Car seat checks provide caregivers with the opportunity to receive education, either in-person or virtually, about the correct use of their car seat. Best practice is to document a car seat check regardless of how it is conducted. The National Digital Car Seat Check Form, commonly referred to as the NDCF, can be used to guide you step-by-step through a car seat check and to document the results.

This NDCF Paper Form User Guide provides guidance on how to complete version 6.0 of the paper form.

Prior to starting the car seat check, verify the most current version of the NDCF is being used by visiting carseatcheckform.org.

Download and Print These Free Resources

Click on the “+” sign next to each heading below to view the content.

The caregiver must complete the information in this section prior to beginning the car seat check.

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Street Address
  • City*
  • State*
  • Zip*
  • County*
  • Phone
  • Email

NOTE: *Only city, state, zip, and county will be entered into the online form. Local level data not captured on the NDCF paper form may be collected separately or documented in the documentation box on page 2.

Complete the vehicle information even if the caregiver received a ride to the car seat check from someone else (e.g. friend, relative, support program, etc.).

  • Vehicle Make
  • Vehicle Model
  • Trim- The trim level is an extension of the vehicle model description. For example: Honda Accord LXI , LXI would be the trim level
  • Vehicle Year

If the caregiver did not arrive in a passenger vehicle (e.g. public transportation, on foot, etc.), this information may be left blank. Document reason in documentation box on page 2.

The caregiver must read the liability statement (or have it read to them), sign and date the form prior to the car seat check.

  • General liability statement: The NDCF general liability statement is available in English and Spanish. Visit carseatcheckform.org to print a paper form with the appropriate liability statement.
  • Agency liability statement: Agencies may request a customized NDCF paper form with an agency liability statement and logo. Contact [email protected] for more information.

When conducting virtual car seat checks, follow the guidelines in the Guidance for using the National Digital Car Seat Check Form during virtual car seat checks to capture caregiver signature and acknowledgement of the liability statement.

What Agency is hosting this seat check?

Document the agency providing the car seat check. If the car seat check is not affiliated with an agency, this field may be left blank.

What state is this seat check taking place in?

Document the state in which the car seat check is taking place.

  • If the seat check is part of a virtual event, select the state in which the technician is located.

Event

Provide a description of the event. (e.g. Seat Check Saturday, one-on-one appointment, etc.).

  • Use this field to differentiate between multiple events hosted by an agency on the same day.

Technicians Participating

Document all technicians who participated in the car seat check including last name and technician certification number.

  • If the seat check will be used for re-certification, be sure to add the instructor/proxy/senior checker name.

How did caregiver hear about the car seat check?

Document how the caregiver learned about the car seat check.

Child #

Assign each child a number and document.

  1. Child’s Age: Select the age range of the child even if the child is not present.
  • Unborn: Select and go to #7
  • 0<1: Select if child’s age is less than one year. Complete #1a

1a. If child is under 1 year, select the age in months.

Complete this question only if the child is born and less than 1 year old. Select the child’s age range in months.

  1. Weight (lbs.): Document the child’s weight in pounds.
  • If the weight is unknown, document an estimated weight and document that the weight is estimated in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  1. Height (in.): Document the child’s height in inches.
  • If the height is unknown, document an estimated height and document that the height is estimated in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • Note: If the caregiver is unsure of the child’s height and weight, the Technician has the option to verify height and weight if possible.
  1. How were weight and height collected?
  • Caregiver Reported/Other Source- Select whether the caregiver reported the child’s weight and height, or information was verified by another source (e.g. hospital records, WIC document, etc.).
  • Measured at Car Seat Check- Child was measured at the car seat check.
  1. Is vehicle present?
  • Identify if the caregiver arrived in a passenger vehicle that is available to perform inspection. If the caregiver arrived by public transportation, on foot, etc., select No.
  1. Child Location in Vehicle: Document where the CHILD is located in the vehicle on arrival, even if the child is unrestrained. This location may be different than the location of the child’s CAR SEAT as documented in question 8.
  • If no vehicle present, select N/A.
  1. Child Secured Using: Select how the CHILD is secured on arrival.
  • Older children: If child is using a booster seat or seat belt, answer 7a. Child Seat Belt Correct, otherwise skip to #8.
  • N/A- select if no vehicle present.

