A driver’s licence confirmation letter, also known as a driver’s licence certificate, serves as proof of a valid driver’s licence in South Africa. This confirmation is essential for individuals planning to drive in another country as it allows them to convert their South African driver’s licence into the corresponding licence of the destination country. However, it’s important to note that not all countries accept South African driver’s licences or the confirmation letter of our local licenses. In such cases, even if you provide your driver’s licence confirmation from South Africa, you will have to apply for the specific driver’s licence of the destination country or obtain an International Driver’s Licence.
The validity of a South African Driver’s Licence
The South African driving license holds recognition in numerous countries worldwide; however, the specific rules and regulations governing its validity vary depending on the destination. Here are some general guidelines concerning the acceptance of South African driving licenses in various regions:
Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries
South African driving licenses are universally recognized in all SADC countries, which encompass Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
European Union (EU) countries
Generally, South African driving licenses are acknowledged in EU countries for a period of up to 12 months. However, it is essential to verify each country’s specific regulations to ensure compliance with their policies.
South African driving licenses are accepted in various other countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Nevertheless, it is crucial to be aware that rules and regulations might differ, necessitating confirmation with the respective authorities of each country.
In certain countries, travellers may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in conjunction with their South African driving license. The IDP serves as a translated document that facilitates understanding by foreign authorities. For those intending to drive abroad, it is prudent to ascertain whether an IDP is mandatory and the necessary steps to acquire one.
It is imperative to remain updated with the latest regulations and requirements for driving in foreign countries to ensure a smooth and compliant driving experience. By adhering to these guidelines and obtaining any necessary permits, travelers can confidently navigate international roads while adhering to local laws and regulations.
Converting SA Driver's Licence Abroad
|Country Name||Agreement for Long-Term South African Visitors or Immigrants|
|Russia||Use SA driver's licence for up to 6 months accompanied by International Driver's Permit Translation. After 6 months, convert you SA driver's licence to a Russian licence by taking the theory test (only offered in Russian).|
|Germany||Use SA driver's licence for 6 months in Germany before converting it to a German driver's licence using a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter from South Africa.|
|U.K||Use your SA licence for up to 12 months in the United Kingdom before converting it by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter and completing the D1 application form.|
|France||Use your SA licence for up to 12 months in France before converting it. Submit the Driver's licence Confirmation Letter to apply for the conversion.|
|Poland||Use your SA driver's licence for up to 6 months before exchanging it for a Polish driver's licence by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter from South Africa.|
|Hungary||South Africa and Hungary are both parties to the 1967 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, so all that is required to legally use your SA licence here is a notarised copy of your licence.|
|Greece||Use your SA licence for up to 6 months in Greece before converting it to a Greek licence by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter.|
|Sweden||You can legally use your SA driver's licence in Sweden but it must be renewed before it expires. If it is only renewed after the card expires, it will automatically be replaced by a Swedish driver's licence.|
|Portugal||Use your SA driver's licence for up to 6 months in Portugal before converting it to a Portuguese licence by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter.|
|Bulgaria||Your SA driver's licence is valid for 6 months in Bulgaria before it must be exchanged for a local driver's licence. This is done by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter and once the exchange is completed, your SA driver's licence is sent back to South Africa.|
|Finland||As both parties for part of the Vienna Road Traffic Convention, you may use your SA driver's licence here for two years. After the two-year period, you must convert your licence to an A1, A2, or B-class driving licence without the need for re-testing.|
|Slovakia||You cannot use your SA driver's licence in Slovakia and must exchange it for a local licence as soon as you arrive by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter from South Africa.|
|Croatia||Use your SA driver's licence for up to 12 months in Croatia before exchanging it for a local one. To apply for an exchange, you must submit the Driver's licence Confirmation Letter, proof of identity, proof of residence in Croatia, a certified translation of your confirmation letter, and a medical certificate (not older than 6 months) proving that you are fit to drive, ID photos, and proof of payment.|
|Estonia||Use your SA driver's licence in Estonia for 185 days before exchanging it for an Estonian licence. If your driver's licence card expired before you gained permanent residency in Estonia, you will need to write a theory test and complete a practical driver's licence test before being issued with a new driver's licence card.|
