Do you know when your driver’s licence can (and will!) expire?

It only happens once in a while (like every five years!) but you can get fined or arrested if it’s not valid, so it’s important not to be caught out.

The renewal, while simple, is also a multi-step process requiring some paperwork, so it helps to arrive prepared.

Once you’ve checked your licence for the expiry date, or received a formal notification from the traffic department that a renewal is soon due, try our tips. They’ll help you get from “huh?” to, “ha!” so that you can apply for and receive your renewed driver’s licence without fuss or frustration.


When, then?


To make sure you aren’t caught without a valid driver’s licence, it’s best to apply for a renewal four weeks before your existing one expires. That’s because the new licence isn’t completed immediately. Check the printed expiry date on the licence itself.

If your existing driver’s licence expires and you haven’t yet applied for a renewal, you will also need to apply for a temporary driver’s licence to carry with you until the permanent one is granted. This allows you to drive in the window period between application and delivery.

Don’t confuse this with your vehicle’s licence, which is renewed annually. That’s a different document (and just as important).


What you need beforehand


Some of the requirements may take time, so it’s a good idea to allow a few days to a week to prepare the following:


  • Your South African identity document (ID) and/or South African passport (which, itself, must be valid, not expired!)
  • A certified copy of your ID or passport. This can be done by a Commissioner of Oaths at most police stations.
  • The driving licence card that is due to expire soon.
  • Black-and-white ID photographs. Check the requirements with the Driving Licence Testing Centre (DLTC), g. no smiles, possible protocol around headscarves worn for religious or cultural reasons, how many photos, etc.
  • Proof of your home address. This is usually a utility account like a rates bill.
  • If your name is not on it, ask the person whose name is on it to provide you with an official affidavit that says that you live at the address. Remember, you’re creating a connection so the utility bill must be attached to the affidavit.
  • Are you staying at an unofficial address? If you stay in an informal settlement, get a letter with an official date stamp from the area’s ward councillor.
  • The application fee. This may differ depending on the type of licence you hold.
  • OPTIONAL: wet wipes, kindle, book, crossword puzzle, sketchpad… 😊


Got the docs. Now, how does it work?


Take the documents along to a DLTC to make your application.

Some provinces (like Gauteng) allow you to book an appointment beforehand. They may also allow you to download the forms ahead of time so that you can fill them in more conveniently. Just a note that senior citizens are not obliged to book online in Gauteng. They can book in person.

It’s a good idea to call them beforehand and find out their opening hours for driver’s licence renewals, and what kinds of payment they can accept. Some may not take cash, and others might not accept debit or credit cards (or, if they do accept cards, cannot process card payments if there’s load shedding).

Sometimes it helps to get there a little before opening time so that you’re closer to the start of the queue (or at the ahead of it). But remember to do this only if it’s safe. There may not be anybody on site until just before they open. It’s also courteous to let the elderly, pregnant women or mothers with little ones, or injured and physically challenged people, go ahead of you.


Okey dokey, I’m prepared. What happens now?


Now a series of formal tests and processes take place at the DLTC to qualify you to continue driving.

Eye test – this standard test provides evidence that you see adequately to drive. You can also provide an optometrist or ophthalmologist’s test. Your eyesight may have changed, and this may change the conditions of your renewed driver’s licence.

Fingerprints – the test is fairly simple and should be quick. Expect that some or all of your fingerprints will be pressed onto an ink pad and then onto paper for you to create a suitable ‘copy’ of your fingerprint. This is where those wet wipes come in – ahem – handy.

Payment – this sets the application in motion. Make sure you keep your receipt for reference. This will link you to the application if anything goes astray.


This is great. How soon will my new licence be ready?


If all goes well, your new driver’s licence will be ready in four to six weeks. Call the DLTC to check if you’re not sure or haven’t heard from them.  If you’re collecting the new driver’s licence, take your receipt and proof of payment with you.


And the sketch pad?


That’s for fun. Some like to doodle, others to read – we included these as suggestions so that you have something to entertain you if the queue is slow. Hopefully you’ll make new friends and find that the time passes super fast.

REMEMBER: like being on the road, this is a shared journey. Being friendly, polite and patient increases positivity for everyone present.

Got a tip for ways to make the time pass faster in queues at the traffic department? Don’t hoard it, spread your wisdom with the world! Visit our Facebook page and let everyone know how you made a driver’s licence renewal easy and fun. Or just quick.


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