Driver’s licences

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula recently confirmed that South Africa would get new driver’s licence cards that are aligned with international best practices.

Tender documents published in November 2021 reveal how the new card will look like. The front of the card will contain details of the driver, including name, gender, date of birth, ID number, and information regarding the licence itself, such as date of issue, code, licence number, and card validity period. A photo of the licence holder will be shown on the front of the card, along with their signature.

According to the tender proposal, the card body will be manufactured from 100% polycarbonate material, for which the security elements are specifically designed. The card body will also contain a pre-printed serial number for stock control purposes. A secondary image of the licence holder’s face will be engraved during the personalization process, and additional security features such as micro text and tactile features will be included.

According to the tender, the card printer must therefore have the capability to laser engrave a colour or greyscale image of the licence holder. A security background will also overlap with the image of the licence holder. The card’s serial number will be printed in barcode format on the reverse side. The back of the card will also feature a QR code and a ghost image.

Mbalula said the only hurdle to introducing the revamped driver’s licence and procuring a new card printer is obtaining Cabinet approval. The minister said he had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa for an opportunity to fast-track the process at any Cabinet meeting. He also said that he would soon announce interim measures to deal with the massive backlog of expiring driver’s licences in South Africa.

“I’m going to be announcing the temporary measures with regards to the temporary licence, but we are moving ahead at full speed with the new driver’s licence card, which I will also announce in public,” Mbalula said. The government’s plans include bringing a new driver’s licence printing machine into the country, as the current one is old and currently in Germany for repairs.

“The machine that produces driver’s licences is the old machine. No other country in the world is still using that machine, that is why we are producing a new card. There is going to be a new card and a new machine, which is at par with the developed world,” Mbalula added.

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