|Montenegro||Use your SA licence for up to 6 months before converting it to a Montenegran licence. Along with a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter, you must also submit a medical certificate proving that you are fit to drive.|
|Luxembourg||Use your SA licence for up to 3 months here before exchanging it for a Luxembourgish licence. To apply for the exchange, you need to submit a medical certificate (no older than three months), a police clearance certificate, a certified copy of your SA driver's licence, proof of residency, a passport picture, a completed driver's licence application form, a tax stamp from the licence office, and your South African Driver's licence Confirmation Letter.|
|Andorra||Use your South African licence in Andorra for up to six months before converting it to an Andorrian licence. For the conversion, you must submit a letter from South African authorities detailing the types of vehicles that your licence permits you to drive along with your Driver's licence Confirmation Letter.|
|Monaco||As Monaco forms part of the Vienna Road Traffic convention, you can use your SA licence here for up to a year. After 12 months you must exchange your licence to a local one by submitting a Driver's licence Confirmation Letter along with the application form.|
|San Marino||You can use your SA licence in San Marino along with an International Driver's licence for up to three months. After 3 months, you must exchange your licence for a local one using your driver's licence confirmation letter.|
|United States||New York honors valid foreign driver's licences for residents of other nations, and there is no need for non-US residents to apply for a New York State licence. Non-US residents with licences from nations other than Canada must pass a written test, a five-hour pre-licensing course, and a road test to qualify for a New York licence. Their foreign licence is valid for driving but not for waiving tests and courses for new drivers. Upon receiving a New York licence, non-US residents must surrender their foreign licence, which will be stored at the local DMV office and destroyed after 60 days. If needed to return to their home country, they can request the return of their foreign licence. An International Driving Permit is not valid for driving in New York State. It only confirms the validity of the underlying foreign driver's licence in South Africa. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation does not issue "Letters of Entitlement" to exchange South African driver's licences for licences in the country of residence. The Department of Transportation's Road Traffic Management Corporation can only obtain such letters.|
|Canada||A South African driver’s licence is valid in Canada for up to six months. After six months, you will need to obtain a Canadian driver‘s licence. You may be able to do this by exchanging your South African licence for a Canadian one, provided you meet the requirements. Driving licences are exchanged at a driver licencing office. People with a valid driving licence from South Africa have to take a driving knowledge test and an eye test. Once they have successfully passed both these tests they can then take the road test. Please note that these requirements do vary by territory in Canada so it is essential to enquire with the Driver Licencing Offices in the territory you intend to stay in for the latest guidelines.|
|Australia||If you have an overseas driver's licence or permit, you must get a South Australian driver's licence or permit within 3 months of becoming a permanent resident of South Australia. The process for converting a South African driver's licence into an Australian driver's licence depends on the state or territory in Australia where you intend to reside. Each state and territory has its own licensing authority and requirements for foreign licence conversions. Depending on the state or territory, you may be required to take a written knowledge test and/or a practical driving test to demonstrate your driving skills. In some cases, you might need to undergo a medical examination along with submitting a Driver’s licence Confirmation Letter from South Africa to complete the conversion.|
|New Zealand||Use your SA licence for up to 12 months in New Zealand before exchanging it for a local licence. To apply for the conversion, you must submit a certified copy of your ID, a completed eye test form, and a medical certificate proving that you are fit to drive.|
|China||Driving with a foreign driving licence or an international driving permit is not allowed in mainland China. A Chinese driving licence is required. A foreign licence can be exchanged for a local licence after passing a theoretical exam. The first step to applying for a Chinese licence, you must first have your passport, residence visa (or permit) and SA driver’s licence confirmation letter translated by a verified translator approved by the Public Security Bureau (PSB). Furthermore, you must take a medical test and collect a pass certificate before taking the documents to the traffic management office and applying for a licence. You must also provide a Chinese name for your new licence. This is a common requirement for various bureaucratic processes. If the application is approved, you must make an appointment to take the theoretical exam. If you pass the test, the licence is issued within two weeks and is valid for 6 years. Once issued with a Chinese licence, non-Chinese nationals must always carry their Chinese and foreign licence when driving.|
