What Are the Baby Car Seat Laws in Australia?

Car seat laws, like many legislations, are rather complex. They differ based on factors such as the age, height and weight of your little one, and whether or not something is legal can even depend on the type of vehicle that you drive.

Having said that, however, these rules are centred around the safety of your youngest family members, so following them pays in more ways than one.

With that in mind, we've compiled this list of common questions surrounding baby car seat laws and rounded up the safest solutions for each method of transport.

What car seat should my child be in?

The law for which type of safety restraint your little one needs to be in can vary slightly from state to state. However, the basics remain the same: Babies aged up to six months of age must be secured in a rear-facing car seat at all times - and can remain in this position up to the age of four if desired as long as their size and seat are suitable.

From the age of six months through to seven years of age, little ones can be placed within a forward-facing safety restraint as long as the appropriate harness is used. However, a child who is aged four years or older can be moved to a booster seat if safe to do so.

Once your child turns seven, they may use a normal seatbelt, but it is important to remember that the recommended minimum height for this switch is 145cm tall, and children should be kept in a booster seat until they reach this height.

In all states, if your child is not the correct size for their required safety restraint, you may legally secure them in the safest option. This means that children that do not meet minimum guidelines can be kept in a smaller seat, while those who have outgrown their suggested baby car seat prior to the designated age may be legally secured in the next size up.

As a general rule, we suggest checking these car seat laws against the guidelines set out by the manufacturer of your chosen safety restraint, and following whichever is stricter as long as your baby fits the appropriate guidelines.

Baby car seat to be placed in rear facing positionRequired up to 6 months, suitable up to 4 years
Car seat can be placed in a forward facing position Suitable from ages 6 months to 7 years
Child may be secured in a booster seat Suitable from age 4 through to 16 - children must remain in a booster seat until they are tall enough to be safely restrained by a standard seat belt
Child can be secured with a standard seat beltAges 7 and up may be shifted from a booster seat to a standard seat and seatbelt if they are 145cm or taller

How do I find the best compliant car seat for my child?

When selecting a car seat for your little one, it is always important to do your research and put safety first.

In order to meet local standards, car seats must feature the tick of approval from the AS/NZS 1754 standard. Seats that meet this standard will feature a sticker or label that displays this and have undergone stringent testing to meet some of the highest requirements in the world.

Car seat laws state that seats can be secured either with a seat belt or ISOFix connection. Neither is distinctly superior to the other, however, if you intend on using an ISOFix connection, please ensure that all vehicles your little one will be travelling in are compatible prior to purchasing your chosen car seat.

We recommend reading our piece on the best baby car seats in Australia as a starting point. All recommendations within this piece have been independently tested and are compliant with Australian car seat laws.

Please note: While car seats sold within Australia are perfectly safe and compliant, those sold in other countries may not meet the required standards. As such, we strongly recommend purchasing locally. This is particularly important with ISOFix seats, as international models may also fail to suit your vehicle.

Compare the best baby car seats

Product
Best for
Price
Suitable ages
Protection ratingIcon Tooltip  Dark
Ease of use ratingIcon Tooltip  Dark
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Best baby car seat overall0 to 4 years42.3
Runner-up0 to 4 years3.32.6
Best forward-facing baby car seat6 months to 8 years3.82.3
Best rear-facing baby car seat0 to 12 months2.93.3
Best booster seat4 to 8 years3.82.6

Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

What do I do if my child doesn't fit in the required car seat?

We made note of this above, but in case you're the type who likes to scan - children who do not fit in the assigned seat for their age can legally be secured in the safest, most size appropriate option for each individual child.

What happens on public transport and in taxis or rideshares?

There are a few aspects to this one and each has different guidelines so we've broken them down into separate sections:

Taxis

All car seat laws that apply to private vehicles also apply to taxis. In some states taxis are required to provide child car seats, while in others they are simply expected to have the appropriate facilities to install one.

Regardless of whether your taxi is required to provide a car seat, we suggest bringing your own so you can ensure that it is the appropriate size for your little one.

Rideshares

Children riding in Ubers and other rideshares are required to be secured in accordance with standard state car seat laws.

This means that you will need to either provide your own car seat for the trip or, if your chosen platform has the option, request a ride that offers car seats as an inclusion. We do, however, suggest the first option to ensure the safety of your child.

Buses

Car seat laws surrounding buses are a little more complicated. When travelling in a bus that has 12 or more seats, rules and regulations do not apply. Buses with less than 12 seats, however, are beholden to the same car seat laws as private vehicles.

We strongly suggest that children be secured in a pram, capsule or other appropriate form of safety restraint wherever possible when travelling on a public transport option that does not require the use of child car seats.

Can my child travel in the front seat?

Car seat laws don't just apply to how your little one should travel, they also make note of where they should sit. While it is recommended that children up to the age of 16 should remain in the back seat of a vehicle, they must legally do so until the age of seven.

The only exception to this law is if all back seats are occupied by children who are also under the age of seven. All children must be secured in appropriate safety restraints regardless of where they are sitting.

Children under the age of four should never travel in the front seat of a vehicle unless the car is a ute or other type of vehicle that does not have a back seat.

If you still have questions about car seat laws, we suggest reaching out to your local road authority directly for clarification. 

Or, if your query is more general in nature, Safewise has a knowledge bank featuring a wealth of information about baby and child safety within our Family Safety category.


Disclaimer
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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