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New Number Plates and Licences coming 2021

New Number Plates and Licences coming 2021

The portfolio committee on Transport has asked for public comments on the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.  A closing date for submissions has been set for 20 January 2021, with the proposed changes in the bill now only set to come into effect in 2021 if the bill is passed.

The bill will introduce many new traffic and motoring-related changes including further regulations around driving schools, licences and traffic wardens.  The bill will also bring with it a total prohibition for use and consumption of alcohol for all drivers on South African roads.  The current National Road Traffic Act enables drivers who have consumed alcohol to drive a vehicle provided they are under the legal blood alcohol limit.

Driving centres 

There are a number of proposed changes for driving centres in South Africa:

  • Suspension and cancellation of the registration of an examiner for driving licenses or an examiner of vehicles, if such person has been convicted of an offence or has a direct or indirect conflict of interest;
  • The registration and grading of training centres;
  • Require relevant provincial Department or local authority responsible for transport to register a driving licence testing centre before operating as a driving licence testing centre;
  • Prohibit the use of unauthorised aid during a test for a learner’s licence or a driving licence test and disqualification;
  • Registration and grading of driving school instructors as well as driving schools.

Number plates 

Alec Moemi, Transport director-general, has said that government is planning to introduce new motor vehicle licence plates under the bill too. According to Moemi the new regulations are particularly important when identifying cars during road accidents.

“We are looking at a new system that will include the embedding of microdots into a new number plate, that will then be regulated. Manufacturers, as well as those that print out and issue them to motor vehicle owners (will also be regulated) so that number plates that are forged will be easily identified.”

Microdots, as a safety feature on South African vehicles, have seen increasing popularity  and are classified as a particle with a diameter smaller than 1.8 mm which bears a unique, optically readable microdot identifier – typically the vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number or another registered PIN.

Moemi said technology currently employed across the country’s highways, especially in Gauteng and Cape Town, as well as at the country’s borders, will be able to scan these micro-dots. Similar technology can also be deployed to scan vehicles that travel under highway bridges.

Moemi also said that new features will enable government to better understand national road usage. He said that South Africa’s traffic impact is currently calculated by department employees at intersections or by using Gauteng’s e-toll gantries.

“In this regard, these micro-dots will also help us (measure) traffic patterns and hotspots.”


The legislation,  while not mentioned in the summary of the bill, does make reference to the introduction of a new ‘provisional’ driver’s licence in South Africa.

In an October presentation to parliament, the department said that current regulations will be amended to include three types of driving licences in the country.

  • A learner’s licence;
  • A provisional driving licence;
  • A driving licence.

South Africa’s licensing system is time-based – an individual is allowed two years to get their driver’s licence after receiving a learner’s licence. Driver licensing systems are designed to provide new drivers of motor vehicles with driving experience and skills gradually over time in low-risk environments.

Drivers typically passes through three steps or stages:

  1. Acquiring a learner’s permit
  2. Progress to a provisional licence
  3. Receipt of a full driver’s licence.

Graduated drivers’ licensing generally restricts night, highway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full driver’s licence.




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