Frequently Asked Questions

ISOFIX compatible child restraints

The Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints 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 restraint to the vehicle instead of using the seatbelt. Child restraints provided with this alternative option are defined in AS/NZS 1754 as 'ISOFIX compatible child restraints'.

To access the current version of the Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754, visit infostore.saiglobal.com

Designing vehicle seatbelts to achieve their primary purpose of protecting occupants creates challenges when installing child restraints in vehicles. An idea originated in Europe to develop a child restraint anchorage system that was independent of the vehicle seatbelt.

In 1989, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) began work to develop an ISO standard. This ISO standard was published in 1999 and is called the ISO 13216-1 Standard Road vehicles – Anchorages in vehicles and attachments to anchorages for child restraint systems. ISOFIX is defined in the ISO standard.

The technical specifications of this ISO standard have already been adapted for use by the United States (2002), Canada (2002) and Europe (2004). Each of these systems are different, as is the new ISOFIX compatible system for Australia:

  • United States: this system is known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren). The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 225) requires ISOFIX low anchorages in the vehicle, two lower attachments connectors at the base of the child restraint which may be either rigid or flexible, and a top tether strap.
  • Canada: this system is known as the Universal Attachment System (UAS) and is very similar to the LATCH system in the United States.
  • Europe: this system is known as ISOFIX and includes three types – universal ISOFIX, semi-universal ISOFIX and vehicle specific ISOFIX. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Standard (UNECE R14) features ISOFIX low anchorages in the vehicle and a pair of rigid attachment connectors at the base of the child restraint, in addition to other requirements depending on the ISOFIX type.
  • Australia: this system is known as ISOFIX compatible. The Australian Design Rules for vehicles provide an option for ISOFIX low anchorages in the vehicle with a corresponding top tether anchorage point. A pair of ISOFIX compatible lower attachment connectors for rearward and forward facing child restraints is provided as an option in the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754:2013) in addition to the top tether strap.

Note: For ISOFIX related information relevant to New Zealand, please contact the New Zealand road authority.

The ISOFIX compatible system for Australia represents a combination of changes to the Australian Design Rules for vehicles (ADR 34) and the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754).

The Australian Design Rules have been amended to set design and performance requirements for any new vehicle being supplied to Australia with ISOFIX low anchorages. Vehicle manufacturers, from 1 November 2012, could voluntarily include ISOFIX low anchorages in new models of vehicles, and from 1 November 2013 for all other new vehicles of existing models.

Vehicle with visible ISOFIX low anchorages.

The Australian Design Rules have been amended to set design and performance requirements for any new vehicle being supplied to Australia with ISOFIX low anchorages. Vehicle manufacturers, from 1 November 2012, could voluntarily include ISOFIX low anchorages in new models of vehicles, and from 1 November 2013 for all other new vehicles of existing models.

ISOFIX low anchorages are a pair of dedicated anchorage bars, fitted to the junction of the vehicle's seat back and cushion, specifically for attaching a child restraint.

The lower attachment connectors on the child restraint can either be a pair of rigid or flexible connectors. The lower attachment connectors are incorporated into the child restraint design at the time of manufacturer and connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages.

Rigid lower attachment connectors.

Flexible lower attachment connector.

The ISOFIX compatible system for Australia requires an ISOFIX compatible child restraint that complies with the Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754, which connects to a vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages and top tether anchorage point by using the child restraint's rigid or flexible lower attachment connectors and top tether strap.

Note: ISOFIX compatible child restraints that comply with AS/NZS 1754 will also be suitable for use in seating positions not fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages. To install the child restraint in the vehicle it will require the use of the vehicle seatbelt and top tether strap. When the vehicle seatbelt is being used, the lower attachment connectors on the child restraint are not required and can be retracted.

Rigid connectors being connected to ISOFIX low anchorages (not visible) in a vehicle.

Rigid or flexible connectors are incorporated into the design of the child restraint at the time of manufacture and both types are compatible with the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages. This is why the child restraint is called an ISOFIX compatible child restraint.

  • Rigid connectors: A pair of rigid connectors are located at the base of the child restraint which connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages. The top tether strap must be anchored to the vehicle. The vehicle seatbelt will not be required when the rigid connectors are being used.
  • Flexible connectors: A pair of flexible straps with connectors are located at the base of the child restraint which connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages. The flexible connectors are then adjusted to secure the child restraint firmly to the vehicle. The top tether strap must be anchored to the vehicle. The vehicle seatbelt will not be required when the flexible connectors are being used.

