Buying a car and vehicle registration in South Africa
Buying a car in South Africa
In general, cars are more expensive in South Africa than in Europe or the United States (US). However, many residents own a car as the country’s public transport infrastructure can be unreliable. In 2021, 464,112 new cars were sold in the country. This is much higher than Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), though lower than China and the US.
As in many countries, Japanese and South Korean car brands are popular in South Africa. German-made Volkswagens and French Renaults are also in demand.
As of June 2022, the top 10 best-selling cars in the country are:
- Suzuki Swift
- Toyota Urban Cruiser
- Volkswagen Polo Vivo
- Ford Ranger
- Toyota Starlet
- Volkswagen Polo
- Isuzu D-Max
- Nissan NP200
- Renault Kiger
- Volkswagen T-Cross
Buying a car in South Africa is similar to many countries globally. However, you need to be eligible, know where to look and have all the relevant documents at hand.
Who can buy a car?
South African residents can obtain a full driver’s license at the age of 18, meaning they cannot drive or own a Buying a car before then. Internationals will also need to show their residency visa stamp on their passport to register their vehicle.
Be aware that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) often has a backlog in visa processing. You can get this stamp only a few months after your arrival. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to set up a South African bank account to ease the financing of buying a car.
Buying a new car in South Africa
Although buying a car in South Africa is expensive, the sales contract usually includes a free maintenance or service plan for up to five years.
If you’re looking to buy a new car in South Africa, it’s a good idea to research the brands and models available locally and how you plan to use the vehicle. Once you’ve chosen, you can contact the dealership to arrange a test drive.
Once you Buying a car that you want to buy, there will be a fair amount of paperwork and financing involved. You must also provide the following documents:
- South African ID (Smart ID-Card) or International Passport
- Proof of address (eg, mortgage agreement, rental agreement, title deed, or utility bill)
- Residency Visa
Usually, when buying a new car, the dealer will help you sort out registration, insurance and financing. You can buy a car in South Africa by paying the total price in advance. However, most dealerships will offer a payment plan or financing deal. Hire-purchase financing is one of the country’s most popular ways to pay for a car. You can also get a leasing agreement, where you pay a monthly fee to use the car for a certain period of time.
Related: Getting a Best car insurance in Austria 2022
Where to buy a new car
If you want to buy a new car in South Africa, your best bet is to go to an authorized dealer. But, do some research beforehand to find reputable dealers.
Most South African consumers prefer to buy cars through reputable dealerships. There are many contracted retailers that deal in specific brands (eg, Toyota or Mercedes-Benz). Some third-party retailers work with different Buying a car companies. You will find car dealerships all over South Africa, especially in urban areas like Cape Town or Johannesburg. Your dealer will manage the process of buying a car in South Africa, from choosing a model, helping you with registration and advising on financing and insurance options.
Below are some of the famous car dealerships in the country:
- Action Ford
- Algoa Toyota Port Elizabeth
- BMW Kempton Park
- IC Auto Nissan
Car brokers are slightly different from dealers. They act as intermediaries, providing information and guidance on Buying a car models, financing and insurance options. Additionally, brokers often have access to a more extensive inventory of cars; They are not limited to one brand, as some dealers are.
If you prefer to work with a broker to buy a car in South Africa, here are some options:
- Inside the car guys
Buying a car online
Although many South Africans do research online to find a car, they often don’t buy it without a physical inspection and test drive. You can browse a selection of new autos online at websites such as:
- Vehicle dealer
- Car Finder
Electric cars and hybrids in South Africa
Despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) globally, the South African market for these green cars is still small. In 2020, there were only 6,367 electric cars in the country, including hybrids, accounting for less than 0.2% of new Buying a car sales. Part of the issue is that South Africa presents a unique set of challenges to the widespread use of EVs. In particular, their high prices, lack of government incentives and unreliable power grids.
However, a recent survey found that more than 70% of South Africans are willing to switch to an electric vehicle if it costs less than R500,000. In the first half of 2022, online searches for electric cars increased by 100% and hybrids by 129%.
German carmaker Audi unveiled six models of its electric e-tron range in Cape Town in February 2022. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volvo are all set to introduce EVs to the market throughout the year. This will provide a wider choice in the local EV market than the limited offerings from Jaguar, Mini Cooper, Porsche and BMW.
Buying a used car in South Africa
With such high prices, buying a secondhand car can be more attractive as you can find some decent options. Whether you go through a dealership or a private seller, you should get the Buying a car inspected by a reputable mechanic. Also be sure to run the chassis number through a local database to check the car’s accident history and ask to see a valid Roadworthy Certificate (RWC).
Generally, you can find used cars online. However, you need to meet the seller in person, do a test drive and schedule an independent inspection when you find something. It is also your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is legal and roadworthy. For this reason, most internationals prefer to buy a new car from a dealership rather than privately.
