Car seat laws in Australia and New Zealand

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#1
Singapore
5,928 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
For our end of the year Australia & NZ cruise, we are exploring the option of renting a car for self-drive during the port visits. These may include ports like Hobart, Tasmania & Tauranga, NZ.

My kids would be 6+ and 7+.

A quick check on car seat laws suggest that the car seat laws are very strict in Australia, but not so in NZ.

Apparently,Australia's law specifys:
Infants under 6 months old: must be restrained in a rear facing restraint.

Children 6 months to 4 years old: must be restrained in rear or forward facing restraint.

Children 4 to 7 years old: must be in a forward facing restraint or booster.


An approved restraint is one that meets AS/NZS 1754 standard, this is Australia's "5 Tick" standard. No other standards are accepted in Australia, it is an offence to sell, or offer for sale, a child restraint or part of a child restraint for use in a motor vehicle if it is not approved as described above.

Question - Does the above mean that my 2 kids would need to be an approved child restraint or booster even in a rental car?

I know that there is a rigorous certification process for car seats. What about boosters? I ask this to find out if we can bring our booster seats from Singapore.

---------------------------------
In New Zealand, the laws appear to be less strict -

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. 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.
Children under 5 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.
  • Must be properly restrained in an approved child restraint.
Children 5 to 7 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.
-----------------


From the above, it appears that my kids just need to be in the back seat, and have the safety belt on. Boosters are not required.



Is my interpretation correct?
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#2
Australia
1,033 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
The child restraint laws have changed in Australia in recent years. It is my understanding that these laws do apply to hire cars.

I can't speak for New Zealand but in Australia any of the reputable car hire companies will also hire you the child restraints or booster seats you need.
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#3
Sydney, Australia
1,644 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Book the required boosters etc when you book the car and do this well in advance. From our own experience of trying to rent at peak periods (e.g. local school holidays) and observation of frustrated parents trying to book these add ons when renting a car on the spot rather than booking ahead by telephone or on line.

Colleen
#4
Dunedin, New Zealand
71 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
It is recommended that your child be in a booster seat if under 148 cm. We certainly use a booster seat for my daughter aged 8 and son aged 6. When we have cruised, we have taken their booster seats with us - they fold down when not in use and there was room in our cabins (on P&O Australia - Pacific Sun outside and Pacific Dawn inside) for them to be stored when not in use. We fly with Air New Zealand and have not been charged for excess luggage. Check with your airline whether booster seats are counted as extra pieces of luggage.
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#5
Sydney Australia
977 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
In NSW the new car seat laws are extremely strict. We have been investigating them as our daughter is soon arriving with her three months old baby, from England. She had hoped to bring the capsule she uses there but they do not comply with our laws. Basically ALL the carseats up to about four years have to be secured to an anchor point in the car. If the car does not have one, in the case of older cars, it must be installed. If we carried her baby in her English capsule and were stopped, we would have a large fine and points towards losing our license. All our friends who are grandparents are buying carseats for their own cars for when they carry their grandchildren.
You can get a hire car with the correct restraint for the child's weight (you need to know weight in kgs) or if you book a taxi, request one. It is illegal to nurse a child in a car.
In defence of these harsh sounding laws, the road toll in NSW is similar to what is was 70 years ago and about one third of what it was when I was a teenager forty years ago.
#7
Auckland, New Zealand
294 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Your interpretation of the New Zealand situation is correct.

We always travel with our own booster seats. Rental car companies in New Zealand and in Australia often charge so much that you could buy a new booster after a few days' rental.
#8
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
64 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
A couple of quick corrections (quotes are from NSW RTA but national laws are being introduced and apply to all states in Australia or soon will).

In a taxi, a child restraint is only legally required up to 12 months of age. Restraints that are legal in other countries are likely to not meet the Aus/NZ standard.

Taxis

Taxi drivers must 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 occupy the same seating position as another passenger (whether or not the other passenger is exempt from wearing a seatbelt under rule 267), and
    • wear the seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened.
  • No passenger under four years old is in the front seat and a child four years or older but under seven years may only sit in the front row if all of the other seats in the row or rows behind the front row are occupied by passengers who are also under seven years old.
Can I use a child restraint that was purchased 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, which only Australian Standard approved child restraints are compatible with.
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 inverted test for roll-over protection.
We've just bought a new booster for our 7-year-old so we could move our 5-year-old out of the convertible seat he was about to grow too big for. The standards used to categorise restraints based on weight but now it's largely on shoulder height with markings on the seats to indicate safe limits (and approximate age ranges). Lap/sash belts (without a booster) are recommended only once child reaches 145cm or thereabouts. It depends on how the size of your kids and how safety conscious you are - many local parents remove their child's restraing on their 7th birthday due to misinterpreting the law (which states age 7 to 16 in a restraint OR seatbelt depending on their size) or "it won't happen to me" syndrome (referring to being caught and fined AND being involved in a collision).