Rigid lower attachment connectors.

Flexible lower attachment connector
(flexible strap partially shown on right).

Child restraints which comply with the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NSZ 1754), including ISOFIX compatible child restraints, are different to child restraints from overseas.

For example, AS/NZS 1754 child restraints are required to:

  • have a top tether strap (that is independently tested for strength)
  • have a rebound prevention feature (to keep a rearward facing child restraint in the correct position in the event of a crash)
  • be tested in a side impact (in the event of a side impact crash)
  • be tested in an inverted position to test for occupant ejection (to ensure the child does not get ejected from their child restraint if the vehicle rolls).

It will continue to be illegal to use an ISOFIX compatible child restraint from overseas.

It is not known at this stage whether the ISOFIX compatible system for Australia will be an easier system to use. This will depend on the design of the child restraint, the design of the vehicle, and the ease of access to the ISOFIX low anchorages in the vehicle.

Recent Australian research has shown that installing a child restraint using the vehicle seatbelt accounts for 25 per cent of misuse in forward facing child restraints and 10 per cent misuse in rearward facing child restraints (Brown et al. 2010).

ISOFIX and similar systems (for example LATCH) were designed to reduce serious installation errors in how the vehicle seatbelt is used to secure the child restraint. However there is still potential for incorrect use of ISOFIX low anchorages.

This was recently highlighted in an overseas study which showed 40 per cent of parents incorrectly connected the child restraint to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2012).

Whether a child restraint uses ISOFIX compatible connectors or the vehicle seatbelt, parents and carers need to continue to take care when fitting and using child restraints.

To protect a child in a crash, ensure the restraint is:

  • the right size for the child
  • correctly fitted to the vehicle
  • properly adjusted and fastened.

A summary of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research is available at: http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4703.pdf

No. Child restraints that use the vehicle seatbelt and top tether strap will continue to be available.

The reason for introducing the ISOFIX compatible system for Australia is not due to there being any concern with the safety of the current Australian system for installing child restraints (using the adult seatbelt and top tether). There is very strong evidence that Australian child restraints, which use the top tether and vehicle seatbelt to secure the restraint to the vehicle, provide excellent protection to children even in very high severity crashes.

The ISOFIX compatible system for Australia will provide just another option for consumers to choose from. All AS/NZS 1754 child restraints, whether they are ISOFIX compatible or not, will have the ability to be installed using the vehicle seatbelt and top tether strap.

When buying a child restraint or booster seat, look for the Australian and New Zealand Standard label on the restraint and wording on the package that states it complies with AS/NZS 1754.

Child restraints that meet the standards released in 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2010 are legal and can be used in motor vehicles throughout most of Australia. This will change when child restraints that comply with the 2013 version of AS/NZS 1754 become available. Check the laws in your jurisdiction.

No. Child restraints purchased from overseas are illegal to use in Australia as they do not comply with AS/NZS 1754, the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints. AS/NZS 1754 is one of the most stringent child restraint standards in the world. Unlike the European standard, the Australian/New Zealand Standard requires all restraints to be tested in side and frontal impact tests, and some with inverted tests for roll-over protection. In addition, all rearward and forward facing child restraints meeting the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1754) must have a top tether strap.

When buying your child's restraint, look for the standard's label on the restraint and wording on the package that states it complies with AS/NZS 1754.

Yes. Australian rearward and forward facing child restraints all require the use of the top tether strap. This will continue to be required for all rearward and forward facing child restraints, including any AS/NZS 1754 ISOFIX compatible child restraints.

A top tether strap prevents the child restraint from rotating forward in the event of a crash and is tested for strength, independent of the ISOFIX low anchorages or vehicle seatbelt.

The Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints AS/NZS 1754:2013 was published on 7 June 2013. For manufacturers to produce ISOFIX compatible child restraints for Australia, they must meet the requirements of the 2013 version of AS/NZS 1754. The process required to design, manufacture and test to AS/NZS 1754:2013 may mean it will be some time before ISOFIX compatible child restraints are commercially available.

No. Since 2000 some imported vehicles from Europe, Asia and the United States have arrived in Australia fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages. This has been included on a voluntary basis by the manufacturer, so not all vehicles sold in Australia have ISOFIX low anchorages.

In preparation for the introduction of ISOFIX compatible child restraints that comply with AS/NZS 1754, Australia has recently changed the Australian Design Rules for manufacturers to voluntarily include ISOFIX low anchorages. This came into effect on 1 November 2012 for new models of vehicles, and 1 November 2013 for all other new vehicles of existing models.

