Are DOT helmets legal in the UK?

If you want to ride around looking like someone from Sons of Anarchy, you might be considering buying a skull cap helmet. There’s no arguing that skull cap helmets look cooler than conventional full faced ones. Particularly if you’re riding something that’s built for cruising rather than outright speed. But are they legal? Before you go and get one online, you’ll need to ask are DOT helmets legal in the UK or not?

DOT helmets

A DOT helmet is just an American term for helmets that have met the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s standards. These standards are federal and they cover all types of helmets including full face, three quarter, half helmet and skull caps. For obvious reasons these regulations don’t apply to the UK’s roads but we have our own standards that are just as stringent as the American’s.

British safety standards

To ride a motorbike in the UK you need to wear a helmet that meets British safety standards. Before you pick up a helmet and take it to the till, you’ll need to check that it has the BSI Kitemark to show that it’s reached the British Standard BS 6658:1985. If not, but it meets the United Nation’s UNECE Regulation 22.05, you’ll also be able to use it on British roads.

Types of helmets

For a list of the helmets approved for use in the UK, head to sharp.direct.gov.uk. Sharp is the UK’s helmet safety scheme. From their site you can learn all about the safety measures used in approved helmets and the tests these things have to go through to get certified.

Are DOT helmets legal then?

Well there’s no hard and fast rule here although some logic can help you assess whether your DOT helmet can be used on British roads. As there are no technical differences in main components like visor size or helmet shape between the helmets sold in Europe and the USA, American DOT approved helmets should be able to fulfil the British safety criteria which would make them legal.

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