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.  



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:

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)
     Australian standard

  • 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.
     European Standard ECE 44

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.
 United States Standard FMVSS 213


Child restraints have a life-span of 5-10 years. These dates vary depending on the brand.


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

Restraint attachments

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).


>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:

For all Child Restraint enquiries, please contact Holly on 06 377 1379 
Child Restraint resources (shown below) can come in Maori, Samoan and English. Also available are height charts, some key rings (limited stock). Please call 06 377 1379 for any resources. Any not listed, we can try to source for you.

Wairarapa Expired Car Seats - Annual CollectionWairarapa Expired Car Seats - Annual Collection

For Wairarapa, we have a huge increase in expired and incorrectly fitted car seats in vehicles. Children 0-7 years (or up to 148cm tall) are required by law to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. This means in order for it to be legal, it must meet manufacturer's standards. 

This includes: 

  • installed correctly according to the instruction manual that comes with the seat. If you have a tether strap attached to the seat (according to US/NZ/AUS safety standards), it must be anchored to the anchor bolt in the vehicle. If there is none in your particular make/model of car, then one must be installed.

  • Shown manufacture date either by sticker or etched circle markings in the back or underneath the car seat. Each brand of seat has a different expiry date. A full list can be found on our website.

To try and combat the issue around expired car seats, Holly is inviting families in Wairarapa once again to drop off expired cars seats to the following locations before 3pm Thursday 19th December 2019:

  • REAP House, 340 Queen Street, Masterton

  • Salvation Army Family Store, High Street, Carterton

  • Featherston Community Centre, 14 Wakefield Street, Featherston

***Seats can be dropped off at these locations between 9am & 3pm - must be given to someone at the location***

“Thanks to local funding from Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils, secured by Seat smart, we take your expired car seat to be recycled in another way and give advice on best places to purchase new seats and where else (out of town) you can contact to hire a certified car seat”.

“We are so grateful to Seat Smart (part of 3R Group ltd) for assisting us in this initiative. This is the second year we have run our expired car seat collection. We collected 45 seats last year and are thankfully able to take more thanks to our collaboration with Seat Smart. With the help of Seat Smart, we are giving new life to a car seat by breaking down the parts so they can be used for other purposes. It’s a much better outcome instead of passing on an expired car seat to someone else to use.”

“With best intentions, people are known to give seats to family members or friends in goodwill, sell seats second hand online through various streams or drop them off to hospice and second hand stores, but 8 out of the 10 seats have already expired, putting the next users at risk”.

You might think it's just about selling more car seats, but there are very important safety reasons for placing an expiration date of six to 10 years after the date of manufacture.”

5 reasons are:

  1. Technology improves and standards change

  2. Material wears down - especially belts and plastic 

  3. Models are only safety-tested for a typical lifespan

  4. Older car seats may have been recalled by the manufacturer and if you have inherited someone else’s seat, how do you know this?

  5. As designs change, manufacturers don't want to maintain an inventory of older parts forever. You may not be able to get a replacement part past the expiration date.

“Your responsibilities as the driver (under the law), you must make sure that any child under 7 years of age is properly restrained by an approved child restraint that is appropriate for the age and size of the child. They must not travel in the vehicle if you can’t put them in an approved child restraint. The vehicle’s safety belt on its own is not an approved child restraint. “

Using the safest child restraint for your child is only going to protect your child if it is installed correctly. For information on child restraints including how to check the expiry date, visit our website – or call Holly on 06 377 1379. 

See recent article written about the issue around car seats.


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