Seatbelt exemption certificates

When and how can you issue seatbelt exemption certificates?

  • Seatbelt exemption certificates must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner.
  • Each case should be judged on its own merits.
  • Consider any reasons for exemption very carefully.

Seatbelts and the law

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that vehicle drivers and passengers are generally obliged to wear seatbelts.

An exception is if the vehicle occupant has a valid exemption certificate confirming it is inadvisable for them to wear a seatbelt on medical grounds.

The DVLA's guidance 'Medical Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing' highlights 'the overwhelming evidence to show that seatbelts prevent death and serious injury in road traffic accidents'. Because of this, seatbelt exemption certificates must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner.

MDU advice

You should consider any reasons for an exemption very carefully.

  • Judge each case on its own merits.
  • Carry out a thorough assessment that includes asking the patient to demonstrate their difficulty, if possible.
  • Direct patients to advice on devices designed to overcome difficulties with wearing seatbelts, especially those with disabilities.
  • Give clear reasons for refusing an exemption request and advise of the right to a second opinion if appropriate.
  • There are no conditions (such as pregnancy) that justify automatic exemption.

Your assessment should be clearly documented in the notes and include a discussion of risks along with appropriate examination.

If you do decide to issue an exemption certificate, it must specify a period of validity. This can be as long or as short you consider medically necessary.

The patient must keep the certificate in their vehicle to show the police if stopped. They also need to tell their car insurer.

This page was correct at publication on 30/06/2021. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.