How to renew your South African drivers license

I have just got back from renewing my drivers license at the Hillstar Traffic Department in Cape Town. With visions of long queues, tedious forms, and a complicated and slow eNaTS computer system, I was dreading the experience. Well, to my utter surprise, it was nothing like that. It was a fast and painless experience.

In theory, my new license will be ready in 6-8 weeks.

south-african-drivers-license

So, here is the process.

What do you need to bring?

  1. 2x passport photos (preferably black and white, but colour seems to be fine)
  2. R100 fee R140 (as at July 2011)
  3. a black pen (they don’t have any there)
  4. Your old drivers license and your ID book
  5. book / magazine / ipod etc

What is the best time to renew?

I can only get there on a Friday, so all the details below relate to a Friday experience. I originally arrived at about 12:00pm, and they were very busy, it clearly was not going to get less busy in the afternoon, so I left. Yes I admit that lunch time is probably not the best time to renew.

Next time, I arrived at about 8:30am, and they were not very busy. In total, it took me about an hour from start to finish, which was not too bad. However, when I left at 9:30am, they were almost empty, so I think that about 9:30-10am would probably be the best time.

They are open from 7:45am until 3:00pm, but they did warn that if the queue’s are too long, they will close the doors earlier, so be careful.

What is the process?

  1. Stand in the reception queue – they will give you whatever forms you need (the green form for drivers license renewal)
  2. Go to the eye test/fingerprint queue. You can fill out your form while you wait. It is quite long but moves reasonably quickly. The eye test and fingerprinting is done at the same time.
  3. Pay at the cashiers desk. Keep the receipt, because it extends the validity of your current drivers license by 2 months should the new license not arrive before your old one expires.
  4. They will send you a postcard when your new license is ready – in theory in about 6-8 weeks. Update (13 Feb 2009) After three months, I was still waiting and had not received notification. So, on the off change that it was ready I went to the collections dept. Sure enough, it was ready, and I was told that they had stopped sending out notification. So, don’t hold your breath waiting for any postcard, whatever they tell you! Oh, and there was no queue at collections.

That’s it  – easy and painless.

By the way, don’t bother trying to phone them – the phone just rings.

Note: please read the comments below for feedback from people who have recently renewed their licenses.

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39 Responses to How to renew your South African drivers license

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, Craig.

    I also had a positive experience. We live in a lovely country. People all try their very best to work with a system that is a bit broken. One needs to bear that in mind as one processes life.

    And processing life entails long walks on the beach, and gazing up and mountains too tall, as we get older, to climb.

    The one gift that South Africa offers to each and every person who experiences our weird and wonderful culture is space to live and to breathe.

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  • Ansu says:

    Hi! Thank you very much. This has been very helpful. Wish me luck, I am going to renew my license in Pretoria today and can only hope it will go as smooth as it has in your experience!

  • Craig Strachan says:

    Good luck; let me know how it goes.

  • sara says:

    Hi

    Ansu

    Where in Pretoria are u going to go too?

    do you have details for me?

  • Sue Plumbridge says:

    Thanks very much for this information. I have been trying to find out what times they are open as I will be going next week on Friday to renew my licence.

    Sue Plumbridge

  • Craig says:

    Pleasure Sue. Hope, it is not too stressful.

  • dumisani says:

    Tomorrow which is 06/07/2011 am going to renew my drivers license in cape town which is expiring the ff week, I completely forget about it wish me good luck please.

  • dumisani says:

    Well well everything went very very well yesterday I arrived ar0und 12pm went to de enquires they ask 1 photograph of me then went for eye testing waited abt 30min because there was a lot ppl in front of me then to cashiers waited abt 20 mins then I pay R140 cash then it was it simple and quick.U need to bring ur ID,photo of urself,R140 no problem.Thanks for the info appreciated very much.

  • Craig Strachan says:

    Thanks, glad it went smoothly, hope they take quick to issue your card. Although I notice that in 3 years it has gone up from R100 to R140, oh well!

  • Robert says:

    Thanks, for all this lovely info. Just need a map to either Plantation Road (Hillstar) and there is apparently a new place near to PicknPay Hyper Ottery (know where that is, anybody know where in relationship to PicknPay)

    • Craig says:

      Good luck, let me know if you find a map and I will add it.

      • Robert says:

        Hi Craig
        Went and got it all quick and easy thanks. A couple of things (11Jul2011). 1) the offical City of CT site has a downloadable form – it is out of date and has not been replaced on the site. 2) the location of the Ottery drivers licence place (no map found but it is easy to find) Go East along Ottery Road (from Wynberg area). Go past the turn off to Hill Star (Plantation Road) Go past PicknPay Hyper on the left (Hyper on your right) Go through (minor) Robots. Turn left a next (major) Robots and soon see it on the right easy to identify. 3) If you are lucky to get attended to at one of their new machines it is all modern technology then no Photos are required and no inked-up thumbs.

        • Craig Strachan says:

          Thanks Robert

          Glad you found it, and also that they are modernizing. Hope your licence arrives ok. Thanks for helping to keep this page updated.

          Craig

  • Karin says:

    I am planning an overseas trip at the end of September and went to get my International Drivers Permit from the AA today – I was shocked when the lady told me my drivers licence expires at the beginning of September! Can five years really go by so quick!? So tomorrow morning I’m off to do the dreaded renewal at Centurion. Wish me luck!

  • ruan says:

    I have to go soon, my lisence expired a month ago and I only realised it last night, what will the fine be?