7a. Child Seat Belt Correct: Answer this question only if the child arrived in a booster seat or using a seat belt. Indicate if the seat belt is being used correctly.

  • No: select all that apply.
  • Incorrect Fit on Child: Select if the seat belt across the neck, shoulder, or stomach, etc.
  • Shoulder Belt: Select if the shoulder belt is misrouted when used with a booster, placed behind the back or tucked under the arm, too loose, etc.
  • Lap Belt: Select if the lap belt is misrouted when used with a booster, too loose, etc.
  • If a description of seat belt error is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the documentation box on page 2.
  1. CS Location in Vehicle: Document where the CAR SEAT is located in the vehicle on arrival. This location may be different than the location of the CHILD as documented in 2. Child Location in Vehicle.
  • D represents driver location.
  • 2nd Row: If the vehicle only has one back row (e.g. sedan), use this option and leave 3rd row blank.
  • 4th Row: Select this option for larger vehicles with more than three rows (e.g. 15- passenger vans). Add additional location information for the 4th row to the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • No CS: Select if the child does not have a car seat and move to #35.
  • Uninstalled: Select if the car seat is present but not secured in a seating position (e.g. in vehicle trunk, in a box).

Note: If the child arrived in a different vehicle but will also be assessed in this vehicle, instruct the caregiver to secure the child as they normally would and proceed with the seat check.

  1. CS Restraint Type: Check restraint type being used on arrival. Note: If the car seat is an All-in-One, choose the option that best describes how it was installed. (e.g. Rear-Facing (RF) Convertible, Forward-Facing (FF) with Harness, Backless Booster, High Back Booster)

CS= Car Seat     RF= Rear-Facing   FF= Forward-Facing

  • RF Only without Base: Any rear-facing only car seat designed for use only by a young child in a semi-reclined rear-facing position; not permitted by manufacturer to be used forward-facing; also referred to as infant car seat; only the carrier is present.
  • RF Only with Base: Any rear-facing only car seat designed for use only by a young child in a semi-reclined rear-facing position; not permitted by manufacturer to be used forward-facing; also referred to as infant car seat; the carrier and detachable base are present.
  • Base Only: Detachable base for rear-facing only car seat; the carrier is not present.
  • RF Convertible: Car seat that can be used rear-facing and forward facing. Select this option when the car seat is being used rear-facing. For rear-facing only car seats, select RF Only without Base or RF Only with Base.
  • FF with Harness: Forward-facing car seat being used with harness including convertible, combination, all-in-one, forward-facing only and integrated car seats.
  • High Back Booster: Booster seat (or combination or all-in-one car seat being used in the booster mode) with a shell that provides head, neck, and back support for the child; raises and positions the child using a lap-and-shoulder belt.
  • Backless Booster: Booster seat (or combination or all-in-one car seat being used in the booster mode) that uses the vehicle’s seat back or head restraint for head, neck, and back support for the child; raises and positions the child using a lap-and-shoulder belt; also referred to as low-back booster seat or no-back booster seat.
  • Specialized Restraint: Car seats and booster seats obtained through a specialized provider for use with children who have special transportation needs.
  • Vest: A harness system used in place of a car seat or booster seat; works with either the vehicle seat belt system or LATCH.
  • Other: Document restraint type if the car seat does not fit any of the options above.
  1. CS Harness Correct: Document if the car seat harness is being used correctly on arrival.
  • No: Select all misuse that applies.

If a description of harness error is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the documentation box on page 2.