In newer vehicles it should be easy to identify the location of ISOFIX low anchorages. The ISOFIX low anchorages should either be visible or their location clearly marked with the ISOFIX symbol (see below).

One type of marking that indicates the vehicle seating position is fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages.

Some older vehicles may have ISOFIX low anchorages fitted, however the location may not be clearly marked with the ISOFIX symbol. In these instances, contact the vehicle manufacturer.

Yes, provided the seating position has a corresponding top tether anchorage point and you are using an ISOFIX compatible child restraint that complies with the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754).

Some older vehicles may have ISOFIX low anchorages but no corresponding top tether anchorage point. A corresponding top tether anchorage point must be fitted before these ISOFIX low anchorages can be used. Contact your nearest child restraint fitter or vehicle engineer to determine if a top tether anchorage point can be installed.

ISOFIX low anchorages are built in to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, if the vehicle manufacturer chooses to provide them. The number of ISOFIX low anchorages will depend on the design of the vehicle. Generally, ISOFIX low anchorages are located on the two outer seating positions in the second row, and not in the middle seating position.

If you wish to use the middle seating position in the second row, you can still fit an ISOFIX compatible child restraint in the middle position by using the vehicle seatbelt and top tether strap.

It is not recommended to have aftermarket ISOFIX low anchorages fitted.

Australian road authorities do not recommend having aftermarket ISOFIX low anchorages fitted in your vehicle.

Yes. The Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754:2013) will require all child restraints (including ISOFIX compatible child restraints) to be able to be anchored to the vehicle using the vehicle seatbelt and the top tether strap.

If provided, ISOFIX low anchorages are generally located on the two outer seating positions in the second row. The experience in Europe is that if using both pairs of ISOFIX low anchorages, it is unlikely that there will be room for a third child restraint or passenger in the same row.

However, as ISOFIX compatible child restraints that comply with AS/NZS 1754 will be able to be fitted to the vehicle using the vehicle seatbelt and top tether, it may be possible to use three child restraints in the second row, depending on the size of the vehicle.

Some manufacturers may offer three ISOFIX anchorages in the same row, however until the ISOFIX compatible child restraints become available, it is not known how easy it will be to fit three child restraints across, using the ISOFIX low anchorages.

No. Only child restraints that have been specifically manufactured, crash tested, and certified to the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1754:2013) can be used.

ISOFIX compatible child restraints will not be able to be used in the front row of vehicles with two or more rows of seats. In Australia, children aged under 7 years must not travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows of seats. However if all rear seats are being used by children aged under 7 years, then children aged 4 years to under 7 years may travel in the front seat, provided they use a booster seat.

If your vehicle does not have a rear row (for example, a ute) children are able to travel in the front row, provided they are restrained in a suitable restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened.

A rearward facing child restraint cannot be used in the front row where a passenger airbag is fitted.

No. AS/NZS 1754:2013 will only allow child restraint manufacturers to produce ISOFIX compatible rearward and forward facing child restraints, not booster seats.

ISOFIX compatible system for Australia means an AS/NZS 1754 ISOFIX compatible child restraint, which connects to a vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages and top tether anchorage point, using the child restraint's rigid or flexible lower attachment connectors and top tether strap.

ISOFIX compatible child restraint is a child restraint fitted with lower attachment connectors that are capable of connecting to the ISOFIX low anchorages in a vehicle. Note: All ISOFIX child restraints are fitted with a top tether strap.

ISOFIX low anchorages are a pair of dedicated anchorage bars, fitted to the junction of the vehicle's seat back and cushion, specifically for attaching an ISOFIX compatible child restraint. The locations and designs of these ISOFIX low anchorages are controlled by the Australian Design Rules for vehicles.

Lower attachment connectors can either be a pair of rigid or flexible connectors. These will be fitted to the base of the child restraint and connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages. The top tether strap will also need to be anchored to the vehicle. The vehicle seatbelt will not be required when the lower attachment connectors are being used.

  • Rigid connectors are a pair of rigid lower attachment connectors located at the base of the child restraint which connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages.
  • Flexible connectors are a pair of flexible straps with connectors located at the base of the child restraint which connect to the vehicle's ISOFIX low anchorages. The flexible connectors are then adjusted to secure the child restraint firmly to the vehicle.

Top tether anchorage strap is the flexible component designed to restrain the top portion of the child restraint, referred to in consumer literature as the top tether strap. Previously called an upper anchorage strap.

Top tether anchorage point is the location where the top tether strap on the child restraint is anchored to the vehicle. Also known as an upper anchorage point.