|Spain||Only citizens that have driver’s licences and are originally from European Union or European Economic Area countries have licences that are deemed valid in Spain. This means that you cannot use your SA driver’s licence in Spain and there is no agreement to simply convert your licence here. To apply for a Spanish licence, you must supply authorities with your NIE (residence card), copies of your passport, copies of your original SA driver’s licence, a psychophysical aptitude report obtained at an authorized medical center after an examination or tests, and a driver’s licence confirmation letter indicating how long you have been in possession of a South African driver’s licence. Obtaining a Spanish licence will require you to pass a theoretical and practical test.|
|Mauritius||Use your SA driver’s licence in Mauritius for up to a month before converting or exchanging it for a local one. To apply for the exchange, you must supply officials with a Letter of Request for a driver’s licence exchange, a Driver’s licence Confirmation Letter from south Africa, certified copies of your passport with entry details, certified copies of your current driver’s licence card, and proof of residency.|
|Singapore||Use your SA driver’s licence in Singapore for up to 12 months before converting it to a local licence. You must, however, convert your existing licence to a Singapore licence within three months of receiving permanent resident status. To start the process, you must pass the Singapore Basic Theory Test (BTT), for which you must create an account with one of the three driving centres in Singapore. Next, apply for the conversion at the Traffic Police Test Centre and submit copies of your passport and visa, original driver’s licence, and Driver’s licence Confirmation Letter.|
|Panama||Use your SA driver’s licence in Panama for up to 90 days before converting it for a Panamanian licence. To apply for the conversion, you must hold a Driver’s licence Confirmation Letter from South Africa along with valid copies of your passport and current driving licence. After this, your blood type must be documented through a SERTRACEN-approved lab. All of these documents must be submitted to a SERTRACEN service centre where you will also be subject to a vision and hearing test as part of the conversion process.|
Obtaining a Driver’s Licence Confirmation Letter
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), a corporation of the Department of Transport, is in a position to issue a confirmation letter should such an applicant have a valid licence. This is established by verifying the applicant’s South African identification number on the National Traffic Information System. The letter will serve as proof that the applicant has a valid licence and this will enable them to convert to a foreign driving licence in the country of current residence.
The process of applying for and obtaining your confirmation letter is relatively straightforward. Still, since the RTMC often makes mistakes on the letters, you’d need to reapply in the event that there is an error on your certificate. This can lead to costly delays in your timeline. However, when you work with a professional document assistance service like Apostil.co.za, there will be no significant delays in the process since reprints can quickly and easily be issued.
Once issued, your driver’s licence confirmation letter will contain your full name, identity number, and type of licence you hold. It also includes information on when your licence was first issued and where it was earned.
One important step that has been introduced during 2022 is the completion of a form: Driver’s Licence Confirmation Letter Application Form (CTC RMTC – DL FORM).
Importance of a Driver’s Licence Confirmation Letter
A driver’s licence confirmation letter is crucial for individuals planning to move to another country and intending to drive there. It serves as proof of possessing a valid driver’s licence and verifies the date of obtaining the licence, reflecting the individual’s road experience. However, it’s important to remember that not all countries recognize South African driver’s licences. Even with a driver’s licence confirmation letter, you might need to apply for a new driver’s licence in the destination country or obtain an International Driver’s Licence from the Automobile Association in South Africa before departure.
Additionally, a driver’s licence confirmation letter can be useful when renting a car in another country, as it helps verify your driving credentials. However, it should not be mistaken for an actual driver’s licence when presenting it to law enforcement officers.
- South African driver’s licences do not expire, but the card must be renewed every five years. This process involves taking new fingerprints and undergoing an eye test.
- You cannot convert your South African driver’s licence in another country if it has already expired, even if you possess a driver’s licence confirmation letter. Conversion is only possible before the licence expires.
- It’s essential to research whether the destination country recognizes South African driver’s licences. If you still need to, you have the option to apply for the country’s specific driver’s licence or obtain an International Driver’s Licence from the Automobile Association in South Africa before your departure.
Need assistance with your Driver’s Licence Confirmation Letter?
Apostil.co.za can assist you with obtaining your driver’s licence confirmation letter in between 4 and 15 working days. In order for us to assist you, we will need copies of the back and front of your South African driver’s licence and a clear copy of your South African ID.
For assistance with apostilling your driver’s licence confirmation letter for legal use overseas, you can rely on Apostil.co.za. We collaborate with the South African High Court and DIRCO to legalize your documents efficiently, allowing you to focus on your journey while they handle the paperwork. We also provide apostille services for other public documents required for international travels, ensuring a smooth and timely process.