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. LATCH is standard in all cars manufactured after September 1, 2002, and eliminates the need for the use of vehicle seat belts to secure car seats. The LATCH system consists of two lower anchors and a tether anchor.  Vehicle manufacturers are required to provide two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchor positions in each vehicle. These anchors are specifically designed to attach to the lower anchor connectors and tether connectors found on car seats.

How Does LATCH Work?

  • Since September 1, 2002, all automobile manufacturers are 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 are similarly required to have permanently attached hardware designed to attach to these vehicle anchorages.
  • Since September 2000 – automobile manufacturers are also required to equip their vehicles  with tether anchorages in at least three seating positions. Car seats are also required to provide a corresponding tether to attach to the vehicle tether anchor.
  • Together, the lower anchorages and the top tether anchorage make up the LATCH system.

Where is LATCH located?

On your car seat: Rear-facing only seats are required to provide lower anchor connectors. These are often found on the detachable base of a two-part infant seat. All other harnessed car seats provide lower anchor connectors and tether connectors. In addition, many booster seats also provide lower anchor connectors or tether connectors.  Always read and follow the directions provided in your car seat or booster seat owner’s manual.

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.

  • What if My Vehicle Does Not Have LATCH? 
  • Car seats can be installed using either the LATCH system or the vehicle's seat belt system.  If your vehicle does not have LATCH, follow the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat owner’s manual to install your car seat using the vehicle seat belt system. Remember, some vehicles may have tether anchors, even if they do not have lower anchors. You should connect the car seat’s tether strap to your vehicle’s tether anchor, if available, when using a forward-facing car seat. When not in use, store the LATCH attachments on your car seat according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If your vehicle does not have tether anchorages, you may be able to have one retrofitted. Check with your vehicle manufacturer or local dealership.
  • Remember, all children are safest when properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of your vehicle.

To learn more on how to install a car seat using lower anchors, click here.

To learn more on how to install a car seat with a tether anchor, click here.

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) or  http://www.safercar.gov/parents/RightFit.htm.