NZ/AU Child Restraint law

New Zealand's child restraint law

The back seat is the safest place for children under 12 years of age.
Never
place a rear facing seat in the front with an airbag, serious injury or death could occur in an accident.

Only put forward facing child in the front seat (under the age of 12 years) when the back seat has no spare seats/are all occupied by younger restrained children. Move the passenger seat back as far as possible and restrain the child correctly according to your child's weight and height. If the back seat is available use it at all times.

On November 1st, 2013 the New Zealand child restraint law is changing, these changes are listed below:

Children under 7 years old

  • Must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint. 
  • They must not travel in the car if you can't put them in an approved child restraint.
  • An approved restraint is one that suits their height and weight, as specified on the seat, it can be a harnessed child restraint, a full backed booster seat, or a half booster cushion. A child in a half booster needs sufficient head support behind their head at all times otherwise default to a full backed booster with head suppot.

Children 7 to 8 years old

  • Must use a child restraint if available
  • If there is no child restraint available, the child must use a safety belt if available
  • If there is no safety belt available the child must be in the back seat.

Children 8 to 14 years old

  • Must use safety belts if available
  • If there is no safety belt available, the child must be in the back seat.

People over 14 years old

  • Drivers and passengers must wear safety belts when available.

Exemptions to NZ law

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

  • vintage vehicle (first registered before 1955) that isn't fitted with safety belts
  • goods service vehicle (eg, a truck, van or utility) with an unladen weight over 2,000 kg that isn't fitted with safety belts
  • passenger service vehicle (eg, taxi, shuttle, bus) that isn't fitted with safety belts.

However, where a safety belt is available in any of these vehicles, 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 will probably provide child restraints if you give them reasonable notice that you require one for your child, you may have to specify what sort you need, or mention the age of your child.

Note that the driver of a passenger service vehicle, such as a bus or taxi, is not legally responsible for ensuring seat belts are used (if fitted). It's up to the person in charge of the child to make sure they are used.

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| Rules and regulations for child restraint use in AU
| Frequently asked questions