The LATCH System

Posted in: The LATCH System

LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

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.

LATCH vehicle back seat drawing.001
Vehicle LATCH Anchors:

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.

latchsystemChild Safety Seat LATCH Straps

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.

8 Responses to “The LATCH System”

  1. Caroline says:

    Is there a limit to how much weight a LUAS can “hold”? Does it vary from vehicle to vehicle? Where can one find this information? I tried calling the dealership where we bought ours and they were stumped, researched it, and replied with “the strength meets the requirements set by the safety standards”. Transport Canada has no set standards that I’ve found. That also is a dodgy/vague answer. No?

  2. teresa howard says:

    Can I use the latch on the side seats for middle seat installation in my rav4?

  3. Nicole says:

    My husband has a 2011 f250. There are no lower anchors in he backseat. Is there a high back booster that can securely and safely be used? Thank you!

    • Boosters do not need the lower anchors – some use it primarily to keep the booster from being a projectile when the child is NOT in the seat. In his car, make sure he or the child buckle the booster after the child climbs out (if someone will be driving around with the booster empty) so it doesn’t become a projectile in a crash.

  4. Alison says:

    Can the top tether of a FF car seat be on the seat next to where I install the car seat? I have a dodge grand caravan and would like the install the FF car seat in the 3rd row on the individual seat using the seat belt, but the only top tether anchor is on the middle seat. This would be the only car seat on the tether.

    • No, this is not allowed. This would pull the car seat on its side in a crash. You must install the car seat in the position where the tether anchor is – so if you want a forward-facing car seat in your 3rd row, you must install it in the 3rd row center of the Grand Caravan.

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