A driver’s licence in South Africa needs to be renewed every five years, which used to involve gathering a bunch of documents, standing in line at a licencing centre, and hoping that you were successful at the end of a long day.

Thankfully the process has changed somewhat in previous years and, after renewing a view licences ourselves lately, we’ve gathered up a few key piece of information to know before  you attempt it yourself.

It’s worth noting that the information in this article is correct at the time of publication, but you may experience slight variations during your process. We can only chalk this up to differences between licencing departments.

1.You can book online

While lining up for hours was historically the worst part of this process, the government has thankfully created a way to book a place ahead of time. They’re leaning on this system so heavily, in fact, that some licencing departments will refuse to help you if you show up without an appointment.

Head to online.natis.gov.za to book your place. While the website is relatively easy to use, it is not very accurate with the times and dates of open bookings being sparsely populated and sometimes completely incorrect. We’ve personally experienced a successful booking which we arrived for, only to find the licencing department closed when we arrived.

See our full guide for this matter here, and keep refreshing the site until you find a booking that suits you.

This option may not be available to you depending on which province you live in, but is working in Gauteng.

2. A regular licence renewal costs R228

Having the right money and documents on hand can be stressful, and R228 is the exact amount we have paid several times now. Some licencing departments only accept cash, while others will only take debit or credit cards. We suggest having all options on you when you arrive.

Aside from money you usually need: your ID book, a photocopy of that ID book, and two ID photos. A few times now we’ve seen and been told that the department does not actually need those two photos for this process, but we suggest keeping some on you just in case.

3. SMS to check the status of your renewal

Once you’ve successfully renewed your licence the long wait for a new card can be excruciating. There is an option to check on the progress of the new card, but it costs money and is not always accurated.

SMSing your ID number to 33214 will result in a reply message with an update on your card.

These messages are very vague and sometimes unreliable, so see our separate guide for this part here.

Also note that the SMSes to this number are not free. It’s also worth noting that because this is a premium SMS service if you are on a post-paid contract, you will not be able to send an SMS to the number above.

4. Someone else can collect your new licence for you

If your application for renewal is successful, you will receive a slip of paper confirming as much. This slip of paper must be presented with an expired driver’s licence card when requested by authorities, but it also has another use.

On the back of this slip of paper there is an affidavit which can be filled out, granting another person the right to collect your new licence on your behalf.

We’ve been informed that the affidavit is sometimes not printed, so double check yours before leaving the licence department.

5. The eye test can be taken beforehand

As part of the process to renew your driver’s licence, an eye test will be administered by the licencing department. Failing this test automatically ends the renewal process, and there is a decent chance that many people may experience eyesight degradation in the five year period that a licence is valid.

This test, however, can also be performed by a qualified optometrist. A passing test will result in the optometrist awarding you a certified form that you can present at the licencing department in lieu of the department administering the test themselves.

Aside from speeding up the process of the renewal, it is a safety net to prevent the failure of the entire renewal process. It’s better to find out that you need glasses at an optometrist’s office, than at the licencing department.

An example of the form that the optometrist needs to give you has been provided below. Please note that we have significantly edited the form to prevent duplication, but it is still sufficient to make sure that you’re getting the right form.

This certificate has been blurred, cropped and edited in other ways to obfuscate the details, and is purely for illustrative purposes to ensure that you acquire the correct form.