Car Seats in Italy – Your Complete Guide to Safe Family Travel on Italian Roads

How to decide whether to bring your car seat to Italy or rent or buy one here; how to install car seats in Italy; European and Italian car seat laws and standards; and all of your Italy car seat questions answered!

If you’re planning on visiting in Italy with small children, you’ve probably thought about car seats…

Should you bring one on the plane?

Do you need one for your child in your rental car?

Will your car seat fit in an Italian car?

Should you rent (or even buy) a car seat in Italy?

I’m a traveling mom of three small boys and I know how important it is to make sure our little ones are safe while traveling in a car.  I know how confusing and overwhelming car seats in other countries can be.  I’ve also seen some inaccurate information online and I want to give you up-to-date info from Italy. 

Why listen to me? 

  • I live here
  • I drive throughout the country year-round
  • I help other families visit Italy and give them information to help them decide
  • I communicate with law enforcement on the ground. 

This article will help you by giving you all the information you need to make informed and safe decisions about car seats on your trip to Italy. 

Good To Know:  I’ve written this article using the official Italian laws regarding car seats and driving with children in Italy.  Please always check the up-to-date legal information in article 172 of the Italian road code (Italian) or check out a helpful guide on the Italian Automobile Club’s website (English).  You can also check with the car rental agency when you make your booking or pick up your rental car.

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Do You Need a Car Seat for Your Trip to Italy?

Depending on the height and age of your child, what you’ll be doing, and how you’ll be traveling around Italy, you may or may not need to use a car seat.

In Italy, children under 150cm (59.05 in) must use the appropriate car seat or booster seat for their height or weight (article 172 of the Italian road code – codice della strada).

Note:  Many websites also say children must use car seats until they are 12 years old or 36kg.  These are not legal requirements in Italy. 

There are exceptions:

  • If you’re traveling in a taxi or with a private driver, you are not legally required to use a car seat. 
  • If you’re traveling by public transport (trains, buses), you are not legally required to use a car seat. 

You may want to bring or purchase a car seat for your trip to Italy if:

  • You’ve purchased a separate seat for your baby on your international flight
  • You’re traveling around Italy in a rental car
  • You’ve got a long transfer with a private driver

You may not need a child car seat in Italy if:

  • You plan on traveling around Italy by train
  • The only vehicle you’ll be traveling in is a taxi
  • Your child exceeds the Italian legal requirements

IMPORTANT:  While sometimes car seat use is legally required (for example, a toddler traveling in a rental car), other times it depends on your personal comfort level (for example, a baby riding in a taxi).  Don’t feel pressured to go without a car seat just because you don’t need one.  If you want to use one, use it!

Your Car Seat Options in Italy

If you decide you need a car seat for your child during your trip to Italy, you can:

  1. Rent a car seat from the car rental company
  2. Bring your own car seat from your home country
  3. Buy a car seat in Italy
  4. Use a private driver (NCC) that provides car seats
  5. Rent a car seat from an Italian baby supply store

Each option has legal and/or logistical issues to be aware of.

Car Seat Option #1 – Rent a Car Seat from the Car Rental Company

There are pluses and minuses to renting a car seat in Italy from the rental car company:

Advantages:

  • Convenience – You don’t have to travel with your car seat to/from and around Italy. 
  • You don’t have to worry about how your car seat is treated as checked baggage.

Disadvantages:

  • If you use the car rental car seat, you don’t know its history (if it’s been in an accident, if it’s been left out in the sun, hygiene standards, etc).
  • Your child may not be comfortable in the rental car seat because it’s not what your child is used to.
  • You may show up and receive the incorrect car seat or they may not have one.  Unfortunately, even if you have the car seat rental in writing and you reserved it months ago, you’ll likely get an “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

Good To Know:  Book in advance if you decide to use a car seat from the car rental agency – the number of car seats can be limited, especially in smaller agencies.

