Services > Child Restraints
Under New Zealand law, all children under seven years of age must use an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size. Children aged seven must be secured in a restraint if one is available in the vehicle. Please read further to find out how child restraints work and best practices. Links to external information is supplied at the bottom of this page.
Requirements for child restraints
Age of child & what the law says you must do:
Until their 7th Birthday - Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint
From their 7th to their 8th Birthday - Correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle (and if not, in any child restraint or safety belt that is available)
From 8th birthday to 14 years old - Must use safety belts if available. If not available, they must travel in the back seat.
Over 14 years old - Must use safety belts where they are available.
International best practice recommends the use of an appropriate child restraint (or booster seat) until your child reaches 148 cm tall or is 11 years old. Child restraint and medical professionals recommend that you keep your baby in a rear-facing restraint until as old as practicable, at least until they are 2 years of age.
For more information:
download the Child restraints save lives information brochure
download the My booster comes with me brochure
What are child restraints?
Approved child restraints include:
infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)
restraints for older babies, toddlers and preschool children (often called car seats)
booster seats for preschool and school-aged children
child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children.
Child restraints protect children from crash forces
Children must be correctly seated in child restraints that are correctly secured into the car to keep them safe from crash forces.
It’s a driver’s responsibility
When you are the driver, children in your car must be protected in the event of a crash.
As the driver, you are responsible for ensuring that any child travelling in your vehicle is correctly using an appropriate child restraint. Find out the legal requirements [PDF, 243 KB].
How to tell if a child restraint can be legally used in New Zealand & EXPIRY DATES
All child restraints must meet an approved standard. This ensures a restraint's design and construction are laboratory tested under crash conditions and provide the best protection when used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
All approved child restraints display standard markings to show they are approved.
Look for a child restraint that shows:
a tick mark (indicates the restraint meets the joint New Zealand/Australian Standard AS/NZ 1754)
an 'E' mark (indicates the restraint meets the European Standard ECE 44) – the number on the circle will vary depending on the country of certification.
Or, look for a restraint that complies with the United States Standard FMVSS 213. The restraint must also show the New Zealand Standard 'S' mark indicating it is certified for use here.
HOW LONG DOES A CAR SEAT LAST FOR?
Child restraints have a life-span of 5-10 years. These dates vary depending on the brand.
For a comprehensive list of child restraint expiry dates click here
Some expiry dates can be taken from the date of sale (Britax & Safe-n-Sound), others are always from the date stamp on the seat shell.
• All car seats, boosters and harnesses expire - there’s no exception to this rule
Requirements for how the restraints are attached are part of the American and European standards. Restraints that comply with these standards come with connectors called LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) in the United States or ISOFIX in Europe. Both systems have lower anchors in the vehicle and lower attachments on child restraints. This method of installation allows a child restraint to be snapped into place instead of being held by the safety belt.
Some restraints complying with the joint Australia/New Zealand standard also have ISOFIX lower attachments.
Find out more about LATCH and ISOFIX systems (external link).
MOTOR VEHICLE CHILD PASSENGER INJURIES IN NZ
>15 children die in car crashes every year, half of them are tamariki Māori.
In the event of a car crash, booster seats reduces the risk of injury by 59%.
Remember, it’s about height not age: children are safer in a child restraint until they are 148cm tall.
exernal links & resources for your whanau, early learning centres & play groups:
- Safekids website - printable resources & information brochures
- Driveway run over Demonstration - can be ordered by calling 06) 377 1379
- Plunket Services - new information on car seat hire changes
- Whaiora - Tamariki Ora
- Police - Schools information Portal
- Wairarapa REAP - ECE Leaders & Playgroups