What are the car seat laws?
||*Did you know*
All persons travelling in a motor vehicle must travel in a restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened. The restraint will be a child restraint, booster seat or adult seatbelt. The type of restraint will depend on the person's size.
The road rules require:
If a car has two or more rows of seats, children under four must not travel in the front seat.
- If all seats, other than the front seats, are being used by children under seven years, children ages between four and six years (inclusive) may travel in the front seat, provided they use an approved child restraint or booster seat.
Up to six months
From six months up to four years
From four years up to seven years
Seven years and older
| Rearward-facing infant restraint (e.g. baby capsule) - must not be in front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows of seat.
||Rearward-facing infant restraint,
Forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness
|Forward-facing child safety seat with an inbuilt harness,
Booster seat* can be restrained with a properly fastened and adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness.
|Booster seat* and be restrained with a properly fastened and adjusted seatbelt or child safety harness,
A correctly fitted and adjusted adult seatbelt.
* A booster seat can be used with a lap-sash seatbelt or child safety harness. A child safety harness is not recommended for use with a booster seat in a seating position with lap-sash seatbelt.
Buying a Car Seat Checklist:
- Take your child and your car along when buying a child car seat to check the right fit. Make sure you check the height markers because they are essential in choosing the right car seat.
- Is the seat tested to 1754:2010 Australia Standard (red approval label)?
- Does the seat fit my car properly, can I install it easily, are the car seat belts long enough?
- Try to install the seat in your car before you buy it.
- Is the seat easy for me to use?
- Does your child feel comfortable in it, does it have a sleeping position, is the harness easy to adjust?
- Can you child get in and out easily?
Use the car seat every single time, regardless of how long or how short the journey!
For more info, always check the rules that apply in your state, they may differ.
Maxi-Cosi recommends to always try and test a seat before the purchase.
Warning: from April 2008, all child car seats that were manufactured before 1995 and approved to the ECE R44/01 and 44/02 standard are no longer legal and must not be used or sold. Only seats displaying the European Standard orange label, indicating approval to the Standard to ECE R44/03, ECE R 44/04 or i-Size (UN R129) may be legally used.
What does the approval label tell me about my seat?
- Your seat meets the European Safety Standard. Note the last two digits: these should end in 04 (latest version) or 03. R44-01 or 02 are not legal
and may not be sold or used since 2008.
- 2. For ECE R44-04 or ECE R44-04, there are 3 types of car seat approval: universal, semi-universal and vehicle specific. ‘Universal’ means your seat is approved for installation in all cars, although you should check that the seat fits really well in your car. See below article on ‘Type Labelling’.
- Approval for weight (group). If a letter Y is added here, it means that the child seat features a 5-point harness system with crotch strap.
- European approval indicator.
- Indicates the country in which the approval was obtained: 1=Germany 2=France 3=Italy 4=the Netherlands etc.
- Approval number. The first two numbers (04) show to which version the child seat has been approved, in this case ECE R 44/04.
- Unique number allocated to your specific seat, for testing and tracking.
- Production details: week and year, in this case week 7, 2006.
- Manufacturer article reference number
- EAN code
- BAR code
- Name of product manufacturer
Type labelling: (semi-) universal or vehicle specific
To determine if a child car seat fits your car, there are 3 types of car seat approvals: universal, semi-universal and vehicle specific. Universal approval isn’t vehicle specific and the seat is approved and is suitable for installation in all cars. An approval label will indicate one of these categories.
The seat is approved for use in all vehicles that meet ECE R14 and R16 regulations. Any ISOFIX car seat must use the ISOFIX anchorage points including the top tether or foot support. In all ISOFIX cases this solution must be used and the vehicle’s handbook must state that the car is suitable for “Universal ISOFIX child seats”.
Semi-universal approval is when, in addition to the standard requirements, other safety devices for attaching a seat are used and require additional testing. For example: some vehicles provide additional storage space within or beneath the floor area that can influence the behavior of a child seat foot support, therefore you need to check the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list. if your car type and model is listed as suitable for use.
Vehicle specific approval
The child seat is tested in an additional car-specific dynamic crash test and approved only for these cars. The car must be listed in the child seat manufacturer’s car fitting list. This may include special features or designs that can only be installed in a car of a specific type.
Orange i-Size (UN R129) label
i-Size (or UN R129) approved car seats can be recognized on the approval label by the “i-Size” indication. Additionally, one can easily find the appropriate length classification of the car seat on the label. The remainder of the approval label looks alike the ECE R44 label.
Approval labels around the world
Australia | Australian Standard AS 1754 | New Zealand | New Zealand Standard NZS 1754
The Australian and New Zealand Standard label, also known as the 'five ticks' approval, indicates reliability, quality assurance and safety as the product’s most valuable attributes.
National child restraint laws were introduced in Australia on 1 July 2010:
- Children up to 6 months old must use an approved rearward-facing infant restraint and must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats.
- When fitting a rearward-facing car seat in a vehicle with only one row of seats it must have child seat fitting points available and any airbag in that position must be switched off.
- Children from 6 months to 4 years of age must travel in a fearward-facing or forward-facing child safety seat.
- Children from 4 to 7 years old must use a forward-facing car seat with
inbuilt harness or a seat that is fastened with the regular adult car seat belt.
- From 7 years and older, children must use a child (booster) seat and be restrained with an adult car seat belt or child safety harness or when tall enough, a correctly fitted adult seat belt.
For more information, download the official brochure on Australian child restraint law.
U.S.A. | Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213 (FMVSS 213)
Canada | Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213
When originally introduced in 1971, the FMVSS 213 safety standard did not include dynamic testing of child car seats. It simply specified that a seat belt should hold the child in place in the car. It did not include rearfacing car seats either. In 1981, the FMVSS 213 was amended to include dynamic tests of all car seats for children under 50 pounds, establishing the basic elements of the standard used in the US today. It included rearfacing restraints, car beds, 30 mph crash tests and buckle release force (so a child cannot release the harness) en special labelling and instruction criteria.
Child car restraints are generally compulsory in the United States and Canada. Check for an overview of the current child Car seat laws in the US and Canada.