  • N/A: Check if:
  • child arrived in a booster or seat belt only
  • if an unborn or newborn child who has not ridden in the car seat (e.g. has not been discharged from the hospital)
  1. CS Installed Using: Document the way the car seat is installed in the vehicle on arrival; select all that apply.
  • Document additional findings in the Documentation Box on page 2 if necessary.
  • If the car seat is uninstalled, Skip to #22.
  • Booster Use: Select how the booster was secured to the vehicle (e.g. lower anchors, top tether, uninstalled etc.).
  • If child present, choose the best response option to describe how the booster was secured. Example: Child present, booster secured using LA, select LA and seat belt type that is used to secure the child.
  • If the child was not present, select how the booster was secured.
  1. Recline Angle Correct: Document if the car seat is reclined according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • N/A: Check if recline angle does not apply to this car seat.
  1. Lower Anchors Correct: If the car seat is installed using lower anchors, document if the lower anchors are used correctly on arrival.
  • No: Select all misuse that applies.
  • If a description of lower anchor misuse is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the documentation box on page 2.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat is not installed with lower anchors.
  1. Seat Belt Correct: If the car seat is installed using a seat belt, document if the seat belt is used correctly on arrival.
  • No: Select all misuse that applies.
  • If a description of seat belt misuse is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat is not installed with a seat belt.
  1. Tether Correct: Document if the tether is used per car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • No: Select all misuse that applies.
  • If a description of tether misuse is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat does not have a tether or if a tether is present and not being used per the car seat manufacturer’s instructions (e.g. a convertible seat in the rear-facing position).
  1. Handle Position: Document if the carry handle is being used according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat does not have a carry handle.
  1. Load Leg: Document if the load leg/foot prop is being used according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat does not have load leg/foot prop.
  1. Anti-Rebound Bar: Document if the anti-rebound is being used according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • N/A: Check if the car seat does not have an anti-rebound bar.
  1. Are there non-approved products? Document if the caregiver is using any non-approved products on, under, or next to the car seat or on the seat belt on arrival, e.g.: Mirrors, rattle toys, tablets, etc.
  • YES: Document additional information in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  1. CS Correct Direction Per MFR’s Instructions: Based on the child information and the car seat manufacturer’s instructions, document if the car seat is installed facing the correct direction on arrival.
  2. CS Secured Per MFR’s Instructions: Based on the information collected in #1 through #19, document if the car seat is installed according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on arrival.
  • Unknown: Check if the car seat instruction manual is unavailable to verify if the car seat is installed according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  1. CS Correct for Child Age, Weight, and Height per MFR’s Instructions: Based on information collected in #1, #3, and #4, and the car seat manufacturer’s instructions, determine if the child meets the age, weight, and height requirements of the car seat.
  • Measure on site or discuss with caregiver to determine child’s weight and height.
  • Unborn Child: If there is sufficient information to complete the question, the caregiver should estimate the child’s height and weight based on prenatal development.
  • Unknown: Check if the car seat instruction manual is unavailable and verification is not possible.
  1. CS Correct Per State Law: Based on the information collected in #1, #3, and #4, determine if the car seat is used correctly according to the current state law.
  • N/A: Check if the state law does not apply to the current car seat check.
  1. CS Labels Missing: Document if the car seat being used on arrival is missing labels needed to identify general use information.
  • Yes: Complete as much information as possible in #24 through #30.
  1. CS MFR: Document the manufacturer name of the car seat being used on arrival.
  2. Model Name: Document the model name of the car seat being used on arrival.
  • Leave this field blank if a car seat model name is not identified.
  1. Model Number: Document the model number of the car seat being used on arrival.
  2. MFR Date (MM/DD/YYYY): Document the date of manufacture of the car seat being used on arrival.
  3. Expiration Date (MM/DD/YYYY): Document the expiration date, if available, of the car seat being used on arrival.
  • Leave this field blank if the expiration date cannot be determined.
  1. CS Expired: Determine and document if the car seat being used on arrival is expired.
  • Unknown: Check if unable to determine if the car seat is expired.
  1. CS Recalled: Using the car seat information collected, identify any recalls on the car seat being used on arrival and document in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • If the recall has been repaired, document in the documentation box.
  • Unknown: Check if unable to determine if the car seat is recalled.
  1. CS History Known: Determine and document if the history of the car seat being used on arrival is known.
  2. CS Involved in a Crash: Determine and document if the car seat being used on arrival has been involved in a crash.
  • If the car seat has been involved in a crash or if the history of the car seat is unknown, consider the need to replace the car seat.
  1. CS Registered: Determine and document if the car seat being used on arrival is registered with the car seat manufacturer, using the caregiver’s current address.
  • If the car seat is not registered or if it is unknown if the car seat is registered, provide guidance to the caregiver on how to register the car seat.
  • Consider registering the car seat on-site prior to the caregiver leaving the car seat check.
  1. Child/CS Location in Vehicle: Document where the CHILD and the CAR SEAT are located in the vehicle on departure. These should be the same location in the vehicle.
  • D represents driver location.
  • 2nd Row: If the vehicle only has one back row (e.g. sedan), use this option and leave 3rd row blank.
  • 4th Row: Select this option for larger vehicles with more than three rows (e.g. 15- passenger vans). Add additional location information for the 4th row to the documentation box on page 2.
  • Demonstration Only: Check if the car seat was not installed in a vehicle on departure (e.g. no vehicle present, vehicle demonstration only, portable vehicle demonstration seat).
  • Note: Installation on a vehicle demonstration seat should only be done when no other options are available.
  1. Restraint Type: Check restraint type being used on departure. Note: If the car seat is an All-in-One, choose the option that best describes how it was installed. (e.g. Rear-Facing (RF) Convertible, Forward-Facing (FF) with Harness, Backless Booster, High Back Booster)

