Driving License

Highway, car, travel, traffic

South Africa recognizes the Austrian driving licence (with attached translation of that licence in an official South African language) and the international driving licence.

Permanent residents have to change their Austrian driving licence into a South African one within one year.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) issued in any country other than South Africa (RSA), is valid to drive with in the RSA if:

  • The IDP was issued on a date on which the holder thereof has not been permanently or ordinarily resident in the RSA. A person is permanently resident in the RSA if he/she is a RSA citizen, or disposes over an official document issued by the Department of Home affairs that grants the right to permanently reside in the RSA, and he/she resides in the RSA. Contract workers and visitors are not permanently resident in the RSA if they do not comply with the aforementioned conditions, regardless of the length of their stay in the RSA and therefore the IDP will be valid until expiry. A person is ordinarily resident in the RSA if he/she is in the RSA on an extended visit of more than three months on a contract of employment (not just visiting); and
  • The IDP is accompanied by the driving licence on the authority of which such permit was issued. The driving licence may have been issued at any time even if the person resided permanently in the RSA at the time the licence was issued and may be in any foreign language and without a photograph and signature; and
  • The IDP is valid (i.e. it has not expired yet). An IDP remains valid until the expiry date of the IDP OR until the driving licence on the authority of which such permit was issued is no longer valid OR until the holder thereof has been permanently resident for a continuous period of 1 year in the RSA, whichever is earlier.

A driving licence issued in any country other than South Africa (RSA), is valid to drive with in the RSA if:

  • The foreign driving licence was issued on a date on which the holder thereof has not been permanently or ordinarily resident in the RSA. A person is permanently resident in the RSA if he/she is a RSA citizen, or disposes over the right to permanently reside in the RSA based on an official document issued by the Department of Home Affairs, and he/she resides in the RSA. A person is ordinarily resident in the RSA if he/she is in the RSA on an extended visit of more than three months on a contract of employment (not just visiting). The permanent residence requirement does not apply to a holder of a diplomatic permit or a treaty permit; and
  • The licence is in English OR a translation of the licence in English is attached to the licence OR a certificate of authenticity or validity in English which was issued by a competent authority (e.g. the Embassy or Consulate) of the country concerned, is attached to the licence. The legislation does not prescribe who should attach a translation or a certificate of authenticity or validity to a driving licence, how it should be attached or when it should have been attached. The legislation also does not prescribe that the translation should state the capacity of vehicle the licence authorises. The code of the licence does not necessarily relate to a South African licence code, and therefore should describe the capacity of vehicle the licence authorise; and
  • The licence contains or has attached thereto the photograph and signature of the holder thereof. The legislation does not prescribe who should attach a photograph and signature to a driving licence, how it should be attached or when it should have been attached. The rule of thumb here should be that if a licence does not have the holder’s photograph or signature contained on it, some other formal document like a passport that contain the person’s photograph or signature should accompany the licence; and
  • The licence is valid in the country or territory of issue.

Conversion to South African Licence

The holder of a valid foreign driving licence or international driving permit as described above may at any time, during the one year of validity thereof after the person obtained permanent residence, apply for a RSA driving licence in substitution of his/her foreign driving licence or international driving permit. Therefore, once permanent residency has been obtained, holders of a foreign licence (or IDP) have one year in which to convert their foreign driving licence to a RSA licence after which failure to convert will render the licence invalid to convert or to drive with. A person in possession of a foreign licence may convert their foreign driving licence at the appropriate Driving Licence Testing Centre where residency was obtained, in the RSA.

For further information please refer to the quicklinks on the right.