Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist


New printing machine from France? – Driving licence smart cards expected to be rolled out

A specific number of smart cards will be piloted in each province at the end of April.


Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says a new smart card driver’s licence is expected to be piloted in South Africa later this month after several delays.

New licence cards

Speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, Chikunga said the Department of Transport is close to finalising the procurement of a new printing machine for the licence cards.

“We are at the tail-end of the procurement process, because the team that is busy with that had to travel to France to see the machine for themselves.

“I wouldn’t want to go into details about that because I’m not supposed to be in the bidding process at all,” the minister said.

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She confirmed that the department plans to print the new licences soon, starting with a specific number of cards in each province as an initial launch.

“Before the end of this month, we will be printing new driving licences [cards] and will launch at least the first 100 per province, as we have said that. So we are actually moving in that regard.”

The new printer is expected to speed up turnaround times for licence cards in South Africa, enabling the production of a card within five working days.

There is only one driving licence card production machine currently in operation in the country, which has broken down several times due to technical failures in recent years.

This has led to a backlog in the production of the cards and motorists being forced to drive with expired driver’s licences produced by the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA).

The current machine produces about 300 000 cards per month.

Smart card features

Cabinet approved the new driver’s licence card in August 2022.

Former Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula previously claimed that the current card failed to meet international standards in relation to the technology it employs, with the old infrastructure also becoming costly to maintain.

The new driving licence card will feature enhanced security measures, such as biometric data, holograms, and watermarks in line with the International Information Technology Personal Identification Compliant Driving Licence (ISO18013).

These upgrades are designed to combat fraudulent licences, enhance overall road safety and will set the stage for the rollout of digital driver’s licences, allowing citizens to access their licences directly from their smartphones.

The current card, which has been in operation since 1998, will be phased out over a five-year period.

The government was also looking at extending the renewal period of the card from five to 10 years.

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