What To Do:  If you arrive at the car rental office and you’re not satisfied with the car seat, the best thing to do is have someone in your party take a taxi to a baby store and buy a seat.  The taxi driver will know of a place or can look one up.  More buying options below.

Car Seat Option #2 – Bring Your Own Car Seat from Home

Advantages:

  • Your child knows the seat and is comfortable in it.
  • You know the history of the car seat (accidents, hygiene, etc).

Disadvantages:

  • You’ll need to cart it around Italy when you’re not in a vehicle.  This isn’t a big deal if you’ll be in a rental car for your entire trip, but if you’ll be using various modes of transport (trains, private drivers, etc), it can be a pain to transport it.
  • If you check your car seat (vs. using it on the plane), you don’t know how the baggage handlers treat it.
  • It’s not legal to use a non-EU certified car seat in Italy.

Good To Know:  If you are flying to Italy with an infant and have purchased a separate seat for him/her, you can use the car seat on the plane (as long as it’s FAA-approved).  If you decide to check your car seat, make sure you put it in a protective bag.

Important in 2022:  With the airline staff shortages, a lot of luggage isn’t making it to its final destination.  If you’re bringing a car seat with you, try to bring it on the plane (vs checked baggage) so you know it makes it!

Good To Know:  Italian cars are much narrower than US cars, so if you’ll be using more than one car seat, make sure you look up the car’s backseat measurements to ensure they’ll fit.  Our family has three car seats in the rear seat and I can tell you there are very few cars in Italy that can fit three across.

Car Seat Option #3 – Buy a Car Seat in Italy

What if:

  • you don’t want to bring your car seat to Italy?
  • you’re uncomfortable not knowing the history of the car rental company’s seats?
  • you don’t want your baby to ride in a taxi without a car seat?
  • you pick up your rental car and the car seat is unacceptable?

You can always buy a car seat in Italy.

There are a few options for purchasing a car seat in Italy:

Order a Car Seat Online and Have it Delivered to an Italian Address

You can order from Amazon.it and have it shipped to your hotel, agriturismo, or apartment.  Amazon Italy has the best selection and the best prices.  You can also order online from Italian baby stores like Prenatal, Chicco, IperBimbo, Bimbostore.

Buy a Car Seat in a Baby Store

Throughout Italy, in larger towns and cities, you’ll find baby stores with baby clothing, supplies, and equipment.  While most online Italian baby stores also have a physical store, some only have physical stores.  IoBimbo, Prenatal, Chicco, and other local baby stores carry car seats.

You can find these smaller local baby stores by searching Google for ‘negozio seggiolino auto’ + your location.  Or, ask your hotel concierge or a mamma that you see out and about!

Important:  Always check the car seat’s date.  Sometimes the turnover in Italian stores is slow.  You don’t want to purchase a brand new or used expired car seat!

Buy a Car Seat from an Online Marketplace

Here in Italy, we have Facebook Marketplace and Subito.it, and they both have used car seats for sale.  Remember that you won’t be able to know the history of the used car seat – if it’s been in an accident, left out in the sun, etc.

Good To Know:  If you purchase a car seat in Italy for your travels but don’t feel like bringing it home, there are plenty of moms here who would be happy to take it off your hands!  Check with the hotel reception or someone at your accommodation – they’ll have the inside scoop on which local organizations could use the donation.

Popular Car Seat Brands in Italy

If you’re shopping for a car seat in Italy, you’ll find these common and trusted brands in shops:

  • Bebe Confort
  • Brevi
  • Britax
  • Chicco
  • Cybex
  • Foppapedretti
  • Graco
  • Hauck
  • Inglesina
  • Maxi-Cosi
  • Nuna
  • Peg Perego

Our family has been happiest with Chicco, Cybex, and Graco car seats. 

Car Seat Option #4 – Use a Private Driver (NCC) that Provides Car Seats

Not all private drivers (called NCC in Italy – noleggio con conducente) will provide a car seat.  You must inquire and reserve it when you make your reservation. 

