Driving with J9: Optometrist tests for driver's licence renewals - what you should know


• Permits no longer needed to drive anywhere.
• Optometrist reports are being declined at Western Cape drivers' licence testing centres.
• If you vehicle, learner or driver's licence expired after 1 June, you do not have 90 days grace to renew.

There's been a bit of a debate regarding eye tests at driver's licence testing centres and optometrist reports. If you live in Gauteng, you're allowed to submit an eye test report from an optometrist instead of doing the test at a licencing centre, and this has been granted for the past two years.

And at a time when we're all taking any necessary steps to avoid the spread of Covid-19, most people are more comfortable presenting an eye report from a qualified optician than having to use the same equipment at licencing centres. However, if you live in the Western Cape, you're obligated to do the eye test at the driving licence testing centres as optometrist reports or certificates are not allowed in the province's centres. Both the City of Cape Town's traffic services and the provincial government states these are not allowed despite the Road Traffic Management Corporation's Simon Zwane telling Cape Talk Radio's Pippa Hudson in an interview on Friday (26 June) that it should be allowed.

I've also had several readers write in to Wheels24 and share their experiences of renewing their licences during June, and their optometrist reports have been declined. However, another reader, Henry Pieters, has informed that his certificate was accepted in the OverStrand municipality so the above ruling may see to only apply to the City of Cape Town district.

According to Cape Talk Radio, Zwane says the RTMC supports the view that an optometrist report should be accepted at DLTCs, which he says is backed by legal opinion.

It's also important to note that while most testing centres have reopened across the country, various stations have had to close due to positive Covid-19 cases at these stations and for the purpose of decontamination. Naturally, this is a regular occurrence across the country too, and citizens are advised to follow their municipalities on social media platforms to stay informed as to when stations reopen.

While the Western Cape is the only province where you could not renew your vehicle licence at a South African Post Office, you are reminded that you could  renew your vehicle licence on the online portal hereif you fall under the City of Cape Town.

Appointments remain challenging to book on the online Natis system for Gauteng motorists wanting to renew drivers' licences; however, those who live in the Western Cape can walk into centres under strict protocols.

Third parties may renew vehicle licences on your behalf; both the driver and the third party identification documents are needed, proof of residence, and licence renewal papers. However, third parties may not apply for drivers' licences as this is done using biometrics. 

On Friday (26 June) tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced that government has decided not to relax travel rules in South Africa. This means no leisure travel will be allowed under "advanced" lockdown Level 3. According to Business Insider, only business travellers can stay over in hotels and guest houses.

Permits to drive anywhere are no longer needed, and there is no restriction on where you may drive as long as it stays within your province of residence. So "self-drive" day trips are allowed within your own region. Travel across provincial borders is only permitted under certain strict conditions, for example for work, medical procedures, funerals, or university.

Another reminder as queries are still coming in daily; if your vehicle or driving licence has expired after 1 June, the 90-day grace period does not apply. The three-month grace period is only applicable to those motorists whose licences have expired during the national lockdown (from 26 March to 31 May 2020).

If your licence expired any time in June, or in July, or sometime during 2019, the 90-day period is not valid, and you will need to renew your licence as soon as possible.

I would also strongly advise that if your driver's licence is expiring soon, rather renew at least four week before it does, government has always advised this. If you wait until your driver's licence expires, you will also have to fork out extra cash for a temporary licence.

janine van der post

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post is the first female editor at an online mainstream motoring publication. Email her here.

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