Compare Quotes
HomeDriver's ResourcesChild Car Seat Regulations in Canada

Child car seat regulations in Canada vary by province and territory, but there are general guidelines and regulations set by Transport Canada. These national guidelines set out the different types of car seats and when they should be used:

  1. Rear-facing seats:
    • For babies and toddlers who weigh up to at least 10 kg (22 lb). Some newer models can carry children up to 20 kg (45 lb).
    • It’s recommended to keep children rear-facing as long as possible, based on the weight and height limits of the car seat.
  2. Forward-facing seats:
    • For children who are over 10 kg (22 lb) and up to at least 18 kg (40 lb). Again, some newer models have higher weight limits.
    • Always use a tether strap when installing a forward-facing seat.
  3. Booster seats:
    • For children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat, usually when they are less than 145 cm (4’9”) tall.
    • They raise the child up so that the car’s seat belt fits them correctly.
    • In many provinces and territories, children need to use a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or meet the height/weight requirements.
  4. Seat Belts:
    • Typically for children who have outgrown their booster seat and are at least 145 cm (4’9”) tall or 8 years old.
    • Seat belts are designed for adults, so it’s important to ensure it fits the child correctly before forgoing a booster seat.

Transport Canada sets the standards for child car seats in the Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Seats Safety Regulations. All car seats sold in Canada must meet these standards and carry a label to prove it.

It’s crucial to check the weight and height limits on your specific car seat and refer to the car seat manual and vehicle owner’s manual for proper installation and use.

As mentioned earlier, each province and territory may have its own specific regulations and penalties for non-compliance. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local regulations.

Regularly checking for updates on regulations from official sources such as provincial transportation departments or Transport Canada will ensure you’re always aware of the most current guidelines and rules.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Ontario

In Ontario, the use of child car seats and booster seats is regulated under the Highway Traffic Act. Here are the general requirements based on the age, weight, and height of the child:

  1. Rear-Facing Seats:
    • For infants weighing under 9 kg (20 lb).
    • It’s worth noting that many safety experts recommend keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible, based on the car seat’s weight and height limits, as it provides better support for the head and neck.
  2. Forward-Facing Seats:
    • For toddlers weighing between 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb).
    • These seats must be secured with a tether strap.
  3. Booster Seats:
    • For children weighing 18 kg to 36 kg (40 to 80 lb), standing less than 145 cm (4’9”) tall.
    • They are typically used until a child is at least 8 years old, but age is not the only factor. The weight and height of the child play a significant role.
  4. Seat Belts:
    • For children who are 8 years old or older or weigh 36 kg (80 lb) or more or stand 145 cm (4’9”) tall or taller.
    • Seat belts should be used on their own if they fit the child properly, meaning the lap belt crosses over the hips (not the stomach), and the shoulder belt crosses over the shoulder and chest.

Additional Points to Note:

  • Car seats and booster seats must be certified to Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and must have the National Safety Mark label.
  • Always ensure the car seat is appropriate for your child’s height and weight.
  • It’s essential to install the seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual.
  • Seats expire and shouldn’t be used past their expiry date or if they were in a collision.

Fines and Penalties: Drivers can be fined for not ensuring that passengers under 16 years old are properly secured. The fines can vary depending on the offense, and demerit points may also be issued.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Alberta


In Alberta, child car seat regulations are governed under the Traffic Safety Act. The province mandates the appropriate use of child safety seats and booster seats based on the child’s age, weight, and height. Here are the general guidelines:

  1. Rear-Facing Seats:
    • Suitable for infants and toddlers.
    • Alberta law requires children to remain rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old or exceed the height and weight limits designated by the car seat manufacturer.
  2. Forward-Facing Seats:
    • After outgrowing the rear-facing seat, children move to a forward-facing seat with a harness.
    • They should stay in this type of seat until they reach the maximum weight or height limits set by the car seat manufacturer.
  3. Booster Seats:
    • Once a child has outgrown the forward-facing seat, they transition to a booster seat.
    • Children are required to use a booster seat until they are at least 6 years old or have reached the weight and height limits set by the booster seat manufacturer.
    • The booster seat should raise the child so the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly: the lap belt should lie across the child’s hips, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face.
  4. Seat Belts:
    • When children outgrow the booster seat and are tall enough for the seat belt to fit properly, they can transition to using the seat belt alone.
    • Proper fit usually happens when children are at least 145 cm (4’9”) tall.
    • Always ensure the seat belt fits the child correctly: the lap belt should cross over the hips, and the shoulder belt should cross over the shoulder and chest.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Quebec

Here are the general guidelines for child car seat regulations in Quebec:

  1. Rear-Facing Seats:
    • Suitable for infants.
    • Children should be in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 9 kg (20 lb), but it’s recommended to keep them rear-facing for as long as the car seat’s specifications allow, as this position provides better protection for the child’s head and spine in case of a collision.
  2. Forward-Facing Seats:
    • For children who weigh between 9 kg and 18 kg (20 lb to 40 lb).
    • They should be used once the child has outgrown the rear-facing seat, but it’s important to follow the weight and height specifications mentioned by the car seat manufacturer.
  3. Booster Seats:
    • For children who weigh between 18 kg and 36 kg (40 lb to 80 lb) and are less than 145 cm (4’9”) tall.
    • The booster seat is designed to raise the child so that the vehicle’s seat belt fits them properly.
  4. Seat Belts:
    • Children can start using a seat belt alone when they reach one of the following criteria: they are at least 145 cm (4’9”) tall, or they are at least 8 years old, or they weigh 36 kg (80 lb).
    • Proper fit is when the shoulder strap fits across the child’s shoulder and chest (not the neck or face), and the lap strap fits across the hips (not the abdomen).