  • Pierre Marais says:

    what a wonderful experience i just had at Parow branch
    walked in at 14H15 and out by 14H55
    R140 poorer but renewed my drivers license which expires next month
    no photo required
    they have the new system which works like a charm and the 2 ladies were great
    big thumbs up to Parow

    • Tasneem says:

      Just got back from parow traffic department. Arrived at 11:45 (approximately). Left at 14:15. The line to get the renewal form was quite quick, about 10min or less. The line for the eye-test and fingerprinting was the holdup. Two staff in the room, with an eye-test machine, finger print scanner, and signature tablet. That whole process took 5 minutes. The time it took to get TO that room… NOT WORHT THE TROUBLE! There were about 15 or so people ahead of me in the queue, and these staffers take 15 min per person. When questioning a cashier, while waiting in line, I was told that ‘the machines are slow’, but that there IS someone in the eye-testing room… When another queuer questioned a different staffer, he was told that there were new systems and machines in place, and that the staffers were not trained on the systems, hence the long wait… Every person was grumbling and groaning in the queue over the unnecessary wasting of our time. Also, what they DON’T tell you when you finally MAKE it to the eye-testing room, is that the digital photo they take is the one that goes ON YOUR CARD! By the time I got to the cashier, I saw the digital photo, and I asked the cashier to confirm which photo would be used. NOT the one you take by the ID kiosk outside, they only use ONE of the four, and this they paste onto your green form. I literally blew my top. After all that waiting, and irritation, to be told this. I paid for my renewal and walked out. Then I got called back, as I didn’t get my receipt yet. The cashier was irate as she was talking to me and I had “just walked away”… ya right, I thought she was done… Then a whole screaming match ensued… Its not her fault we stand in long queues… She doesn’t do eye-testing and its not her problem, its mine. By now, I’m over the top mad at all of them! Then it was down to “if you keep up that attitute, we won’t process your forms”… to which I replied “you don’t have that power, you just work here (that highly amused her…) . I said they just will, I had already paid for my forms, and they WILL process it!”. To which she replied “I can give you your money back… “. Finally I left, highly upset at all these irresponsible incompetents… And they get away with it, is adding insult to injury. I thought I would contact their supervisor and lay a complaint. About 10min later, I get a call FROM the supervisor, asking me how could I speak to her cashier like that… THATs when I told her of the long delays, FOR SUCH A SHORT QUEUE, its disgusting!!! She asked why I didnt find out what was causing the delays, to which I replied that I had, so did another and 2 different reasons were given. The manager seemed to understand all the frustration that led to the eventual blowup with the cashier. However, I will NEVER return to this traffic department. Effecient and professional MY FOOT! ( as an aside, when I finally got into the eye-testing room, the other lady helping the gentleman next to me, was on her cellphone, having a long discussion about banking transactions, and something to do with her son, WHILE the poor guy was waiting to get his eye-test done… how’s THAT for professional…)

  • Craig Strachan says:

    Great, glad they gave you a good experience.

  • ali says:

    anyone know WHERE to go in JHB?

  • Robert says:

    can i renew my drivers license card with a passport, i seem to have mislaid my ID book?

  • Craig Strachan says:

    I don’t know, but I imagine it will be ok.

  • John Kahts says:

    If I had a drivers licence since 1979 and never renewed to the card system, is there any chance I can get a card licence without going through all the rigmarole of learners etc.? Anyone that can Help?

    • Craig says:

      I suspect that you will have to do the whole thing again if it has been so long, but you would have to check with the traffic dept.

      • Ted Jansen says:

        I had one from 1979 and because I moved to Australia i did not even know there was a new system. However I was told to contact the Traffic Authorities at 44 Wale Street in Cape Town because my first License was issued in Green Point. I had to get a letter from my Australian employer to state that I had been overseas for 30 years in his employ. After getting all the details I went to 44 Wale street in Cape Town when I was on holidays over there. It all got sorted out. I was given a letter from the traffic office at 44 Wale Street and told to go to a traffic branch in the suburbs to actually renew my licence. All done now.
        Any more questions contact me on Ted.Jansen@riotinto.com.au. Regards Ted
        I enjoy reading all these comments from everybody. God Bless you nice guys.

  • claudine says:

    My bag was stolen with ID and Licence. What will it cost to renew? What should I bring with?

  • HELEN says:

    i never went for change to card system so i want to know can i go get a card? but my argument is that if it is taken away and i must go again, therefore for the new id card that is coming in to system that if you do not go for that, what the??? will they deport you or take your citizenship away then?? so why if i must, must i go again for license, it wasnt revoked for any other reason…..

  • Ted Jansen says:

    I live overseas and should get my Cape town Licence renewed on 1st January 2014. I may only make it to Cape Town a few months later. This means my present licence will be expired. Will I be allowed renewal without a practical driving Test?

  • Marinda says:

    I would like to find out should you move from S.A. to overseas is your Code 10 drivers license still valid or do you need to redo it there?

  • Kaybee says:

    Hi all, I want to renew my driver’s license, will I be able to do so without paying my traffic fines or will I be able to succesfully renew it without paying the fines first? Please help a brother out!thank you in advance

  • Bob Brough says:

    I received a driving licence card renewal notice. can I renew at komatipoort or shall I have to go to Nelspruit where it was renewed before?

  • Luleka says:

    My drivers licence expired on 2010,do i have any chances of getting it renewed?

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