Understanding car registration vs licence renewals

As a driver, you should understand the difference between car registration, annual licence renewal and renewing your driving licence.

When you register your car with the Department of Transport, you’re recording all the vehicle’s information and your identity details as the owner on the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS), also known as eNatis. This is the process of motor vehicle registration, to identify you as the owner of the vehicle. As proof that the vehicle is registered, you’ll receive a licence disc to display on the windscreen.

How to register your motor vehicle 

If you’ve financed your vehicle, the financing institution will be the titleholder. But when you own the vehicle outright, you are the titleholder and responsible for the registration process. You must register your vehicle in your name to obtain a registration certificate. 

To register a new vehicle, you need to submit the following documents to the registering authority in your district

  • Your ID.
  • Proof of residential address, such as an account statement or electricity bill. If the account is not in your name, you’ll also need to provide an affidavit from the addressee of the account declaring that you live at the address. If you live in an informal settlement, a letter from the ward councillor with an official date stamp confirming your residential address will be required.
  • The manufacturer’s certificate (and a roadworthy certificate if applicable).
  • A completed Application for Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicle (RLV) form.

If you are registering a used vehicle, the seller must first submit a Notification of Change of Ownership (NCO) form. Then, along with the documents already mentioned, you must provide proof of purchase and a valid motor vehicle licence.

There are additional steps involved in registering a vehicle built from parts or a modified vehicle, like introducing the vehicle record on eNaTIS and a roadworthy test for vehicles built from parts. A letter of authority is also sometimes required for both processes. 

To register a vehicle built from parts, you will need additional documents

  • An affidavit confirming where the parts came from.
  • A request for police clearance.
  • A request for police identification.
  • A weighbridge certificate. 

When registering a modified vehicle, you also need these documents

  • A roadworthiness certificate.
  • A manufacturer’s certificate, previous registration certificate or affidavit. 

You have 21 days from the date of ownership transfer to register and license your vehicle, or you’ll be liable for arrears and penalties. Your registration may become null and void if your vehicle is declared permanently unfit for use, repossessed for more than 31 days, or issued a deregistration certificate.


No matter where you renew your driving licence, you will have to take an eye test


Renewing your motor vehicle licence

You must renew your motor vehicle licence and get a new licence disc every year, and the penalties for failing to do so can include fines, the impounding of the vehicle, or even imprisonment. If you fail to renew your licence for 4 years or more, it will lapse, and you will need to register the vehicle from scratch again, including a roadworthy test.

You can renew your licence at your nearest registering authority or a selected post office up to 21 days after the expiry date of your current licence disc. For heavy-load vehicles and public transport, a roadworthiness certificate is required for bi-annual motor vehicle licence renewal.

To renew a licence for a vehicle registered under your name, you need to present the following documents

  • Your ID.
  • Proof of residential address (as above).
  • Your motor vehicle licence renewal notice (MVL2). 
  • If the renewal notice is missing, the Application for Licensing of Motor Vehicle form (ALV).

For a vehicle registered under an organisation or company name, you need to present the following

  • The business certificate of the organisation or company.
  • The ID of the proxy.
  • A letter of proxy.
  • The MVL2. 

After having provided the necessary documents, you must pay the licence fee specified in the notification.


Alternative ways to renew your motor vehicle licence

Natis Online Services is a convenient alternative to standing in queues. There are no added costs if you apply for licence renewal online, and the new disc will be couriered to your address.

Pick n Pay offers a convenient service for renewing your vehicle licence disc. You can register online and pay online or in-store at Pick n Pay tillpoints. This service is available for all areas in South Africa and includes renewal notifications to remind you before your current disc expires. You can also pay any outstanding fines that could be blocking your disc renewal in the same payment. You can expect to receive your vehicle licence disc via courier within 10 business days. 

Renew Online is also an option for those in Gauteng and Limpopo. They’ve teamed up with various outlets like Spar and Checkers to make the process smoother. You can either go to one of the selected retail outlets or complete the process online on their website. The system automatically generates the cost of renewal based on your vehicle’s category, tare, and expiry date. The company charges an administration and delivery fee. 

Renewing your driving licence

You must renew your driving licence every 5 years. Go to your nearest driving licence testing centre (DLTC) with the following documents:

  • Your ID, old driving licence card, or valid South African passport.
  • 4 black-and-white ID photographs (check with the DLTC to confirm how many photos they require).
  • Proof of your residential address (as above).

You will also have to pay the prescribed application fee.

However, if you are a Gauteng resident, you’ll need to complete the renewal application online at https://online.natis.gov.za/#/

No matter where you renew your driving licence, you will have to take an eye test. You can do this at an optometrist of your choice and bring the results to the DLTC, or just have it done on-site.