Got your stolen car back? Here’s how to get police clearance to licence it in SA

<I>Image: iStock</I>
<I>Image: iStock</I>

“I was hijacked a few months ago and thankfully SAPS were able to recover my vehicle before it went to a chop-shop. I'm having problems renewing my recovered car’s licence, what should I do?” - reader
 
Cape Town - Car registration, licence renewals, increasing petrol prices... owning a vehicle can be stressful. One of the biggest causes of stress in SA is the threat of motor vehicle theft and hijackings. According to the latest crime statistics by the South African Police Services (SAPS), more than 1400 vehicles are hijacked each month in South Africa. 
 
The police recovered my stolen car, how do I get it back?

In the unfortunate event that you fall victim to vehicle theft, it's important to know that even if the police recover your car, it won't simply be returned to you. According to Law For All, the vehicle must first be presented to the SAPS to be cleared at the regional office where your car was originally registered.

Adv Jackie Nagtegaal of Law For All said: "If you don’t acquire Police Clearance, and many might not know this, you could face some serious issues. You won't be able to renew your vehicle’s licence, you won’t be able to transfer ownership of your vehicle and, most importantly, could be arrested because, in the eyes of the law, you are driving a stolen vehicle." 
 
What’s more, the investigating officer must remove the 'S stamp'; needless to say, this is incredibly important as you won’t be able to apply for police clearance if you skip this step. 

To avoid unnecessary trouble, you should also get a Police Clearance Certificate in the following situations:

  • Restoring or building up a vehicle - make sure none of the parts are stolen.
  • Changing the engine of your car - the engine number needs to be updated on the electronic national administration traffic information system (eNaTIS)
  • Crossing borders - it’s best to have your certificate to prove that the vehicle isn’t stolen and so that you don’t run into problems at roadblocks.

Police-clearance certificate: Legal advice provided by Law For All 

Once you have obtained the clearance certificate, go to the local licencing department so that they can note it on the system.

Keep in mind that if your car hasn’t been micro-dotted (A form of identification that is unique to South Africa for any vehicle bought on or after 1 September 2012), you will have to get this done at the clearance department as well. 
 
So remember to get all your proverbial ducks in a row when it comes to obtaining a Police Clearance Certificate so that you can go about your day sans additional stress. 

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