Getting to Know LATCH

Canada: Universal Anchorage System

What is LATCH?

LATCH, which stands for “Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren”, is designed to make proper car seat installation easier. The LATCH system has two permanent anchors at the base of vehicle’s rear seats and a top anchor behind each seating position in all vehicles.  These anchors are specifically designed for car seat tethers and hooks.

How Does LATCH Work?

  • Beginning September 1, 2002, all automobile manufactures will be required to install two sets of small bars in the rear seat of all vehicles, generally located where the vehicle seat cushion meets the seat back. All car seats will be required to have a permanently attached hardware designed to attach to these vehicle anchorages.
  • Most cars made after September 1, 1999 - and cars made after September 2000 - are also equipped with top tether anchorages. Most car seats manufactured after these dates have top tether straps that attach to one of the vehicle's built-in tether anchorages.
  • Together, the lower anchorages and the top tether anchorage make up the LATCH system.

Where is LATCH located?

On your car seat: infant and convertible car seats have LATCH tether straps with locking clips that are compatible with all vehicles.  In addition, all front-facing seats that have an internal harness have a top tether strap.

In your car: consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine the location of the lower anchors and tethers in your car. Car manufacturers are required to provide at least two lower anchor seating positions in the rear seat, generally the two outer seating positions. Car manufacturers are also required to provide three tether anchorages in the rear seat.

How Do You Install a LATCH Car Seat?

  • Always read the car seat's instructions and vehicle's owner's manual for proper use and correct installation information.
  • If necessary, adjust the car seat LATCH attachments according to the manufacturer's instructions. Locate the vehicle's lower anchorages and connect the car seat's lower LATCH attachments to the bars. Tighten according to manufacture's instructions, and check for a secure fit.
  • Hook the car seat's top tether strap to the vehicle's tether anchorage and pull to tighten.
  • Car seats should not move more than an inch forward or sideways. What if My Car Seat Does Not Have Lower LATCH Attachments?
  • Car seats made prior to September 1, 2002 that are used and installed according to the manufacturer instructions and have not been involved in a crash are safe to use. These car seats can continue to be installed using the vehicle's seat belt system, even in LATCH-equipped vehicles. This method of installation is as secure, providing your car seat is properly installed.
  • Some car seat manufactures offer LATCH hardware kits separately to retrofit some car seat models made after September 1, 1999. Contact the car seat manufacturer to determine if a LATCH kit is available to use with your car seat. What if My Vehicle Does Not Have LATCH Anchorages?
  • The new, LATCH-equipped car seats can be installed using the vehicle's seat belt system. If possible, store the lower LATCH attachments on the car seat and connect the car seat tether to the vehicle's tether anchorage.
  • If your vehicle does not have tether anchorages, you may be able to have one retrofitted. Check with your vehicle manufacture or local dealership.
  • Remember, all children are safest when properly restrained in the back seat.

To have your car seat inspected by a certified technician, call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK or visit www.seatcheck.org.

For more information on LATCH and car seat safety, please visit NHTSA (National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration).