in my sisters c2 which is a very compact car.
    T - Mar/2012- 45lbs 42" FFing in a Pioneer
    A Dec/2015 Keyfit 30

  21. #16
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Given your needs and the fact that biddyk8 has used it, I would get a Sureride as a travel seat. Or get a Scenera NEXT, which won't last as long, but is cheaper and more compact.

    In the scenario where a cop sees you, or you have an accident: cops do not know car seats. I "illegally" use a Swedish car seat in the U.S., for a kid I could easily switch to a U.S. car seat from the basement. I didn't (and wouldn't) get it for him--there are US seats that could easily rear face him to 6--but I have it and he wants to use it. In general, cops know how to tell if a kid is in a car seat that is at least vaguely age/size appropriate, and they can see whether the car seat is buckled. Beyond that, they won't check. I don't have specific experience in Spain, but police have so many other things to be worried about, and most wouldn't know how to tell if a car seat meets the regulations of their country or not.

    If you're in an accident, insurance *might* not pay for a new car seat if the crashed one wasn't legal in the country where the accident happened. But by my calculations, you'd spend less or a similar amount in that scenario as you would if you tried to swap car seats right when you get there.

  22. #17
    Senior Community Member SuzaBanana's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    We have mostly used rentals, but occasionally a family member's car. IsoFix is the same as LATCH, but there are still LOTS of cars in Europe that don't have it. For whatever seat you end up with over there, bring a locking clip and get good at using it. Taxis in particular seemed to lack IsoFix/LATCH, although I haven't had to install a car seat in a London cab. We had a lack of IsoFix in German and Italian cabs.

    We are a 1 car family and still found it helpful to have a spare seat for our kids that also were our travel seats. Not even 2 weeks ago we came back from our most recent trip to Europe (flew into Germany, spent time in Italy, Slovenia & Croatia) and it was our first trip not lugging around 2 large seats. It was so nice to have our oldest in a Bubble Bum booster and our 4 year old in an RSTV - which is something that looks completely weird and foreign. No one batted an eyelash. In most of the world, as long as your kid is restrained in something it's considered far better than the average.
    integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching

  23. #18
    Senior Community Member Adventuredad's Avatar
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    US car seats are not allowed to be used in Europe. It doesn't matter if it's for a single day as a tourist or for a longer time as a resident. No one will notice if you use your US seat though. Especially not in Spain where car seat habits are very poor.

    Planning ahead for car seat safety during a trip is great and I wish more parents did this. Traffic is the number one killer of kids in most places. Using a car seat on the aircraft is irrelevant for safety and we have tons of data to back this up.

    Even though it's technically not allowed to use a foreign car seats in Europe it can still be a great idea. Familiar installation and a car seat which a child is used to. Since you will be visiting many times it might be a better option in your case to purchase and leave a seat in Europe.

    Since the very beginning I have placed car seats at places where we often vacation. We have seats in Mexico and also at our summer residence in Sweden. At both places we spend in total at least five months a year. First it was rear facing seats and nowadays high back boosters and low back boosters.

    If you will be purchasing a European car seat the two best all-round seats in the world are Britax Hi-Way and Britax Max-Way. Both are light weight, compact, have the 55 lbs rear facing weight limit, have passed the ultra strict Swedish Plus Test to 55 lbs and also fit well in pretty much any car small to large.

    HW will last to around age four or 110 cm, MW to age five or 115-120 cm. MW is kind of an upgrades HW with a bult in head support, integrated harness and a little taller seat sell. HW is the most compact rear facing seat with belt installation but MW only need a few centimeters more space.

    When my kids were young we always brought two HW seats all over the world. Lots of trips to US, Mexico and all over Europe. We did 60+ flights in the first few years and the seats fit well in all kinds of vehicles. Limos, taxis, rentals, vans, friends cars, etc. Always checked separately in car seat bags with bubble wrap, diapers and extra clothing as protection. Never had a problem.

    EU cars must all have Isofix from 2013 but it's of course possible you get a rental which is older. LATCH is compatible with Isofix. The LATCH solution is unfortunately not very good and too many compromises had to be made in the US version. The rigid Isofix with a support leg is easier to use.

    There are a couple of seats, Kiss 2 and Triofix Recline, which can be installed with Isofix or seat belt. This means far faster installation but also the lower 40 lbs rear facing weight limit and higher prices. These seats will also fit in pretty much any car but the downside is the higher weight. These weigh 30+ lbs compared to less than 15 lbs for HW and MW. Not fun to carry around an Isofix seat.

    Overall you will find that other mentioned above that car seat habits in Spain are very poor. Similar to US. Lost of unrestrained kids and basically no rear facing. Same general trend occur in Europe as in US. The further south one travels the worse habits get.

    Just noticed that you will also need a seat in UK. Is it possible to take the train or public transportation? This will greatly simplify things and also keep it safe.

    Don't worry about traveling alone with a child. It's no worry at all. I have done tons of trips alone, 20+ hours across the world, with two small kids. Select a night flight if possible, I also prefer the bulk head seats with more space, have plenty of change and diapers in the carry on and also of course something that keeps your baby calm. And bring some extra food along to go along with the breastfeeding (if applicable).

    Enjoy your trip and the great Spanish food:-)
    Annika: 8 • Britax Adventure
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  24. #19
    Saranneman
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    Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    Hi,

    sorry if I'm hijacking this post but it seems extremely relevant for our current situation.
    We are from Belgium and moved to the U.S. 4 weeks ago. We're expecting our first baby beginning of November, so we started looking for car seats (and strollers).
    I read the article mentioned in the original post about the US car seats that can't be used in European cars. If I'm correct it seems that the US regulations are more strict than the European ones? Also, after reading the comments, it seems that no police officer should make a problem of me using a US car seat in a European car? So, yes, it is illegal to use a U.S. car seat in Europe, but is there also a technical reason: can a US car seat be properly secured in a European car?
    We are planning to stay in the US for 2-3 years, and then go back to Belgium. We don't own a car in Belgium, so once we're back in Belgium, we have to buy a new one anyway.

    So originally I thought to buy an infant car seat + stroller system here in the U.S. and move it along to Belgium within 2-3 years, that then can be used for a couple of more years and following babies in Belgium. But now I'm doubting if I should maybe buy a used car seat here in the U.S. (I know this is not recommended) and then buy a new European one once back in Belgium?

    Any advice?

  25. #20
    Senior Community Member SuzaBanana's Avatar
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    Canada Re: Can't use US car seat in Europe??

    You can properly secure a US car seat in a European car - that is no problem. ISOfix functions the same as LATCH and seatbelts can secure any car seat provided they lock or you have a locking clip.

    In your position, I'd get a new seat for use in the US and re-evaluate when you are getting ready to move back.
    integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching

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