UK seat belt laws

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

Not wearing a seat belt could land you with a fine of up to £500 in the UK.

When driving in the UK, it is illegal not to wear a seat belt unless:

  • You’re a driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing
  • You’re in a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services
  • You’re a passenger in a trade vehicle and you’re investigating a fault
  • You’re driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops
  • You’re a licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers

Medical exemptions

In addition to these exemptions, there are also a few medical reasons which allow you to be exempt from wearing a seat belt. Your doctor will able to confirm that you’re unable to wear a seat belt for medical reasons and will give you a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’. If you have one of these, you must:

  • Keep it in your vehicle
  • Show it to the police if you’re pulled over
  • Inform your car insurance provider

What if my car doesn’t have any seat belts?

The vast majority of cars have seat belts, but in some cases, a vehicle won’t have them fitted. This is generally only the case with classic cars.

The laws regarding cars without seat belts states that no children under 3 are allowed to travel in the vehicle, and that children over 3 must sit in the back seats. The driver and passengers are permitted not to wear a seat belt, but this law only applies if the car was originally made without seat belts.

Seat belt laws regarding children

Children must sit in an appropriate car seat for their age and height, until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall (depending which comes first). It’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure all children under 14 years old are restrained correctly in the vehicle. Questions surrounding these rules are common in the theory test so make sure you're familiar with them!

To find out more about the laws regarding child car seats at

Who’s responsible for ensuring passengers wear their seat belts?

It is not the driver’s responsibility to ensure that adult passengers are wearing their seat belts. The driver is only responsible for making sure any passengers under the age of under 14 are correctly restrained, so it will, therefore, be down to the adult passenger to pay the fine for not wearing their seat belt.

Why do I have to wear a seat belt?

Wearing a seat belt could potentially save yours and others’ lives. You should always wear your seat belt when driving or travelling in a vehicle, regardless of how far you’re going.

If you’re involved in a collision, a seat belt will stop you from being thrown through out of your seat. It’s also important to wear them when seated in the back of a vehicle, as being thrown into the back of the seat in front can injure or even kill the person in front of you.

Not wearing your seat belt may seem like a small offence, but the consequences of not wearing one can be catastrophic. Your driving instructor will always ensure you put on your seat belt as part of the cockpit drill in your driving lessons. So, make sure you buckle up each time you get in the car and, if you’re the driver, make sure it’s part of your cockpit drill.

How much is the fine for not wearing your seat belt?

If you’re caught not wearing your seat belt by the police, you could be faced with an £100 on-the-spot fine. If prosecuted for the offence, however, the maximum fine is £500.