The best way to find a reputable NCC is to ask your accommodation who they recommend.  If you need to look on your own, you can search online “NCC [LOCATION] seggiolino auto.”  So, if you’re staying in Verona, you can search “NCC Verona seggiolino auto” and you’ll get search results of private drivers in the Verona area that offer private transfers with car seats.

Car Seat Option #4 – Rent a Car Seat from an Italian Baby Supply Store

Another option is to rent a car seat from a shop in Italy.  The disadvantages are similar to renting through the car rental agency – you don’t know the history of the car seat (accidents, hygiene, etc), and you don’t know if your child will be comfortable in it. 

But, this is a great option if you’ll just need it for part of your trip, as you can rent it for a few days, drop it off, then continue on your trip using trains or other transport. 

The two “major” companies are MammaMamma.it and Parti Bimbo Party.  Unfortunately, the sites are in Italian, but you can communicate in English via the contact forms.  They don’t rent throughout Italy, but they do cover quite a bit of ground.

I have had a couple of visiting clients use Babonbo for baby equipment rentals and they were happy with the service (it’s also in English, which is a bonus!). 

You can also contact your accommodation, especially if you’re staying in an agriturismo or villa, as they often have baby rental contacts for baby cribs, etc.

European (and Italian) Car Seat Systems

If you need to (or want to) use a car seat in Italy, you must use one of two main European car seat systems: ECE R44-04 or ECE R129 (also called i-Size).

What does this mean?  Basically, in Italy, you must choose your child’s car seat based on HEIGHT or WEIGHT.

Italy follows European regulations ECE R44-04 (based on the child’s weight) and ECE R129 i-Size (based on the child’s height).   As a parent or guardian, you must choose one of the systems.  Car seats used in Italy are required to have either the orange ECE R44 label or the orange ECE R129 label. 

Again, you get to decide if you want to fit your child in a car seat based on his/her height (ECE R44) or weight (ECE R129).

Maxi-Cosi does a great job of explaining the difference between ECE R44 and ECE R129 (i-Size).  i-Size is considered safer for a few reasons, including better head and neck protection, and required ISOFIX use.  i-Size will likely become the standard, but for now, you can choose either system.

Good To Know:  The current iteration of the ECE R44 car seat is ECE R44-04 (you’ll see that on the orange car seat label).  ECE R44-03 is also still legal, but -02 and -01 cannot be used or sold any longer.

ECE R44-04 Weight-based System

ECE R44/04 orange car seat label on a car seat in Italy.

Car seats are divided into 5 categories (groups) based on weight:

GroupType of SeatWeight limit
0bassinet (navicella)up to 10kg
0+car seat (ovetto)up to 13kg
1car seat (seggiolino auto)9-18kg
2booster seat (rialzo)15-25kg
3booster seat (rialzo)22-36kg

Important:  If you use an ECE R44 i-Size car seat, your baby should travel rear-facing until he/she is about 9 months old.

ECE R129 (i-Size) Height-based System

Approximate Age RangeGroupHeight range
Newborn to 15 or 18 monthsi-Size babyNewborn to 85cm
Newborn to 4 yearsi-Size baby and toddlerNewborn to 105cm
15 months to 4 yearsi-Size toddler and child61-105cm
4 years to 12 yearsi-Size child100-135cm

Important:  If you use an ECE R129 i-Size car seat, your baby must travel rear-facing until he/she is 15 months old.

Orange Tags on EU-Approved Car Seats

All car seats in Italy (ECE R44 or ECE R129) are legally required to have an orange tag.

ECE R44/04 label on an Italian infant car seat base with a close up of the label.
ECE R44/04 label on an Italian infant car seat base

The main things the orange tag tells you:

  • The seat’s certification (ECE R44 or ECE R129 i-Size)
  • the child’s maximum weight (in kilograms)
  • if it’s Universal (can be used in all types of vehicles, or only specific makes and models)
  • if it’s approved by the European Union (e) or the United Nations (E)
  • which country approved it (Italy is 3)
  • approval code
  • serial number

If you bring your own car seat, you’ll also need to verify that it satisfies Italy’s legal requirements.  Car seats from the US are not EU-approved, so they can’t legally be used in Italy. 

