Understanding & recognising Helmet standards

As of November 2020.

The latest hot topic here at Demon Tweeks is the recent changes in helmet standards.

Firstly, the standard of approval on your helmet can be found inside the helmet, around the crown of the lining, often just tucked underneath the padding/lining. Please be aware that some helmets may carry 2 standards. These are dual standard which will be both an FIA & Snell standard. In this instance the FIA standard is overruling standard that carries more weight in International/national motorsport.

The FIA homologation 8859-2015 is the current ‘Premium Helmet’ approval, which is the less strict of the FIA approvals. It certifies helmets for use in motorsport with HANS/FHR use. This approval is one of the most used standards in UK and Europe as HANS/FHR use is mandatory, and at the time of writing this, has no expiry date*

Typical example of an FIA 8859-2015 approved helmet

Further to the FIA’s 8859-2015 standard, there are higher levels of approval that fall within the ‘Advanced Helmets’ standards. They are FIA 8860-2018 and 8860-2018ABP (Advanced Ballistic Protection). They are the most stringent helmet standards in the world, in terms of impact energy absorption, sharp objects penetration and HANS/FHR testing. 

The full face helmets that are FIA 8860-2018ABP approved have a noticeably smaller eye port to increase the strength of the helmet.

Currently the 8860-2018 ABP standard is only required in Formula 1, F2, F3 and Formula E, due to open cockpit nature of competition, the ABP standard will feed into other FIA championships year on year.

Championships like WRC, Le Mans and Blancpain GT do not require the ABP standard, 8860-2010 and 8860-2018 homologations can be used. The 8860-2010 will expire at the end of 2028. But you can of course wear these helmet standards for any form of competition if your budget allows!

Typical example of an FIA 8860-2018 approved helmet

To simplify, below is a list compiled from the FIA’s technical list No.25 that recognises all the current helmet standards in the market today, along with their validity in International motorsport.

Standard Used Validity To be used with FHR To be used without FHR
FIA 8860-2018 No Expiry Yes Yes
FIA 8860-2018 ABP No Expiry Yes Yes
FIA 8860-2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2028 Yes Yes
FIA 8860-2010 & Snell SA2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2028 Yes Yes
FIA8860-2004 Not Valid After 31.12.2020 Yes Yes
FIA 8859-2015 No Expiry Yes Yes
Snell SA2020 & FIA 8859-2015 No Expiry Yes Yes
Snell SA2015 & FIA 8859-2015 No Expiry Yes Yes
Snell SA2010 & FIA 8858-2002 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 Yes Yes
Snell SA2010 & FIA 8858-2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 Yes Yes
Snell SAH2010 & FIA8858-2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 Yes Yes
Snell SA2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 No Yes
Snell SAH 2010 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 No Yes
Snell SA2015 Not Valid After 31.12.2023 No Yes

Further to the above list of current helmets, Snell SA2005 standards or older have now expired and are no longer suitable for any International/National Motorsport that require a suitable safety standard. Likewise, SFI and British standard approvals have also expired many years ago and are not suitable for competition use.

Please also be aware that the governing body for National motorsport in the UK (Motorsport UK) maybe more lenient on expiry dates of certain helmet standards, so if you’re unsure please review the competitor’s safety section 10.3.1 in the current blue book for clarification.

For Karting, all standards above can be used (so long as they haven’t expired!), plus the following Karting specific standards; Snell-FIA CMR2016, Snell-FIA K2015, Snell K2020, Snell-FIA CMS2016 and Snell-FIA CMR2007, which do not have an expiry date. Snell-K2010 expires the end of 2023.

Typical example of an Snell CMR approved karting helmet

We stock all models from Bell, Arai, Stilo, Sparco and OMP, giving you an endless choice, covering all budgets and approvals! If you are still unsure about what standard or even size you need, check with your championship or race organiser, or feel free to give our experienced sales team a call on 01978 664466, who will be happy to assist.


Which helmet do I need?

Answer: Check with your event organiser on the standard of helmet required as they can differ. Any helmet with the FIA 8859-2015 standard inside will be suitable for the majority national motorsport unless the higher FIA 8860 standard is stipulated as a requirement. These are only generally required for FIA sanctioned series’ which are at the highest level of motorsport.

Where’s the best place to buy my helmet?

Answer: Demon Tweeks of course!

What happens if my new helmet from Demon Tweeks doesn’t fit?

Answer: Don’t worry we can arrange a collection and exchange it for another size!

Will my helmet last longer if it is Snell SA2020 rather than Snell SA2015 if both helmets also have the FIA 8859-2015 approval?

Answer: No. The Snell SA2015 or SA2020 standard only really has relevance in the USA. the FIA 8859-2015 approval overrules the Snell approval for national and the large majority of international motorsport today. In fact, several manufacturers today produce their helmets with just the one FIA 8859-2015 safety standard.

Can I fit HANS/FHR posts myself to my current, but in date helmet?

Answer: You can, providing the helmet has not expired and has pre-threaded inserts to fit the posts. The FHR posts and tethers on your HANS device have the same homologation of FIA 8858-2010. Drilling older helmets to fit HANS posts is no longer permitted and can be very dangerous.

Can I use an ECE approved helmet for motorsport?

Answer: No, these helmets are not approved for Motorsport use. They are OK to use on Track Days or arrive and drive rental karting.

Information in this blog was correct at the time of publishing 10/11/2020.

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