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I've been looking into car seats suitable for international travel.

In the EU modern car seats have to meet ECE R44/04 and for New Zealand/Australia AS/NZS 1754.2010

I emailed a few manufacturers directly to see if they could help so far the most informative response I've gotten is:

"I'm sorry to say that the standards between the EU an Australia are different enough that non of our Australia seats would comply to EU regulations"

I've seen people in various forums claiming that the anchor/harness is the root of some incompatibility, but that doesn't match what appears to be the official line, for example from "vicroads":

Does the booster seat have to be anchored?

If the booster seat comes with a tether strap it must be anchored to the child restraint anchorage point. There are also some booster seats that meet the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1754) that do not come with a tether strap and therefore do not need to be anchored in the vehicle.

So my question is what's the difference between the regulations that makes this so hard? Is there a method to find a car seat that has the all important correct stickers for multiple regions?

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    So you are taking a Australian carseat to the EU right? I'm just curious what you are worried about happening. If you believe your child is safe, that is what is important. Quite a few countries in the EU don't even have carseat laws, or if they do, they are almost never enforced. – EkoostikMartin Jul 30 '14 at 21:28
  • @EkoostikMartin other way around ideally. I have an opportunity to purchase one now that I'd like to be able to use on holiday in the near future. – Flexo Jul 31 '14 at 5:40
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    @EkoostikMartin there is a EU wide car seat regulation: ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/users/children/index_en.htm – user141 Aug 8 '14 at 11:49
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+100

The main incompatibility is indeed that Australia requires the use of a top tether strap, so all child seats sold in Australia are built with this in mind, and all cars sold in Australia after the mid-1990s will have the attachment hooks for the tether strap. Also, Australian child seats use the adult seatbelt to attach the bottom of the seat to the car. Note that the Vicroads link you point to is about tethers being optional for some models of booster seats, not child seats. These are meant for children 4+, and are not suitable for younger children.

EU standard child seats use the ISOFIX system, where the child seat is secured to the base of the seat instead; this replaces both the tether and the seatbelt. Cars in the EU may not have the attachment hooks to allow the use of an Aussie seat, and EU child seats will not have the seatbelt path needed to secure them into an Aussie car without ISOFIX.

In 2013, Australia started accepting the use of ISOFIX attachments, and newer cars in Australia as well may have ISOFIX built in. However, the rules state ISOFIX attachments can only be used in addition to the top tether, a rather literal "belt and suspenders" approach. You'd thus think there were some seats on the market that did this, but I'm not aware of any, and even if you did find one, you'd have some trouble ensuring that your rental car was compatible.

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