How to License A Secondhand Car

One of our readers recently commented on how they were unable to register their car due to the previous owner’s negligence (unpaid fines, change of location, etc.).

The seller had additionally given the buyer an incorrect contact number so the problem was well and truly on him. We decided to contact Howard Dembovsky of the Justice Project South Africa to comment on what can be done in this sort of situation.

What Should You Do When Buying a Car Privately?


When buying a car privately, it is vital to inquire if the car has been deregistered. Unfortunately, when buying privately, car sellers are not held to the same standard as car dealers who have to abide by The Consumer Act. So it will be up to you to make sure everything is as it should be.

If you are planning on buying the car, both parties will need to visit the Licencing Department to fill out forms to both deregister (from current owner) and register the car (in new owner’s name).

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What Forms Do You Need?

To deregister your car, you will need a NCO form or a Notification of Change of Ownership/Sale of Motor Vehicle form. The buyer and seller will need to fill this in.

To register your new car, you will need a RLV form or Application for Registration and Licencing of Motor Vehicle. Only the new owner will need to fill this in.

Dembovsky finds this process problematic and adds that licensing authorities seem to use the samebuyer beware” principle to all who wish to both take lawful ownership of a vehicle.

The NCO Form Looks Like This:



The RLV Form Looks Like This:



What Other Documents Do You Need?

The following is a list of acceptable Iientification when renewing, registering and deregistering a vehicle

  1. RSA Identity document (Identification Act 68 of 1997)
  2. Temporary Identity document (only if valid)
  3. Traffic Register Number certificate
  4. RSA driving licence card (only if valid)
  5. RSA passport (only if valid)

In the case of the secondhand car buyer who was unable to track down the previous owner’s details, checking the vin and chassis number on your vehicle may help bring to light the identity of the previous car owner.

What Can Affect the Transfer of Ownership?

Contrary to popular belief, Dembovsky says, legally, you can’t be refused a car licence transaction on the basis of outstanding fines.

He advises the following two factors as possibly having an affect on the transfer of ownership:

  1. If there are outstanding licensing fees and/or penalties thereon, a licence disc and in fact, any eNaTIS transaction may be refused; and/or
  2. If a warrant of arrest has been issued against the current owner, a licence disc and in fact, any eNaTIS transaction may be refused.

This is in terms of Regulation 59(2) and (3) of the National Road Traffic Regulations and in both cases, “the block is on the actual person who owns the vehicle and not on the vehicle itself”.

The existence of an enforcement order under the AARTO Act cannot affect the registration of the vehicle and should not affect the licence disc for a vehicle another person has purchased. Enforcement orders are only authorised against natural and juristic persons, not vehicles.

TIP: If possible, ask the seller to show evidence that there are no outstanding fines or warrants in order to safely register the car in your name.

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How Do I Know If My Vehicle Licence Is Due For Renewal?

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) posts renewal notices approximately six weeks before your vehicle licence is due for renewal.

The responsibility, however, remains with you.

Failure to renew a vehicle licence results in serious penalties. By law, unlicensed vehicles may not be used on public roads.

CLICK BELOW to find out the Top 5 Asked Questions About The New Car Licence Renewal Laws.






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