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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