Do you need a car seat in Cuba? Car seat use in Cuba is not common and is not required by law. Bring your own baby or toddler seat, if you plan on using one.
Whether or not your family wants to bring a car seat depends a lot on your destination. Other factors include your methods of travel once in the country and your risk tolerance and comfort levels. One thing for sure, you will need to bring your own child safety seat if want one. It will be difficult to impossible to find one in Cuba.
Do I need to bring a car seat while travelling is a common question asked by families everywhere, who travel with young kids. We ask this question too before every trip and do a lot of research to inform our personal family travel decisions and destinations.
People have very strong opinions. There can be much debate about the ins and outs of their use; rear facing versus forward facing, when to move from one stage car seat to the next, and which is the best car / booster / infant seat etc.
I think we can all agree that using a car seat is the safest option.
But what if you are traveling to an international destination such as Cuba where the use of car seats is not common nor required by law?
It can be confusing to know whether or not to bring a car seat and what options are available. I’ve tried to provide some essential Cuba travel tips and simplify what you need to know about car seats in Cuba. I have also as provided some general tips which can be useful for any international destination as well.
Planning & Research
Whether or not to bring a car seat is a personal family decision, that takes into consideration your needs, and risk tolerance. There is no simple solution for every family. That said, there are some considerations that will help you decide what is best for your family.
The root of all successful vacations with kids is research & planning (at least in my world). Followed by a lot of going with the flow once I am there.
I don’t like to be surprised by the unexpected when it comes to accommodations, transportation or my families safety. Therefore I tend to do more research about these topics before we go.
Figuring out what type of vacation and activities you want to be doing will help inform your decision.
Look into Car Seat Requirements
Before booking your vacation look into the the rules and norms of car seat use in that country. Each country has their regulations. The most recent WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety noted that only 84 countries had a national child restraint law. Of these, only 33 countries meet overall best practice criteria.
If car seat use is not common, it may be difficult to rent, or install one safely in the available methods of transportation. Seat belts may not automatically lock, and cars may not be compatible with the LATCH system common in newer cars in Canada, US and Europe.
Cuba Travel Tips: Car Seats
In Cuba, as car seats are uncommon, you will see kids on their parents laps in the back seat of cars.
Many regular and classic car taxis do not even have seat belts. For taxis which do have seatbelts, there is no guarantee these will automatically lock. Nor will the taxi likely have a tether option due to the age and make of the cars.
I have also heard that renting or buying a car seat in Cuba is next to impossible. So if you do want to use a child safety seat, bring one with you!
What Type Of Activities Will You Be Doing in Cuba?
Logistics are important. What types of activities are you planning to do? Will you be doing lots of intercity travel? Will you be doing day trips or tours? Do you plan to only hang out at your resort and the beach?
The activities you plan on doing while on vacation and your method of transportation to get there, will really guide whether or not a car seat is practical.
If you and your family are only planning on spending time at a resort in Cuba, with a coach bus pick-up from the airport, then you will likely not need to bring one.
If you are planning on doing a lot of day trips or tours, and want to bring a child restraint along:
- Look into tour companies which offer vans or cars for transportation
- Email any questions you may have before booking
- Confirm availability of car seat compatible touring options
A note of caution, there are no guarantees when travelling, and Cuba is no exception. You may find despite assurances, the method of transportation that shows up, is not compatible with your car seat.
How Will You Be Travelling?
How will you be travelling once you get to your destination? Will you be taking a prearranged airport shuttle to your hotel / resort? Is your destination easy to explore by foot, or will you want to rent a car or use public transit or taxis?
If you are planning a trip at an all inclusive resort in Cuba, you will likely have a prearranged transfer from the airport. These transfers are usually either by a modern coach bus, which are not equipped for baby seat installation, or by van, which may or may not have a proper seat belt in the back.
Cuba Travel Tips: Car Seats in Taxis
In larger tourist centres like Havana and Varadero it will be easier to find newer taxis with a functioning seat belt to buckle in a car seat.
In Havana the official tourist “yellow cabs” (aka the government-operated Cubataxi) are your best bet for functioning seat belts. Specifically request a modern car. While classic cars are a fun way to see the city, they lack seatbelts.
Tip: A good tip no matter where you are staying, is to ask the front desk of your hotel, or the casa owner to help you find a newer taxi with seatbelts.
Cuba Travel Tips: Car Rentals & Car Seats
If you are planning on doing a lot of intercity travel and renting a car , then bringing your own car seat is essential.
There won’t be options to rent or buy a carseat once you are in Cuba.
Renting a car comes with many considerations, check out my post on Varadero to Havana here to read about some of them.
The realities of international travel make it so it may not always be practical to carry around a car seat for a day of sightseeing, or for short trips within a city.
Taking local buses if you can, is one way to avoid the need for car seats. Although this may not be an easy, safe option in some places.
In Havana and Varadero we found the local bus routes and schedules confusing and hard to find clear information on. There is a Hop On – Hop Off tourist bus in both places that may work if you and your family are staying close to the route and don’t mind seeing the sites along the fixed route.
We took a trip by the Varadero Hop On – Hop Off Bus, and have a post on kid friendly things to do by the bus you might like.
Car Seat Rental
In some countries (NOT Cuba), you can also rent a car seat with your rental car for a daily price. Ride shares such as Uber willl often include a car seat, for a small fee. This is a good option if the country uses a different restraint system, or has significantly different laws than your own.
Check out some car seat laws here:
- Car Seat Laws in Canada – varies by province/territory
- Car Seat Laws in the USA – varies by state
- Car Seat Laws in Australia
- Car Seat Laws in the UK
While renting one may be easy in some places, the downsides are you don’t know the history of the safety seat, and it may not be a model that fits your child well, or is easy to install.
Many a time have we arrived somewhere after a long day travelling to find ourselves struggling to install an unfamilar car seat in our equally unfamiliar rental. Leaving a tired little (and parents) who have run out of patience.
Confession. After much research we decided not to bring a car seat to Cuba for our then almost 7 year old. This was our first experience without a car seat, as we’ve always used one at home and in our previous travels. Our daughter loved the novelty of cruising in the back of a 1950’s classic car without a seat belt. I on the other hand was more nervous about it.
My partner was much more relaxed about the experience than I. Likely due to his higher risk tolerance (and two older children).
I found myself saying a silent prayer each time that we would get where we were going safely. Perhaps this was due to my safety first philosophy, or my first time parent status. Happily we made it to each destination safely.
Ultimately what works for us, may not work for you and your family. Let us know if you have any tips you’d like to share about travelling Cuba with (or without) a car seat.
Related Cuba Travel and Cuba Travel Tips articles:
- Where to eat in Havana with kids
- How to get WIFI in Cuba (it’s easier than you think)
- Awesome one day kid-friendly tour of Havana
- Varadero: Kid friendly things to do
- How to eat gluten free in Cuba
Cuba and Car Seats – What You Need to Know
Featured Image: Canva / Getty Images Pro: bigtunaonline