Car Seats - Legal Requirements
Correct child car seats for children’s age and size.
All children must be safely fastened in the correct child car seat for their age and size. A child who is properly secured in an approved child car seat is less likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than one who is not.
National Child Restraint Laws
Children up to the age of six months must be secured in an approved rearward facing restraint
Children aged from six months old but under four years old must be secured in either a rear or forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness
Children under four years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows
Children aged from four years old but under seven years old must be secured in a forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat
Children aged from four years old but under seven years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in an approved child restraint or booster seat
Children aged from seven years old but under 16 years old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat
Children in booster seats must be restrained by a suitable lap and sash type approved seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened.
If your child is too small for the child restraint specified for their age, they should be kept in their current child restraint until it is safe for them to move to the next level. If your child is too large for the child restraint specified for their age, they may move to the next level of child restraint.
When can I move my child to the next type of car seat?
Every child is different, but as a general guide you should only move your child to the next level of protection when they no longer fit in their current child car seat.
From rearward-facing child car seat to forward-facing car seat
Your child should be moved:
- When your baby is aged between 6 or 12 months (depending on the type of rearward facing child car seat you use) and is able to hold their head up; or
- If your child car seat has shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover, move your baby to a forward facing car seat when his/her shoulders have passed the upper marks.
From forward-facing child car seat to booster seat
Your child should be moved when:
- Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the child car seat; or
- Their eye-level is higher than the back of the seat; or
- The top insertion slots for the shoulder straps are below the level of the child’s shoulders; or
- If your child car seat has shoulder marks, move your child to a booster seat when his/her shoulders have passed the upper marks.
From a booster seat to a seatbelt
Your child should be moved when:
- Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the booster seat; or
- Their eye-level is higher than the back of the booster seat; or
- If your child car seat has shoulder marks, move your child to a seatbelt when his/her shoulders have passed the upper marks.
This five-step test can help assess whether your child is big enough to be safely restrained by a seatbelt. The child should be able to:
- Sit with their back against the seat back
- Bend their knees comfortably over the front of the seat cushion
- Sit with the sash belt across their mid-shoulder
- Sit with the lap belt across the top of their thighs
- Remain in this position for the whole trip.
What is the Australian/New Zealand Standard
for Child Car Seats?
The Australian/New Zealand Standard for child car seats is the Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754 Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles (AS/NZS 1754).
Standards are published documents that set out specifications and procedures designed to ensure products, services and systems are safe, reliable and consistently perform the way they are intended to. They establish a common language that defines quality and safety criteria.
AS/NZS 1754:2013 is the current version and was published on 7 June 2013. This version introduces new requirements for a lower anchorage system for restraining a child car seat to the vehicle instead of using the seatbelt. Child car seats provided with this alternative option are defined in AS/NZS 1754 as “ISOFIX compatible child restraints”.