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 Check Form (NDCF) is a useful tool to guiding and documenting a car seat check.

This NDCF Paper Form User Guide provides guidance on how to complete version 5.0 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: Get a PDF version of the Paper Form User Guide.

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

*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.

Vehicle Information

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

  • Vehicle Make/Mfg.
  • Vehicle Model
  • Vehicle Year

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

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

Liability Statement and Caregiver Signature

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

Virtual Check

Check box if the car seat check information is being collected as part of a virtual car seat check or a virtual mock car seat sign off for recertification.

Online Form ID

Document online form ID number once car seat check information has been submitted online at carseatcheckform.org.

  • All children identified with the caregiver will have the same online form ID number.

What CPS 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.

Event

Provide a description of the event. (i.e. 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.

How did caregiver hear about the seat check?

Document how the caregiver learned about the car seat check.

On Arrival 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 proceed to #7.
  • 0<1: Select if child’s age is less than one year. Complete #1a.

1a. If child is under 1, 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. 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 7.

 CS Location in Vehicle.

  • D represents driver location.
  • No Child Present: Select if there is no child present at the time of the car seat check.
  • 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 (i.e. 15- passenger vans). Add additional location information for the 4th row to the Documentation Box on page 2.
  • 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. 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.
  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.
  • Note: If the caregiver is unsure of the child’s height and weight and the Technician is unable to measure and weigh child, document an estimated height and weight.

Document that the height and weight are estimated in the documentation box on page 2.

  1. How were height and weight collected?

Select whether the caregiver reported the child’s height and weight or if the child was measured and weighed at the car seat check.

  1. Child Secured Using

Select how the CHILD is secured on arrival.

  • If the child is using a booster seat or seat belt, answer Child Seat Belt Correct, otherwise skip to #7.

6a. Child Seat Belt Correct

Answer this question only if the child arrived in a booster seat or using a seat belt and indicate if the seat belt is being used correctly.

  • No: select all that apply.
  • 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 (i.e. 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 proceed to #34.
  • Uninstalled: Select if the car seat is present but not secured in a seating position (i.e. in vehicle trunk, in a box).
  1. CS Restraint Type

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

  • 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 Installed Using

Document the ways 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 the car seat is uninstalled, Skip to #21.
  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 is using a restraint without a harness (i.e. booster seat).
  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 (i.e. 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, i.e.: Mirrors, rattle toys, tablets, etc.

  • YES: Document additional information in the Documentation Box on page 2.
  1. CS Correct Direction Per MFG’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.

  1. CS Secured Per MFG’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, Height, and Weight per MFG’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, height, and weight requirements of the car seat.

  • Unborn Child: If there is sufficient information to complete the question, the caregiver should estimate the child’s height and weight.
  • Unknown: Check if the car seat instruction manual is unavailable and verification is not possible.

22. 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 MFG

Document the manufacturer name of the car seat being used on arrival.

  1. 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.

  1. MFG Date (MM/DD/YYYY)

Document the date of manufacture of the car seat being used on arrival.

  1. 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.

  • 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.

  1. 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 (i.e. 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 is installed on a vehicle demonstration seat, not in a vehicle.

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 an All-in-one, choose the option that best describes how it was installed. (e.g. RF Convertible, FF with Harness, Backless Booster, High Back Booster)

  • 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.
  • No CS: Check if a child left without a car seat. Proceed to #46.
  • Demonstration Only: Check if the car seat is not installed on departure (i.e. carried, placed in vehicle trunk, etc.)
  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, proceed to #44.

38a. If no, CS provided by:

Document who provided the car seat for the child on departure.

38b. 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.

39. CS MFG

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.

  1. MFG Date (MM/DD/YYYY)

Document the date of manufacture of the car seat being used on departure.

  1. Expiration Date (MM/DD/YYYY)

Document the expiration date, if available, of the car seat being used on departure.

  1. 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.

  • Yes, without difficulty: Proceed to #46.
  • Yes, with difficulty: Answer #45a.
  • No, a different car seat is/was needed: Answer #45a.

45a. 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. All corrections made prior to departure?

Document if all corrections are made to the car seat prior to departure.

  • No: Provide an explanation as to why all corrections are not made in the Documentation Box on page 2.

Technicians Discussed

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 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 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 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

Caregiver Sign Off

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.

  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 #47 and #48 by signing his/her initials.

  • For a virtual seat check, write the word
  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.

  1. 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.