There is a lot of confusion regarding the conversion of foreign drivers licenses to a South African, especially regarding the time period in which one is obliged to do so, as well as if you get to keep your foreign license.
How does it work and what do you need to know?
Firstly, you must have received permanent residence in South Africa. We strongly recommend applying for an SA ID book first as this will make the process a lot faster, although not compulsory.
You then have five years from the date of issuance of your Permanent residence to apply for a conversion of your foreign license to a South African one according to the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 of South Africa.
Failure to do so will result in you driving without a valid license and may, in the event of an accident, lead to a loss of insurance cover due to unlawfulness.
What documents do you need?
- Foreign driving license
- South African ID book (if applicable)
- Confirmation letter (see below)
- 4 x passport photos
- License application fee (R135.00)
Please do not forget:
Your foreign driving license must either be
a) a valid international drivers license,
b) a valid foreign drivers license which has a photo and a signature and is in one of the official South African languages (English for example),
c) a valid foreign drivers license which has a photo and a signature not in an official South African language, but accompanied with a translation and confirmation letter from your embassy or consulate verifying the validity of the license.
Please note that this confirmation letter is different to the one mentioned above and described below.
The confirmation letter stated above in the checklist is only obtainable from the Department of Transport and Public Works. For those of you in and around the Cape Town area, the office is located at: Room 4, 1st Floor, 9 Dorp street, Cape Town 8000. The process is quite simple and requires you to fill in a short application form.
Once you have all the above, you can appear at your nearest traffic department for the conversion. You will need to have an eye test done, as well as fill in the application form at the traffic department.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to surrender your foreign license any more and, after roughly 6 – 10 weeks, you should receive a message stating that your license is ready for collection.