New driving licence renewal system for South Africa coming in 2023

The Department of Transport says that its ‘smart enrolment’ trial in certain testing centres this year proved to be a success, with the plans to roll out the system to the rest of the country in 2023.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that the smart enrolment solution was successfully piloted at the Waterfall and Eco-Park Centurion Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs), and the system will go live in Gauteng in March 2023 before being fully deployed to other provinces.

The system was launched on trial basis to address the growing driving licence backlog in the country. Tests conducted by MyBroadband found that DLTCs where the system was being used had the best availability for licence renewals.

Motorists who need to book a licence or renewal do so on the eNatis website, where they select a preferred centre and timeslot. Once the booking is completed, they show up at the allotted time and complete the process.

The smart enrolment system assists with the capturing of details during the booking, integrating directly with Home Affairs, ensuring that the photos, fingerprints and other information is checked and captured in real-time.

This sidesteps the problem of having to show up and stand in long queues hoping to get services and waiting for lengthy data capture to take place. BusinessTech recently tested the renewal process at the Waterfall DLTC and managed to complete a licence renewal in 20 minutes.

WATCH: CEO of @TrafficRTMC Adv.Msibi explaining how the smart Enrollment unit works.

A new Innovation introduced. #DLCA @MbalulaFikile @GovernmentZA pic.twitter.com/OAhi7zuydn

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— Department of Transport (@Dotransport) September 2, 2022

Mbalula said that, to date, the department has managed to process and produce in excess of 2 million cards, dealing with the backlog.

“Not only have we been able to reduce the turn-around time for our card production to pre-Covid levels, we have now improved on those levels. We have successfully reduced the waiting period for a driving licence card from 58 working days in April 2022 to 10 working days in July 2022,” he said.

Despite this progress, he said that some 1.2 million motorists are still on the roads with expired licences.

“This goes against the grain of our efforts to arrest carnage on our roads. One of the biggest contributors to this carnage is driver competence. We will, therefore, up the ante in our law enforcement efforts in order to bring to book these wayward motorists who have no regard for the law or the safety of others on the road,” he said.

He said that three-quarters (67%) of those who have not renewed their driving licences are between the ages of 25 and 50 years; 15% between the ages of 50 and 60 years; 17% above 60.

The most compliant groups are those 25 years and younger, who account for only 1% of drivers who have yet to renew their driving licences, he said.

“Our investigations have revealed that the vast majority of those who are not renewing their licences have infringements,” he said.

New licences

In a statement on Thursday, Cabinet said the technology has since evolved, and it is becoming expensive to maintain the current infrastructure.

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“The new proposed card will make the country’s driving licence compatible with the International Information Technology Personal Identification Compliant Driving Licence (ISO18013),” Cabinet said.

Mbalula said the department would publish the changes to the driver’s licence card in the government gazette, with a procurement process for the new production infrastructure beginning next month.

A pilot phase of the new card would begin on 1 November, running through to 31 March 2024.

“The current driver’s licence card and the equipment used to produce it will be decommissioned on April 1 2024,” Mbalula said. “However, there will be a five-year period of transition from the old card to the new one. The current cards will continue to be recognised as valid until March 31 2029.”

The transport minister has also said that his department is ready to look at amending the five-year validity period that currently applies to driver’s licence cards in South Africa.