New driving licence cards for South Africa coming in 2023

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced the introduction of a new driver licence card in South Africa.

In an address on Thursday (3 February), Mbalula said the new card will feature a number of security enhancements and international recognition – meaning it can be used as a form of identification.

Following cabinet approval, the Department of Transport will undergo a procurement process, with the new licence card expected to be piloted in October 2023, he said.

The current card will be phased out over a five-year period, with the government also looking at extending the renewal period of the card from five to ten years, Mbalula said.

The Department of Transport will also launch online driving licence services from 17 February, with incentives being considered for motorists who have still not renewed their licences as part of the country’s backlog.

Backlog

South Africa currently faces a national backlog of almost 600,000 driving licences due to the country’s sole production machine being damaged.

The machine broke down in November 2021 as a result of an electrical surge caused by flooding from an adjacent building. A single component suffered damage during the surge and was sent overseas for repairs and was reinstalled on 17 January.

As of 1 February 2022, a total of 128,436 licences have been produced and the backlog now stands at 597,492. Most of the outstanding licences are from Gauteng (211,926), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (97,448).

The Department of Transport said that this backlog will take between three to four months to address, with additional downtime expected in March for preventative maintenance.

Prior to the breakdown, more than 2.8 million motorists were impacted by licencing delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and were granted exemption until 31 March 2022. Over 1.4 million of these motorists have still not renewed their expired licence cards

An additional 630,000 motorists have expired licences from the end of September and are still yet to renew – creating an expected total backlog of 2.9 million by the end of September 2022. South Africa can currently produce just over 400,000 licence cards a month at full capacity.


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New driving licence cards for South Africa coming in 2023