Requirements for using child restraints in New Zealand

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.

Requirements for child restraints

Age of child The law says you must:
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

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 or ECE 129) – 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.


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.

Buying and installing child restraints

Watch our videos for tips on buying and installing your child restraint.

Exceptions to the law

A child doesn't have to be seated in an approved child restraint if they're travelling in a:

  • vintage vehicle (first registered before 1955) that is not fitted with safety belts

  • passenger service vehicle (eg taxi, shuttle, bus) when no appropriate child restraint is available.

However, where a safety belt is available, the child must be restrained, and where an approved child restraint is available, it must be used (where appropriate for the child's age and weight).

Taxi companies may provide child restraints if you give them 24-hours notice.

Note that the driver of a passenger service vehicle, such as a bus or taxi, is not legally responsible for ensuring safety belts are used (if fitted). However if an appropriate child restraint is available in the vehicle then that taxi driver is responsible for ensuring that a child under seven is restrained in it (the same as any other driver).

Note that the driver of a bus is not responsible for ensuring a child is appropriately restrained. It is up to the person in charge of the child to make sure they are correctly restrained.

A child aged seven or over, but under the age of 15, may be seated in the front seat of a vehicle without an approved suitable child restraint if there is no back seat, or the back seat is already full of other children under 15 years old. The child must be restrained using the available safety belt.

In exceptional circumstances a medical practitioner may provide a certificate to provide exemption from the use of a child restraint for a specified period of time.

Need a child restraint for your visit to New Zealand?

If you're bringing a child restraint with you into New Zealand it must comply with one of the following approved standards:

  • the joint Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1754 
  • the American standard FMVSS 213. The restraint must also show the New Zealand Standard 'S' mark.
  • the European standard shown by E3 (or another number depicting the European country).

You can hire child restraints for your visit from a number of hire outlets. We recommend that you leave your child restraint at home and hire a child restraint in New Zealand if your child restraint does not meet these standards.

Are you in New Zealand and going overseas with your child?  What do you need? 

When overseas

It's unlikely that you'll be refused entry if you take a restraint other than one of those recommended for the country. Most problems are likely to arise over insurance if you have a crash. It is likely that insurance will not be paid out if the restraint you are using is not one recommended for that specific country.

In Australia

While age requirements for the use of child restraints vary from state to state, all states require them to be used. The one accepted standard for a child restraints throughout Australia is the joint Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1754.

Both infant and child restraints have tether straps and all vehicles manufactured in Australia are required to have the tether anchorages inserted, making installation of the tether easy.

When flying

If you want to use your child’s restraint on the aircraft you need to check that it is certified for aircraft use (check the instruction book or check for a sticker on the restraint). You will also need to ask the airlines you're travelling with whether they will accept your child restraint for use on the aircraft.

Some airlines take child restraints as luggage at no cost. Check with the airline you are travelling with beforehand.

How do I know if my child's restraint has been recalled?

To find out if your child's restraint has been recalled, visit the Product Recalls website(external link) and search by name of the manufacturer and model number.

Find out more information

Find more information about child restraints:

Rental schemes offer a variety of affordable infant and child restraints available for short- and long-term hire.

Learn about other vehicle safety features that can protect you and your passengers in a crash.