CS= Car Seat     RF= Rear-Facing   FF= Forward-Facing

  • RF Only without Base: Any rear-facing only car seat designed for use only by a young child in a semi-reclined rear-facing position; not permitted by manufacturer to be used forward-facing; also referred to as infant car seat; only the carrier is present.
  • RF Only with Base: Any rear-facing only car seat designed for use only by a young child in a semi-reclined rear-facing position; not permitted by manufacturer to be used forward-facing; also referred to as infant car seat; the carrier and detachable base are present.
  • Base Only: Detachable base for rear-facing only car seat; the carrier is not present.
  • RF Convertible: Car seat that can be used rear-facing and forward facing. Select this option when the car seat is being used rear-facing. For rear-facing only car seats, select RF Only without Base or RF Only with Base.
  • FF with Harness: Forward-facing car seat being used with harness including convertible, combination, all-in-one, forward-facing only, and integrated car seats.
  • High Back Booster: Booster seat (or combination or all-in-one car seat being used in the booster mode) with a shell that provides head, neck, and back support for the child; raises and positions the child using a lap-and-shoulder belt.
  • Backless Booster: Booster seat (or combination or all-in-one car seat being used in the booster mode) that uses the vehicle’s seat back or head restraint for head, neck and back support for the child; raises and positions the child using a lap-and-shoulder belt; also referred to as low-back booster seat or no-back booster seat.
  • Specialized Restraint: Car seats and booster seats obtained through a specialized provider for use with children who have special transportation needs.
  • Vest: A harness system used in place of a car seat or booster seat; work with either the vehicle seat belt system or LATCH.
  • Other: Document restraint type if it does not fit any of the options above.
  1. Child Secured Using: Select how the CHILD is secured on departure.
  • No Child Present: Select if no child is present at the car seat check.
  1. CS Installed Using: Document how the CAR SEAT is installed in the vehicle on departure; select all that apply.
  • Document additional findings in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • Uninstalled: Select if the car seat is present but not secured in a seating position (e.g. in vehicle trunk, in a box).
  • No CS: Check if a child left without a car seat. Proceed to #46.
  1. Is this the same CS as ‘On Arrival’?: Document if the same car seat is used on arrival and departure.
  • Yes: If the same car seat is used on arrival and departure, skip to #45.

39a. If no, CS provided by: Document who provided the car seat for the child on departure.

39b. Meets Eligibility Requirements: Check box if the caregiver meets the eligibility requirements to receive the car seat provided by the donor in #38a. Document any additional local information in the Documentation Box on page 2.

40.CS MFR: Document the manufacturer name of the car seat being used on departure.

