Defining motor vehicle

Motor vehicles include cars, vans, buses, trucks, and motorbikes. The early childhood regulatory requirements do not mention other forms of travel such as by boat, plane, train, or on scooters or bikes (electric or pedal/ push).   

Car seats / seat belts

If children travel in a motor vehicle while in the care of the service, children must be restrained as required by land transport legislation. The legal requirements according to land transport legislation for restraining children in a vehicle include:

  • Infant restraint: birth to at least one year of age (up to13kg)
  • Convertible (baby to child) restraint: birth to approximately four years of age (up to 18kgs)
  • Front-facing child restraint: about one year to approximately four years of age (9 – 18kg)
  • Booster seat: from approximately four years of age (18 – 36kg)

A child does not have to be in a restraint if travelling in a passenger service vehicle such as a bus or taxi when no appropriate child restraint is available. 

Number of adults to children

At centres, adult-child ratios must be maintained when travelling in a motor vehicle (e.g., if 6 children under two years there must be 2 adults). 

Parent permission 

Written approval for travel must be obtained from the child's parent before each journey/ travel commences, unless the parent is travelling with their child. Parents may however be asked when they enrol to give their written approval for 'all travel by vehicle' if the service is providing transport regularly for child drop-offs and pick-ups or if a home-based service where the educator regularly takes children out in a vehicle. 


CAUTION: This page and the information here is provided as part of the My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services (The Guide).  The Guide does not purport to be a full and accurate interpretation of all statutory provisions relating to early childhood education services. While best efforts have been used in preparing this guide, no representations or warranties of any kind are made and My ECE assumes no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the content. Please note that the Government and Ministry of Education may change, update, or alter any of the requirements at any time.  Please help to keep the information on this page up to date by letting us know of changes that need to be made. Thank you!  Kia pai te rā

My ECE Guide to Regulations for Early Childhood Education Services (Centres and Home-based ECE)
Prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall

Last reviewed: 1 October 2022