It is crucial that you look up the official RWC for any used car you wish to purchase. The certificate must not be older than 12 months (ie, must be renewed annually to obtain your vehicle license). The Buying a car must meet certain criteria, such as:
- Identification with a random VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
- No rust or damage
- All doors should be firmly attached and easy to open/close
- Speedometer and odometer should be working
- Seatbelts must be operational
- All lights and indicators should be working
- The windshield should be free of cracks or damage
Where to buy a used car
If you choose to buy a used car in South Africa you will have many options. Whether you go private or commercial, you can find options for used cars on websites such as:
Used car dealerships
Going through a reputable car dealership is probably the best way to buy a used car in South Africa, as the dealers inspect and certify the vehicles. Most authorized retailers for brands like Toyota, Ford and BMW will usually have some used cars on the floor as well.
Buying a car from a private owner in South Africa
Buying a used car from a private seller in South Africa can be difficult, as some cars may be stolen (with incorrect paperwork), while other sellers may omit an accident history. Therefore, you will need to do more legwork, such as additional background checks and inspections on the vehicle.
Buying a used car at auction
In South Africa, it is also possible to buy cars at auctions, where you can get great deals. However, your technical knowledge of vehicles must be sound, and you must have inspection reports and paperwork independently verified.
If you want to try an auction, some options include:
- Bidvest Burchmore’s
- Car auction
Car registration and other paperwork in South Africa
After buying a car in South Africa, you will have 21 days to register it at the local licensing office. You will need the following documents:
- Roadworthy Certificate (RWC)
- Current registration
- Proof of payment
- Passport with work permit or visa stamp
- Driver’s certificate
- Residence/Address Proof
- Two passport photographs
You will need to get the RWC and current registration from the car dealer or private seller when you transfer ownership of the car. Once you have all this, you need to fill out the Motor Vehicle (RLV) Registration and Licensing form and submit everything to the Licensing Office. Depending on the car model, you will also have to pay a registration fee of R500-1,000.
Once your registration is complete, you can pick up all new paperwork from the licensing office. This includes:
- Your copy of registration certificate
- A registration (i.e., license) disc to be displayed on your windshield
- Your traffic registration number
- Your vehicle license plates
Internationals without a South African ID also need a Traffic Register Number (TRN) to legally buy a car.
Your car registration remains valid unless:
- You sell the vehicle
- The car has been impounded for more than 31 days
- The vehicle has been in an accident and has been declared unfit to drive
- You may not renew the license disk for four years
- You get deregistration certificate
After your car is registered, find car insurance before you hit the road. This will protect you and your vehicle in case of accidents, thefts or break-ins, which are common in South Africa.
Importing cars in South Africa
If you don’t want to buy a car in South Africa, you can consider importing one. The government has strict guidelines for importing used vehicles into the country, and you will need to follow them closely. You should also be aware that the importation of used cars is generally restricted to South African citizens and permanent residents.
First, you will need to obtain two documents:
- Letter of Authority – National Regulator for Compulsory Specification (NRCS), R300–1,800 depending on car model
- Import Permit (IE462) – from the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) of South Africa
Along with this, you will need to submit the following documents:
- Your passport
- Permanent Residence Certificate/Visa
- Vehicle license
Additionally, you have to pay customs duty (ie 25% of the car’s value).
You must register your imported car in South Africa. Before you do this, you need to obtain two documents:
- South African Police Service (SAPS) Clearance Certificate (PCC)
- Evidence of customs compliance from the Customs and Excise Division (ie, South African Revenue Service, SARS).
Once you have all this, you can register your car in South Africa. Again, you will need to provide:
- An eNaTIS form (National Transport Information System)
- Your South African ID or foreign passport
- Foreign registration and licensing documents of the car
- Letter of authority to import the car
- address proof
- Passport photos
Because importing a car can be difficult, especially for internationals, you may be better off buying a car in South Africa.
Car sales in South Africa
If you plan to sell your car in South Africa, you will have several options. Some people prefer to advertise their vehicle online and sell it privately. Please note that you will be responsible for meeting potential drivers, allowing them to inspect and test drive the car and sorting out all the paperwork to transfer ownership.
Alternatively, you can sell your car through a dealership. Of course, they will charge a fee to handle the sale and may sell it at a lower price. However, they will handle all negotiations, inspections, paperwork and other admin.
Trade-in deals are also possible. You sell your car to the dealer at a certain price and offset against buying a new Buying a car. If you have good knowledge of autos, you can also sell your Buying a car at used car auctions. Just be aware, though, that the auction house will lower the sale price.
When selling your Buying a car, you must inform the Registration Officer by submitting a Notice of Change of Ownership/Sale of Motor Vehicle (NCO) form within 21 days of the sale. You also have to give the registration certificate to the buyer. After this, the new owner has to re-register the car in their name. If you have any outstanding loans at the time of selling the Buying a car, you will also need to request a settlement letter from your financial institution.
Remember, it is also your responsibility to provide the buyer with the following:
- Roadworthy Certificate (RWC) and
- Proof of ownership
- Agreement of Sale
- Receipt including sale price, date and Buying a car details