If you rent a car, you also need a child seat
In Spain, for example, Article 117 of the General Traffic Regulations stipulates this international obligation. Child seats should be used when driving on either urban and interurban roads. This refers to cars in general so applies whether it is your own car, the car of a friend or relative, a taxi or a hire car.
Simpler still: if you rent a car, don’t you naturally assume that you also have to fasten your seat belt? Well, the same applies to child seats: if you rent a car, for example on vacation, children also have to use a child restraint system. There is no exception.
It is true that the age and height obligations applying to the use of CRS in cars may differ slightly depending on the country in which you live or are traveling in, but these criteria are gradually being unified worldwide. On this same Fundación MAPFRE page, you can consult the regulations of each country in the section on Legislation.
And even if it were not mandatory by law, remember that children are far more protected when traveling in cars if they do so in a child seat. There is no longer the slightest doubt about this fact, as it has been more than proven by statistics and crash tests.
What should you do then? Two things. The first is to travel with your child seat; in other words, fold up the one you use in your car and take it with you on the trip. It’s a bit cumbersome, but this is usually the most economical option. If you’re traveling by plane, it’s important that you wrap the seat in protective packaging to avoid any damage during loading and unloading processes.
The second option is to rent a child seat suitable for your child when you hire a vehicle at the rental agency itself. This alternative is more convenient, since you don’t have to travel with the seat, but it can also be somewhat more expensive, especially for longer car hire contracts.
Whatever the case, car hire agencies understand the necessity and the obligation for child restraint systems and try to keep their rates reasonable. These systems are usually charged by the day, but there is often a maximum so that it is not too expensive (generally the cost of a week, so that even if you are hiring the car for two weeks, you will only be charged one week for the child seat).
A small drawback of renting a child seat, but pretty unlikely so there is no need to worry too much, is that the child may miss its regular seat and refuse to use it in the same way as its own. This does not have to be a major problem.
If you approach it as a game – for example, to find out what are the differences and similarities are with the child’s own chair, especially if you explain that deep down it is very similar to yours, explaining all the different parts and that it also has a harness to fasten it so the child will be safer and more comfortable – they are almost certain to understand and accept it.
One last tip: it’s important to be sure to book the car and the child seat well in advance. As this feature does not come with every car, there may be limited units in the office where you pick up the car, and it also means they will deliver the car with the seat already correctly installed.