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Driver’s licence Renewal — What Should You Pay Attention To?

Renewing your driver’s license? Here’s what you need to know.




If you need to renew your driver’s license, you may find that a challenge that lies ahead. With over 500,000 South African licenses currently sitting in a backlog, broken printers, corruption, and a transition in the mix, the license renewal system in our country isn’t exactly on top form.

However, if renewing your license is a top priority right now, you must pay attention to these important matters.

What Is the South African Driver’s License Renewal Process?

According to the South African government’s website, you must normally renew your driving license card four weeks before it expires. If you renew it after the expiration date, you will have to pay for a temporary driving licence at an extra cost until your actual driving license is delivered.

When renewing your license, you won’t need to redo your driver’s test, but you’ll need to pass an eye test. You can have your eyes tested by an optometrist and submit the results to the driving licence testing centre (DLTC). New conditions may be attached to your license if your eyes have deteriorated since your initial test.

To help things run smoothly, take the following to your appointment:

  • Your identity document or passport and a copy.
  • Your old driver’s license or an affidavit stating it was lost or stolen.
  • Four black and white ID photographs.
  • Proof of address.
  • Your application fee.

The Current Challenges You’ll Face

While the system seems simple enough, receiving your license once it’s renewed in 2022 may take much longer than you’d think. Therefore, pay attention to opting for a temporary license if you want to drive around with peace of mind.

After 20 years, South Africa’s only licence card printing machine broke down in November 2021. It has been sent for repairs in Germany while the government makes moves towards introducing a new-look license card. The new cards will require an upgrade in machinery, but in the meantime, the system sits with a backlog of over 600 000 licenses.

As South Africans anxiously wait to receive their renewed licenses, there is yet to be Cabinet approval of the new card. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has requested that President Cyril Ramaposa fastrack the process.

As a result, it’s been reported that driver license testing facilities have huge capacity issues and bribery by officials attempting to obtain payoffs. This has exacerbated further long-standing difficulties such as the absence of online systems and faulty equipment at testing centres, resulting in lengthy waiting periods.

What’s Being Done to Address the Backlog?

While the government is implementing new measures to reduce South Africa’s driver’s licence backlog, there is concern my minestry that not enough drivers take advantage of the extended grace period for licence renewals.

In August, the minister announced that driver’s licenses that had expired between March 26, 2021, and August 31, 2021, will be extended until the end of March 2022. This includes learner’s permits, driving licences, temporary driving licences, and professional driver’s permits.

What Will the New Card Look Like?

According to tender documents published in November 2021, the new license card will have similar information to its predecessor. The information on the front will include your full name, ID number, date of birth, gender, your photo, and signature. Furthermore, the card will include its expiry date, the date of issue, your licence number, and the vehicle code you qualify for.

However, the new card is not exactly the same and does have some fantastic new security features. Every license will come with an engraved, secondary image of the cardholder’s face with a unique security background and micro text. Your new card will be manufactured using polycarbonate and include a pre-printed serial number for stock purposes.

The back of the card will include a unique serial number in barcode format and information on any applied driver or vehicle restrictions. To further increase security, there is a QR code and “ghost image” on this side as well.

Finally, the new cards do not appear to include a fingerprint reader, but the old ones do.

In Conclusion

With the new card being developed, a major backlog, corruption, and overrun centres, as things currently stand, you’re unlikely to successfully renew your driver’s license any time soon. Luckily, there is a current grace period. If you’re feeling brave, you can try to visit your local DLTC to get a temporary license. Alternatively, you can try to renew your driver’s while you’re there, but you’ll likely need to wait an extended period before it’s ready for collection.

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