Comprehensive Guide to CAO Applications in South Africa

The Central Applications Office (CAO) handles applications for various universities, universities of technology, and TVET colleges in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This guide provides detailed information on the application process for 2025, including key dates, steps for applying, checking application status, and other relevant details.

1. Key Dates for CAO Applications 2025

  • Application Opening Date: Applications for 2025 typically open in March of the preceding year (2024). Exact dates will be published on the CAO website.
  • Early Application Closing Date: The closing date for early applications is usually at the end of September 2024.
  • Late Application Closing Date: Late applications are generally accepted until January 2025, but specific deadlines may vary by institution and program.

2. How to Apply

Step 1: Obtain the CAO Handbook
  • Download Online: The CAO Handbook can be downloaded from the CAO website CAO Handbook 2025.
  • Physical Copy: Hard copies are available at participating institutions and selected bookstores.

The handbook contains important information about available programs, entry requirements, and application procedures.

Step 2: Prepare Required Documents

Before starting your application, ensure you have the following documents ready:

  • Certified copy of your ID or passport
  • Certified copies of your academic transcripts and certificates
  • Proof of payment for the application fee
Step 3: Complete the Application Form

You can apply to the CAO either online or by submitting a paper application form.

Online Application
  1. Visit the CAO Website: Go to CAO Website.
  2. Create an Account: Register by providing your personal details and creating a username and password.
  3. Fill Out the Form: Log in and complete the online application form, providing all required information about your personal details, academic history, and program choices.
  4. Upload Documents: Upload the necessary documents as specified.
  5. Pay Application Fee: Pay the non-refundable application fee via the online payment options available.
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Paper Application
  1. Download and Print the Form: Download the application form from the CAO website or obtain a hard copy from a participating institution.
  2. Fill Out the Form: Complete the form manually, ensuring all details are accurate.
  3. Attach Documents: Include certified copies of all required documents.
  4. Pay Application Fee: Attach proof of payment of the application fee.
  5. Submit the Form: Mail or deliver the completed form and documents to the CAO office.
Step 4: Choose Your Programs

You can apply for multiple programs through the CAO. Applicants are allowed to list up to six program choices in order of preference. Ensure you meet the minimum entry requirements for each program.

3. Checking Your Application Status

  1. Online Status Check:
  • Visit the CAO Website: Log in to your account on the CAO website.
  • Application Status: Navigate to the section where you can view the status of your application and see updates or additional requirements from institutions.
  1. SMS Service: You can also check your application status by sending an SMS with your CAO number to a specified number (details available on the CAO website).
  2. Contact CAO: If you have any issues or need further assistance, you can contact the CAO directly via email ( or phone (031 268 4444).

4. Important Considerations

Application Fee
  • Amount: The application fee for early applications is generally lower than for late applications. Refer to the CAO Handbook for the exact fees.
  • Payment Methods: Fees can be paid via bank deposit, EFT, or online payment methods as specified by the CAO.
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Program Changes
  • Changing Program Choices: You can change your program choices by logging into your CAO account or submitting a written request before the application closing date. Fees may apply for changes made after submission.
Supporting Documents
  • Ensure that all documents are certified copies and are legible. Incorrect or incomplete documents can delay the processing of your application.
Communication from CAO
  • Email and SMS: Regularly check your email and phone for updates or requests for additional information from the CAO or the institutions you’ve applied to.
  • Online Account: Log into your CAO account frequently to stay updated on your application status and any additional steps you need to take.

5. After Application Submission

Offers and Responses
  • Receiving Offers: Institutions will review applications and make offers to successful candidates. These offers will be communicated through the CAO portal.
  • Accepting Offers: Follow the instructions provided to accept an offer. Some institutions may require you to confirm your acceptance by a certain date.
  • Once you accept an offer, the respective institution will provide information on the registration process, including dates, fees, and required documentation.

Contact Information

For further assistance, you can contact the CAO:

  • CAO Call Centre: 031 268 4444
  • Email:
  • Website: CAO Official Website
  • Postal Address: Central Applications Office, Private Bag X06, Dalbridge, 4014

By following this guide, you can efficiently navigate the CAO application process for 2025 and increase your chances of securing a place in your desired program.