All child restraints sold or used in New Zealand have to be manufactured to a standard that complies with our minimum safety standards for car seats. These are called car seat safety standards.
A car seat safety standard is displayed as a sticker or label on the shell of the restraint. To establish what car seat safety standard yours has been manufactured to, you will simply need to find the sticker on your child restraint. Finding this will help you figure out what your car seat’s lifespan is. You can do this by checking our “Car Seat Lifespan List“.
There are three common car seat safety standards which are approved for use here and one you will come across far less often. The three common ones are:
AS/NZS 1754 – The Joint Australian/NZ Standard
Child restraints manufactured to this car seat safety standard are commonly called “Australian standard car seats”. They must have this sticker to show they are compliant for use here.
If you have bought an Australian standard car seat in Australia, you can bring it to New Zealand and use it here.
European Standard Car Seats in NZ
European standard child restraints are also legal for use here in New Zealand. To be compliant for use on our roads, they will need to show a sticker like this one.
The sticker will have an E in a circle and a number alongside. The number indicates which country it was manufactured in.
They must also show one of three other numbers and/or letters. Either:
- ECE R44/04; or
- UN R129; and/or
As with Australian standard seats, you can purchase a European standard seat elsewhere and bring it back to New Zealand to use.
US Car Seat Safety Standard in NZ
Some restraints manufactured to the US standard for child restraints are approved for use here in New Zealand – but not all are.
Before a US standard car seat is able to be used in New Zealand, the model must be tested by a certification agency called Bureau Veritas. Once Bureau Veritas has approved a US standard car seat for use here, every individual restraint must have a yellow compliance sticker applied.
This sticker shows that it is a US standard restraint which has been approved for use in New Zealand.
Let’s work through this point a little further.
If you buy a car seat in America, it will not be compliant for use in New Zealand. This applies even if exactly the same model of child restraint can be purchased in a store in New Zealand. The one bought in America will not have the yellow compliance sticker attached and therefore it is not compliant for use here. These stickers are not available to individuals.
US Car Seat Compliance in NZ
These compliance stickers are issued under licence by Bureau Veritas. They are provided to the importers of child restraints only when their stock of car seats actually arrive in New Zealand. Once the container has landed, an importer must open every single seat and apply the stickers to them. As with individuals, it is not possible for other organisations, such as retailers, to get these stickers.
If a sticker has not been applied properly and a retailer receives a restraint without a yellow compliance sticker, they cannot sell that individual seat. They must contact the importer to arrange for a replacement sticker. The importer will apply to Bureau Veritas and have an individual sticker released.
I’m explaining this in some detail to point out that these stickers are not easy to get your hands on. And using a US restraint in New Zealand without one would, strictly speaking, be doing so outside the law.
This process with the compliance sticker means that US standard car seats differ to Australian or European standard car seats in New Zealand. Once again, strictly speaking, you cannot buy a US standard restraint in the US (or elsewhere) and bring it back to use in New Zealand.
Why do US Restraints Require Compliance Testing in New Zealand
Child restraints manufactured to European and AS/NZ standards require independent testing to achieve certification. However, child restraints manufactured to FMVSS 213 (US standard) are self-certified. Self-certification opens up the possibility for a manufacturer to “cheat” the system. While this is unlikely to happen, to remove the risk of allowing child restraints that fall into this category into New Zealand, we require independent testing of US restraints by Bureau Veritas before they are certified for use here.
The S Mark certification is simply a “quality control” process. There are no additional requirements expected of US manufacturers by NZ standards. The products must be batch tested to be sure that all products in NZ are of appropriate quality. Every batch that comes into NZ has an individual product static tested. The importers are also audited annually to be sure they are not importing substandard products.
This process is quite costly for importers and this is likely the reason why only certain models are certified for use here.
Summary of Car Seat Standards Stickers
Every restraint being sold in New Zealand must have one of the above three stickers on it. This shows the car seat has been manufactured to a standard approved for use here.
If the sticker falls off at some stage, or is no longer able to be read or recognised (this could be because a car seat is old and has expired), the restraint is not compliant and therefore it is not legal for use on our roads.
Visiting NZ with Children – Can you bring your own car seat?
When visiting New Zealand from overseas you can bring your own child restraint if it carries either the AS/NZS 1754 or ECE R44 / R129 safety standard sticker. Seats manufactured to these safety standards are the only ones that can be bought outside of New Zealand and used legally within the country.
Seats manufactured to the US safety standard, FMVSS 213, can only be used in New Zealand if they were purchased here.
Any child restraint manufactured to a safety standard other than these cannot legally be used in New Zealand.
If you do not have a seat manufactured to one of these standards it is recommended that you hire one from a local supplier while you are here. We can guide you on this. Please email us here for more information.
When traveling to New Zealand with children, we recommend you also read our article, “Car Seat Law NZ – Simplified“.
Japanese Car Seat Safety Standard in NZ
There is one other safety standard that is approved here. This is the Japanese standard.
However, you will never come across this standard on a child restraint being sold in New Zealand.
This is because the Japanese standard is only approved if it is found on a child restraint which is built-in to a vehicle. An in-built booster seat is an example of this. In-built restraints cannot be removed and therefore you will never come across the Japanese standard sticker on a restraint outside of a vehicle.
If you have a vehicle with a built-in child restraint that has the above Japanese standard sticker on it, that is an approved child restraint.