To give you an indication of cost to compare with rental charges from a hire car company, we bought a Hi-Pod Boston booster seat at Target for $150 and both my boys fit between the upper and lower shoulder markings (108 cm and 121 cm tall - a short 5-year-old and average 7-year-old respectively). Most hire companies will make you install any hired restraints yourself so there's no time savings to be made by hiring them - in fact it can take longer as we found when they provided the wrong sort of seat for us a few years ago and we had to wait for them to get the correct one from another depot.

Hope that helps.
#9
Singapore
5,928 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Another idea. I may want to arrive in Sydney and buy the appropriate car seats in Australia and then bring them on board with us.

Does anybody know where we can purchase car seats (near the cruise terminal if possible) and how much they would cost?

By cruise time my kids would be 6 and 7.
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Completed cruises
Royal Caribbean - 7 (Monarch, Legend 2X, Brilliance, Voyager 2X, Adventure)
Voyager of the Seas (14N Australia and NZ) Review (149,493 views and counting)
Voyager of the Seas Singapore to Shanghai June 2012 - Review (99,000 views and counting..)
Legend of the Seas Borneo Cruise March 2013 - Review (157,000 views and counting)
Adventure of the Seas Iceland and Norway Cruise June 2014 - Review
(38,000 views and counting..)
Celebrity - 1 (Silhouette) -Celebrity Silhouette Med and Adriatic Seas cruise Nov 2013 - Review (32,477 views and counting...)
Holland America - 1 (Oosterdam)
NCL - 1 (Jade) - NCL Jade Greece and Turkey Cruise Dec 2014 - Review (9,000 views and counting...)
MSC (Yacht Club) - 1 (Preziosa) - Review (22,532 views and counting...)
Serenande of the Seas Baltic Cruise
Review (19,904 views and counting...)

Upcoming cruises
TBC

Come Visit Singapore! Videos of my country in this Cruise Critic Thread.
Feel free to contact me @ [email protected]
#10
Cairns, Australia
12 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Target in Broadway Shopping Centre should have them. The store is about 3km from the Circular Quay berth. The address is Broadway Shopping Centre, Corner of Broadway + Bay Streets, Glebe. Not sure of the price though.

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#11
Sydney, Australia
1,644 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by Single Malt
Target in Broadway Shopping Centre should have them. The store is about 3km from the Circular Quay berth. The address is Broadway Shopping Centre, Corner of Broadway + Bay Streets, Glebe. Not sure of the price though.
This is the online Target store with some prices to give you an idea.

http://shop.target.com.au/baby/trave...port/car-seats

You may also want to check out the rental with car costs to get an idea if the effort of rushing out to Broadway and schlepping the seats onto the ship etc would be worth it. As long as you book far enough ahead there should be no problem. See this thread for reccommendation for Hobart.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1551501

And it seems they are not legally required in NZ although you may be happier if you include them in your rental. Two companies in Tauranga Rite Price and Pegasus do wharf pick up and dop off. Just Google them for locations. Pegasus have offices in other NZ cities as well.

Cheers Colleen
#12
Singapore
5,928 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Thanks for all the useful information!!!
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Completed cruises
Royal Caribbean - 7 (Monarch, Legend 2X, Brilliance, Voyager 2X, Adventure)
Voyager of the Seas (14N Australia and NZ) Review (149,493 views and counting)
Voyager of the Seas Singapore to Shanghai June 2012 - Review (99,000 views and counting..)
Legend of the Seas Borneo Cruise March 2013 - Review (157,000 views and counting)
Adventure of the Seas Iceland and Norway Cruise June 2014 - Review
(38,000 views and counting..)
Celebrity - 1 (Silhouette) -Celebrity Silhouette Med and Adriatic Seas cruise Nov 2013 - Review (32,477 views and counting...)
Holland America - 1 (Oosterdam)
NCL - 1 (Jade) - NCL Jade Greece and Turkey Cruise Dec 2014 - Review (9,000 views and counting...)
MSC (Yacht Club) - 1 (Preziosa) - Review (22,532 views and counting...)
Serenande of the Seas Baltic Cruise
Review (19,904 views and counting...)

Upcoming cruises
TBC

Come Visit Singapore! Videos of my country in this Cruise Critic Thread.
Feel free to contact me @ [email protected]