Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has gazetted a new driver’s licence renewal deadline extension, giving motorists a further two-week grace period.
Thursday, 31 March 2022 was the previous deadline for motorists to renew their licences following a COVID-19-linked grace period that has been in place since March 2020.
Deadline extension for driver’s licence renewal
“All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving licence permits that expire during the period that commenced from 26 March 2020 up to and including 31 March 2022 are deemed to be valid and their validity periods are extended for a further grace period ending on 15 April 2022,” Mbalula said in a gazette notice published on Thursday.
UPDATE: On Friday, 1 April Mbalula withdrew this notice and gazetted a new one with a major change – the expiry period covered by the grace period is now from 26 March 2020 until 31 August 2021, not 31 March 2022.
According to a Twitter post by the Department of Transport, Mbalula is set to provide an update on driver’s licence renewals on Friday, 1 April at 09h00. A media briefing had earlier been scheduled for Thursday, but it did not take place.
On Wednesday, the Automobile Association of South Africa warned of a “looming crisis” as the earlier deadline loomed. It appealed to the Minister to extend the deadline, citing a backlog of 2.1 million licences that had not been renewed as of February.
“Given the recent problems with the production of driving licence cards, and issues around Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) and online booking systems, we believe it’s unrealistic to expect that this enormous backlog will be cleared by tomorrow; this leaves hundreds of thousands of drivers without the necessary documents to be on the road legally,” the Association said in a statement.
“Unless traffic law enforcement understands these issues – and finds a suitable way of addressing them – we may find a massive spike in the number of traffic fines issued to motorists in the next couple of weeks and months.”
Backlog ‘to be cleared by September’
Last week, the Department of Transport said it is “on track” to clear the renewal backlog by September 2022. It also pledged to clear the “bottleneck” experienced between November 2021 and January 2022 by April 2022.
The Department added that motorists who apply to renew their driving licence cards before 31 March 2022 will have the cards valid for a further three months provided they are in possession of their old cards. They must also have a receipt to prove that they have paid for the renewal application.
“The regulation is also applicable to those who have applied to renew their driving licence cards since 25 February 2022 and before the end of the grace period of 31 March 2022. Their driving licence cards will also be valid for a further period of three months,” the Department explained.
“If you apply after the expiry date, please note that you will be required to apply for a temporary driving licence.”
It is likely that these provisions will roll over into the new deadline. However, Mbalula is expected to provide further clarity in his briefing on Friday.