I know what you’re thinking… why would I bring my car seat on the plane if I can’t use it in Italy?  Your US car seat can physically be installed in an Italian car, but it’s not legally allowed.  It’s up to you to decide if you want to use your US car seat or an EU car seat (I see parents doing both).

While US and EU car seats are almost identical, they go through different safety testing and there is one notable physical difference: chest clips, which are common in many countries, are illegal in Italy. The reasoning behind it is that having only one clip to undo in an emergency makes it easier to get the child out of the car seat and vehicle in one motion.

Side by side photos of car seats with chest clip (USA) and no chest clip (Italy).

Booster Seats with Backs vs. Backless Booster Seats

A January 2017 update to the ECE R44/04 law requires children under 125cm who use a booster seat to use one with a back (schienale).  Once a child reaches 125cm, he/she can use a backless booster seat.

Booster seats manufactured up to January 2017 can still be bought, sold, and used.  So, for example, your 120cm child cannot use a backless booster manufactured in March 2022.

What are Car Seats Called in Italy?

An infant car seat sitting on a terracotta floor.
An infant car seat, or ovetto in Italian

The generic name for a car seat in Italy is a seggiolino auto, but we have different names for specific styles of car seats:

Ovetto – the ‘little egg’ is the infant car seat that newborns and small babies fit in

Seggiolino auto – the typical car seat; can be installed forward or rear-facing

Rialzo / alzatina / booster – the booster seat can have armrests (braccioli) and/or a backrest (schienale)

You might also hear:

Navicella – the ‘little ship’ is a bassinet that technically can be put in a car but you wouldn’t want to travel around with it.  You can’t rent this style of car seat from the car rental company.

Car Seats in Italy – Anti-Abandonment Devices

If you’re planning on using a car seat in Italy, you’ll also need an anti-abandonment device for any child under four years old.

These devices (aka ‘car seat alarms’) are part of the car seat or are a small cushion put in or under the car seat. They have an alarm that sounds if you accidentally leave your small child in the car. 

In order to prevent hot car deaths and other accidents, these depositivi anti-abbandono (anti-abandonment devices) are now required in Italy for all children under 4 years old if the car is registered in Italy or a foreign-registered vehicle is driven by a resident Italian. So, if you’re a UK resident driving your UK car here on holiday, the device isn’t required by law.  If you’re an American renting an Italian car while on vacation here, you’re required to use one.

Many car rental companies will provide one with the rental of a car seat. Otherwise, you can bring your own or buy one in Italy.

Some newer car seats include them as part of the carseat.

This is the one we use: Tippy (Amazon.it).

Installing Your Car Seat in Italy

LATCH vs ISOFIX

If you’re coming from the United States, you’ve probably got a car seat that uses the LATCH system.  In Italy, we have a compatible system called ISOFIX. 

Even though the LATCH system is compatible with Italy’s ISOFIX system, not all cars here have top tethers. If your car seat requires a top tether, confirm that your rental car is compatible.

Front or Back Seat

If the car seat is installed rear-facing in the front passenger seat, the airbag must be disabled.

Using a Lockoff

If you’re using the seatbelt to install your car seat, you need to make sure the car seat stays tight.  You can read about lockoffs here.

Do I need a Car Seat in an Italian Taxi?

Legally, you don’t need a car seat for your small child while you’re in a taxi in Italy, as long as the child is in the back seat and is accompanied by a responsible person age 16 or older.

Do I need a Car Seat if We Use a Private Driver?

In Italy, a vehicle with a private driver is called an NCC – ­noleggio con conducente.  If you’re traveling with a private driver, you aren’t required by law to have a car seat.  As with a taxi, the child can sit in the back seat accompanied by someone 16 or older. 

