Simplified guide to booster seats in British Columbia


As a parent, choosing the right car seat or booster seat for your child can be overwhelming. With various opinions and recommendations, it’s important to focus on the legal requirements outlined in the Motor Vehicle Act. This guide aims to clarify booster seat regulations in British Columbia (BC) and offer tips for choosing the right seat to ensure your child’s safety.


Importance of Booster Seats

Car crashes pose a significant risk to children, causing injuries and fatalities. According to the  CDC, using a properly installed booster seat can reduce the risk of serious injury by 71-82% as opposed to using a seat belt alone. Understanding the guidelines and adhering to them is crucial to protecting your child.  


Choosing a booster seat

  • When selecting a booster seat, it is recommended to purchase a new one. However, if you need to buy a used model, ensure it meets specific criteria: 
    • Check for any recalls or notices.
    • Verify that the seat has the National Safety Mark.  
    • Contact the manufacturer to obtain the user’s manual.  
    • Inspect all moving parts to ensure they are in working order. Avoid using expired seats, those involved in accidents, or those with missing, damaged, or non-working parts.  


Booster Seat Requirements in BC

The BC Motor Vehicle Act, specifically Division 36, establishes the regulations for child seats and restraint systems. Here are the critical points regarding booster seats:  

  • Children must weigh at least 18kg (40lbs) before transitioning from a forward-facing seat to a booster seat.
  • If the vehicle has a lap/shoulder belt in the back seat, it should be used to secure the child in the booster seat. Only if unavailable should a lap-only belt be used.  
  • Once the child reaches a minimum height of 145cm (4’9″) or is nine years old, they can use a shoulder/lap belt in the back seat.  
  • It is recommended that children remain in the back seat until at least 12 years of age.  
  • Exceptions exist for children traveling in emergency vehicles or taxis. However, a medical certificate is required for children unable to fit in a child seat due to medical or physical reasons.  


Adhering to manufacturer specifications

Children should use a booster seat until they exceed the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications. This ensures optimal safety and proper positioning of the lap and shoulder belt.  

Summary of Safety Seat Regulations in BC: To provide a comprehensive overview, here are the safety seat regulations in BC:  

  • Infants must be secured in a rear-facing infant seat, away from active airbags, until they are 12 months old and weigh 9kg (20 lbs).  
  • Children between 1 year, weighing 9kg (20 lbs) and 18kg (40 lbs) must be secured in a child seat (forward or rear-facing).  
  • Children weighing at least 18kg (40 lbs) should be secured in a booster seat until their 9th birthday or until they reach a height of 145cm (4’9 inches), whichever comes first.  


Consequences of non-compliance

Failure to comply with safety seat regulations in BC may result in a motor vehicle fine of $167.00.

Adhering to provincial and federal laws, installing the appropriate safety seat according to manufacturer specifications, and meeting minimum safety standards are essential to reducing the risk of child injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Exceeding the legal requirements by following manufacturer specifications provides an extra layer of protection. Prioritizing your child’s safety and following these guidelines can significantly impact their well-being on the road.