LATCH is known as ISOFIX in Europe and LUAS (Lower Universal Anchorage System) in Canada. LATCH is a way to secure a child safety seat to the vehicle using straps or bars from the child safety seat that connect to special metal anchors in the vehicle.
LATCH consists of lower anchors and tether anchors, which are built-in to your vehicle, and connecting hooks (usually at the ends of straps) that are built-in to your child’s car seat. Lower anchors are used INSTEAD of the vehicle’s safety belt to secure the child seat to the vehicle. Tethers are used IN ADDITION to the lower anchors OR the vehicle’s safety belt to secure a forward-facing child safety seat to the vehicle.
Lower Anchors: These are a pair of metal “u-shaped” bars hidden in the vehicle’s seat crack.
Tether Anchors: These are metal rings or bars, found behind the vehicle seat.
In the U.S., vehicles model year 2003 and newer must have lower anchors in at least TWO positions and tether anchors in at least THREE positions. This means that in most vehicles, the side seats have lower anchors AND top tether anchors, while the center seat has a tether anchor but NO lower anchors.
Lower Anchor Strap: All child safety seats that use the vehicles lower anchors have a lower anchor strap with a hook on each end. Some child safety seats have two separate lower anchor straps, each with a hook on one end. These hooks connect to the vehicle’s lower anchors.
In the US, there are a few child safety seats that have rigid LATCH – where the lower anchor connectors are not on a strap, but rather rigidly attached to the frame of the child’s car seat.
Tether Strap: Every single forward-facing car seat in the US has a tether strap. The tether strap comes from the top of the car seat and has a hook on the end that will connect to the tether anchor in the vehicle.