When can I move my child to the next type of restraint?

Every child is different, so use the following as a guide. Only move your child to the next level of protection when they no longer fit in their current restraint.

From rearward-facing restraint to forward-facing restraint:

  • When your baby is aged between 6 or 12 months (depending on the type of rearward facing restraint you use) and is able to hold their head up; or
  • If your restraint has shoulder marks printed or sewn on the cover, move your baby to a forward facing restraint when his/her shoulders have passed the upper marks.

From forward-facing restraint to booster seat: Your child should be moved when:

  • Their shoulders no longer fit comfortably within the restraint; or
  • Their eye-level is higher than the back of the restraint; or
  • The top insertion slots for the shoulder straps are below the level of the child's shoulders; or
  • If your restraint 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 restraint; or
  • Their eye-level is higher than the back of the booster seat; or
  • If your restraint has shoulder marks, move your child to a seatbelt when his/her shoulders have passed the upper marks.

Can my child sit in the front seat?

This depends on whether there is more than one row of seats in the car and the age of the child.

Where there are two or more rows of seats:

  • A child under four years of age cannot sit in the front row if there is more than one row of seats, even if they are large enough to fit in a booster seat.
  • A child between four years of age and under seven years of age cannot sit in the front row if there is more than one row of seats, unless the other rows are occupied by younger children in an approved child restraint.

However, it is strongly recommended that children always sit in the rear seat as it is safer for children.

Note: Front seats do not have child restraint anchorage points supplied, so child restraints and booster seats with tether straps cannot be used in these seating positions, unless yours have the anchorage point retro-fitted.

If the car has one row of seats (for example a single cab ute or sports car with a front anchorage point) a child of any age can sit in the front seat provided they are properly restrained. However, most car manufacturers recommend against the use of rearward facing restraints in front passenger seats. A child in a rearward facing restraint should not be placed in the front seat of a vehicle where there is an air bag.

Can I use a restraint I have brought with me from overseas?

No. Child restraints purchased overseas do not comply with Australian Standards and they are not compatible with Australian vehicles.

Australian vehicles have a unique top tether strap anchorage system, with which only Australian Standard approved child restraints are compatible.

In addition, the Australian Standard for child restraints is one of the most stringent child restraint standards in the world. Unlike the European Standard, the Australian Standard requires all restraints to be tested in side and rear impact tests and some with an inverted test for roll-over protection.

If I have four children under seven years of age can I carry them in my car?

This will depend on the age of your children and the size of your car as well as the type of your child restraint and booster seats you have.

There are a range of child restraints and booster seats available with a narrow base which may be suitable for your child and car. You can consider the restraint dimensions listed under the "CREP results" to see if the restraint will fit in your car.

What if I need to take my child in a taxi?

In NSW, taxi drivers are required to ensure:

  • All passengers younger than 12 months must be secured in a child restraint.

  • All passengers aged over 12 months and under 16 years must:

    • Occupy a seating position that is fitted with a suitable seatbelt, and
    • Not share a seatbelt.

  • Passengers under 4 years old must not be in the front seat.

  • Passengers aged between 4 years and under 7 years may sit in the front seat only if the rear seat(s) are occupied by passengers under seven years old.

In NSW, one in ten taxis carries an approved child restraint. If you need a child restraint, you should ask for one when booking a taxi or take one with you.

In Victoria, taxi drivers do not have to provide a child restraint or booster seat but must ensure their vehicle has an anchor point so that a child restraint can be fitted. There are exemptions to the child restraint laws if:

  • A child under one year old is travelling in a taxi and a suitable restraint is not available, however the child must not travel in the front seat.
  • A child aged over one year old is travelling in a taxi, and there is no suitable restraint available and the child occupies their own seating position.

It is recommended that parents provide their own child restraint when travelling in a taxi.

Can I use an accessory child safety harness with a booster seat?

A child safety harness is difficult to fit correctly. Research recommends using a child safety harness only in situations where it is not possible to replace your lap-only seatbelt with a lap-sash seatbelt. In this case, it is recommended to use a booster seat with an anti-submarining feature.

If you must use a child safety harness, ensure that the shoulder straps are not too tight and that the lap part of the seatbelt is very low across the thighs, otherwise it may ride up into the child's stomach area. Incorrect use of a child safety harness may cause severe submarining and direct contact between the harness system and the child's neck (see video below).

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Remember, every child must be suitably restrained when travelling in a vehicle, unless you have and carry a current certificate signed by a medical practitioner exempting your child due to medical reasons.