But, if you’re using a private driver, you’ll likely be traveling on main roads, highways, or the Autostrada.  Would you let your small child travel on the freeway at home without a car seat?

Using a Car Seat on Your Flight to Italy or Within Italy

You shouldn’t have any problems using your FAA-approved car seat on a flight from the US to Italy.  Make sure you’ve booked a window seat for the car seat (you can’t block others from exiting to the aisle for safety reasons).

If you’re planning on using your car seat on a flight inside Italy, make sure the dimensions are small enough that it will fit in the airline seat. 

Good To Know:  Want to be safe but don’t want to bring the car seat?  Or, do you have multiple kids who need car seats (and can’t carry them all onto the plane)?   Look into the CARES Kids Fly Safe Harness.  Kids from 22-44 lbs can use it as long as they can sit upright on their own.  It attaches to the seat and keeps them buckled in.  We’ve used it with all three of our little ones – on quick intra-Europe flights and 11-hour transcontinental flights!

Mom sitting next to child who is using the CARES Kids Fly Safe Harness on a flight.
Using the CARES harness on a flight to Italy.

Enforcement of Car Seat Laws in Italy

If you’ve been to Italy, you’ve likely seen children traveling in cars without car seats, babies being held in laps in the front seat, and small children practically hanging out car windows. 

From my experience, many Italian drivers do not use car seats, and car seat laws are not often enforced in Italy.

But, our family abides by all of the rules for safety reasons, and I’m guessing if you’ve read through this article, you’re concerned about safety too.

While Italian car seat laws are not strictly enforced, the fines can be high.  For example, if you don’t use a car seat, the parent (or adult in the vehicle in charge of the child) can be fined from 83€ – 330€

Important:  Like in the US, if you get in a car accident and you are using the wrong car seat or it’s not installed properly, you will lose your rights to the insurance claim.  Not to mention your child could be injured.

What if I Really Don’t Want to Use a Car Seat in Italy?

If your child is required by law to use a car seat in Italy, well… it’s the law.

If you really don’t want to deal with car seats in Italy, your options are to:

  • use public transport (planes, buses, trains, trams, subways).  This is actually really easy to do while visiting Italy, unless you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the countryside.
  • travel with a private driver or taxi.  This is common for quick trips in larger cities – you’ll see kids in the back of cabs or parents holding babies on laps. 
  • stay in one place.  Take public transport to a city or a villa somewhere and make that your base for your trip so you don’t need to move anywhere by vehicle.
  • Wait and visit Italy when your child is tall enough and old enough to ride in the car without a car seat.

I’ve just given you a ton of info – hopefully it’s helped you make a decision on what to do about a car seat in Italy.  I know it’s not an easy decision to make. Safe travels and have a great trip!

FAQ

Can I use an American car seat in Italy?
While you can physically install your American car seat in Italy, it will not satisfy the EU legal requirements (ECE R44/04 or ECE R129 i-Size).

Do you need car seats in taxis in Italy?
Car seats are not required in taxis in Italy.

Do taxis in Italy have car seats?
Taxis in Italy do not have car seats.  If you’re traveling in an Italian taxi, you can use the taxi’s seatbelts, hold your baby, or use your own car seat.  If you don’t feel comfortable traveling in a taxi without a car seat, you can hire a private driver (or NCC, noleggio con conducente) that has a car seat.

Can my small child travel in a classic (historic) car that doesn’t have seatbelts?
If your child is less than three years old, he/she can’t travel in the car.  Children three and up can travel in the back seat without a car seat.  Any child over 1.5 meters can travel in the front seat (using a seat belt).

Can a small child ride on a motorcycle in Italy?
A child age 5 or older can ride on a motorcycle with an EU-approved helmet and if he/she can balance comfortably and safely on the seat.

Can I use a BubbleBum in Italy?
BubbleBum inflatable booster seats can be legally used in Italy.