How long are child car seats good for in Canada?

In Canada, child car seats have an expiry date, after which they should not be used. The lifespan of a car seat can vary based on the manufacturer and the specific model of the seat. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Reasons for Expiry Dates:
    • Material Degradation: Over time, the materials used in car seats can degrade, which may compromise the seat’s integrity and safety in the event of a collision.
    • Technological Advances: Safety technology and standards can evolve, meaning older seats might not meet the latest safety criteria.
    • Loss of Parts: As seats age, there’s a higher chance that they might be missing essential parts, which can affect their safety performance.
    • Wear and Tear: Regular use can lead to wear and tear which might not always be visible but can impact the seat’s safety.
  2. Locating the Expiry Date:
    • Most car seats have the expiry date imprinted somewhere on them, often on a label or molded directly into the plastic. If you can’t find an explicit “expiry” or “do not use after” date, you might find a “manufactured on” or “manufactured in” date. In this case, you’ll need to refer to the car seat’s manual or the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the seat’s lifespan.
    • Typically, car seats have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years from the date of manufacture, but this can vary. Always refer to the manufacturer’s specific guidelines.
  3. What to Do with Expired Seats:
    • Do not sell, donate, or give away expired car seats.
    • If disposing of an expired seat, it’s recommended to dismantle it as much as possible to ensure it’s not used again by someone else. You might also want to check with local recycling programs to see if parts of the seat can be recycled.
    • Some communities or retailers have trade-in or recycling programs for old car seats. It’s worth checking to see if such programs are available in your area.
  4. Other Considerations:
    • If a car seat has been involved in a collision, it may need to be replaced, even if it hasn’t reached its expiry date. Refer to the car seat’s manual and local regulations for guidance.

Always prioritize safety by adhering to expiry dates and guidelines provided by the car seat manufacturer. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly or consult local safety organizations for guidance.

Is it OK to use an expired car seat?


No, it is not recommended to use an expired car seat. Here’s why:

  1. Material Degradation: Over time, the materials used in car seats can degrade, particularly plastics and fabrics. These materials can become brittle or weakened, reducing their ability to protect a child in the event of a collision.
  2. Safety Standards Evolve: Car seat technology and safety regulations evolve over time. An older, expired seat might not meet current safety standards.
  3. Wear and Tear: Regular use causes wear and tear, which may not always be visible. Even small components like buckles or straps can degrade, which could affect the seat’s safety performance.
  4. Missing Parts or Recall Notices: Older seats may be missing essential parts or might have been subject to recalls that you’re unaware of.
  5. Legal Implications: In many places, using an expired car seat can be against the law, and you might face fines or penalties if you’re found using one.
  6. Liability Concerns: In the event of a collision, if it’s found that an expired car seat was in use, there might be insurance or liability implications.

For the safety of the child, it’s crucial to adhere to the expiration date provided by the car seat manufacturer. If you’re unsure about the status of a car seat, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and replace it with a new, certified seat that meets current safety standards.

List of approved car seats in Canada

In Canada, car seats must meet the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) and carry a National Safety Mark (NSM) label to be legally sold or used. This label indicates that the car seat complies with Canadian regulations and standards.

Rather than a fixed list of approved car seats, Canada has standards that manufacturers must meet. Therefore, if you’re looking to purchase or use a car seat in Canada, you should:

  1. Look for the National Safety Mark: This is an oval label that indicates the car seat meets Canadian safety standards.
  2. Check for an Expiry Date: Ensure the seat hasn’t passed its expiry date.
  3. Ensure it hasn’t been recalled: Check Transport Canada’s website or the manufacturer’s website to see if the car seat model has been recalled for safety reasons.
  4. Avoid Using Second-Hand Seats: Unless you’re sure about its history, as seats involved in collisions or those that are missing parts may not be safe.
  5. Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions: For installation and use to ensure safety.

If you’re looking for specific car seat recommendations or a list of models, Transport Canada doesn’t provide a list of “approved” models beyond the NSM requirement. However, you can consider checking with local child safety organizations, hospitals, or community groups which may offer car seat clinics or recommendations based on their own assessments.

To stay updated on the latest information regarding car seat safety, recalls, and other relevant updates, regularly checking with Transport Canada’s official website or other trusted child safety organizations in Canada is advised.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

Leave A Comment

Continue Reading