  1. Model Name: Document the model name of the car seat being used on departure.
  • Leave this field blank if the car seat model name is not identified.
  1. Model Number: Document the model number of the car seat being used on departure.
  2. MFR Date (MM/DD/YYYY): Document the date of manufacture of the car seat being used on departure.
  3. Expiration Date (MM/DD/YYYY): Document the expiration date, if available, of the car seat being used on departure.
  4. CS Registered By: Document who is responsible for registering the car seat being used on departure.
  • N/A: Select if no car seat is being used on departure.
  1. Is the CS compatible with the vehicle? Document if the car seat being used at departure is compatible with the vehicle. Note: If there was any incompatibility on arrival, document issues in the Documentation Box.
  • Yes: Proceed to #47.
  • Yes, with difficulty: Select if the CS position in the vehicle had to be changed due to a compatibility issue, choose “yes” with difficulty then select response option in 46a.
  • No, need different CS: Answer #46a.
  • N/A uninstalled: Proceed to #48.

46a. What difficulties did you encounter? Select all difficulties that you encountered when installing the car seat being used on departure.

  • Other: If a description of the installation difficulty is not listed, provide a brief description in the “other” box. If more detail is necessary, describe in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  1. Child/CS Correct on Departure: Document if all corrections are made prior to departure.
  • No: Provide an explanation as to why all corrections are not made in the Documentation Box on page 2.

Circle all topics discussed with caregiver.

  • Nationally certified CPS Technicians can access the 2020 National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification Training Technician Guide (TG) for additional information about the following topics as indicated below.
  • Airbags: Location and potential danger of airbags to children and out of position occupants (TG Module 5)
  • Unused seat belts: Strangulation dangers of unused seat belts. Information is available at cpsboard.org/car-seat-safety/car-seat-safety-entanglement/
  • Projectiles: Loose objects in vehicle that can cause injury. (TG 3-2)
  • Premature transition: Potential risks from moving from rear-facing to forward-facing and harness to booster seat too soon (TG Modules 7-10)
  • Heatstroke: Prevention tips to avoid hot car deaths (TG 12-5). Additional information is available at cpsboard.org/heatstroke
  • Next steps: Change of direction from rear-facing to forward-facing, transition to next car seat stage, etc. (TG Modules 7-10)
  • Best practice vs. state law: Guidance on best practice recommendations vs. state law (TG 2-4 and 7-3)
  • Safety in and around cars: Dangers of leaving children unattended in and around cars (TG 12-5). Additional information is available at cpsboard.org/heatstroke
  • CS recycled: What to do with a car seat when it reaches its expiration date
  • Encourage caregivers to check with local recycling programs. Refer caregivers to car seat manufacturer information on car seat recycling.
  • Bulky clothing: Dangers of securing a child in a car seat with bulking winter clothing: AAP Recommendations
  • Vehicle recall: Find out if the caregiver’s vehicle has an open recall. It’s free to check and free to repair at a dealer. Visit Check to Protect.
  • Safe Sleep: Infant sleep safety recommendations available at healthchildren.org

Virtual Check

Fill in the circle if the car seat check information is being collected as part of a virtual car seat check and the form is being signed off by the technician instead of the caregiver.

  • If caregiver initials were not captured at an in-person event, enter N/A and add notes to the Documentation Box.
  1. I harnessed a child/doll in a CS: The caregiver indicates if he/she harnessed a child/doll in the car seat.
  • No: Provide explanation in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • N/A: Check if there is no child or doll present.
  1. I installed my car seat today: The caregiver indicates if he/she installed the car seat today.
  • No: Provide explanation in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • N/A: Select if the car seat is not installed in a vehicle or it is installed on a vehicle demonstration seat.
  1. Caregiver’s Initials: The caregiver acknowledges #48 and #49 by signing his/her initials.
  • For a virtual seat check, write the word VIRTUAL.
  1. Caregiver Donation: Document if the caregiver provides a donation.
  • Donation Amount: If the caregiver provides a donation, enter the donation amount.
  1. Educational materials given? Caregiver acknowledges if educational materials are provided.
  2. Final Inspection Sign Off: Document a final sign off by a senior checker, an instructor, or a Technician Proxy prior to departure, if required.
  • If not required, leave blank.

Documentation Box: Document seat check details. Do not put personal information in the box.