LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children): Forward-facing

LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is an attachment system that allows you to install a car seat without using seat belts. It includes two sets of small bars, called lower anchors, located in the back seat of the vehicle where the upper and lower cushions meet. Car seats that come with LATCH have attachments that fasten to the anchors. LATCH is required on all vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002, and on most child car seats. If you aren’t certain whether your vehicle or car seat is equipped for this system, check your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat instruction manual. Unless both have this anchor system, you will need to use the seat belts to fasten your car seat.


Tether anchors have been required in new cars, minivans and light trucks since September 2000. The tether anchor can be located in any number of locations (rear window ledge, back of the vehicle, under the seat, floor, ceiling, etc.). Check your vehicle owner’s manual if you have trouble finding it. A tether strap at the top of the car seat attaches to the anchor. Upper tether attachment improves protection by anchoring the top of the seat more securely and preventing it (and the child’s head) from moving too far forward in a crash or sudden stop.

Important: ONLY use LATCH in a seating position recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. If using the lower anchors, do not use the vehicle's seat belt.

Proper Installation
  • The car seat’s LATCH belt must be routed through the opening on the seat labeled forward-facing. The belt must lay flat and not be twisted.
  • Adjust the car seat to the upright position on the vehicle seat equipped with LATCH anchors.
  • For ease of installation, extend the LATCH belt to its maximum length.
  • Attach to the vehicle lower anchors. (See car seat instruction manual for details.) Be sure the seat is securely attached.
  • Press down firmly or kneel in the center of the car seat to compress the vehicle seat cushion while tightening the LATCH belt. (The seat must not move more than one inch from side to side or front to back at the belt path.) If the seat does not stay tight, try another seating position or unclip the LATCH system and use your seat belt system.
  • Attach the top tether and tighten.
Lower Anchor Attachment
Upper Tether Attachment
Latch Child Restraint Attachment
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; American Academy of Pediatrics

See how to do it on video: "LATCH" linked from

Protect children from traffic injuries. You can do it!

Content provided by the Minnesota Safety Council, AAA Clubs of Minnesota, Safe Kids Minnesota and the
Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.