In all likelihood, one of the first things that you do in South Africa will be to buy a car. Whether for business purposes or for family leisure, it is not always easy to move around in South Africa without your won vehicle. Public transport is restricted to areas where there is high demand, and is not always comfortable. On the other hand, you may also rent a vehicle until such time as you make a purchase.
Registration of the vehicle
The most important step in buying a vehicle, whether from a new car dealer or second-hand from another person, is to register the vehicle in your name. This is legally obligatory. This is called “licensing” the vehicle, and it needs to be renewed every year. There is no standard licence fee in South Africa, as it varies from province to province. It also depends on the vehicle’s weight.
In order to license your vehicle for the first time in your name, you will require the following:
- Original registration certificate – the owner of the vehicle should be able to supply this to you
- The full names, ID (or passport) number, and contact telephone number of the seller
- A roadworthy certificate, which can be obtained at any Traffic Department office
- The ID book (or passport) of the buyer
- The relevant application form for licensing of a vehicle, obtainable at any Traffic Department office
- The licensing fee, calculated according to the category and net weight (tare) of the vehicle – the weight should only be a factor where the vehicle’s net weight (tare) exceeds 3500kg (7500lbs)
It is a legal requirement in South Africa for any vehicle used on public roads to be roadworthy. The Traffic Department is allowed to stop and impound on sight any vehicle that does not meet this requirement. Therefore, when purchasing a vehicle, you should insist on seeing the roadworthy certificate.
However, if no certificate is forthcoming, you may take the vehicle to any Traffic Department office to have it tested. There are also private facilities that do this. The certificate is valid for 6 months. If a car has been unlicensed for any period of time, it is necessary to have it tested again.
In order to have a vehicle tested you will be required to produce the original registration document of the vehicle as well as a valid driver’s licence.
An international driver’s licence is valid on South African roads. You may also use the licence issued in your country of origin, as long as you have obtained a supporting affidavit to the effect that your licence is valid in South Africa. It is best to consult the local Traffic Department if you are not sure about this.
However, if you are applying for permanent residence, you should keep in mind that, once your residence permit has been issued, you are required to obtain a South African driver’s licence within 12 months.