• Seemann's Finest Quality Meat
  • Jaegermeister bottle breaking through ice
  • Air France


Johannesburg has no reliable and safe transport system so it is best to use a car to get around. South Africa imports a large variety of cars; certain models of BMW, Ford, Mazda, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen are even produced in the country. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that cars are cheaper; in fact, they are more expensive than in Europe. In addition, although the range of cars available is certainly ample, there isn't the same choice available as in Germany.

There is a large market for both new and second hand cars and plenty of dealers servicing both.


It would be very impractical to bring a car from mainland Europe because traffic in South Africa drives on the right hand side of the road and South African law forbids the driving of left hand drive vehicles on the country's roads.

If you would like to bring a right-hand drive car or a motorbike into South Africa, you would need to arrange and pay for transport and customs clearance.


Johannebsurg has no safe or reliable public transport system so you need to have your own transport for work, school and liesure. Most households have two cars. Having said that, with the recent introduction of Uber, some households are using this service in place of private cars.
To buy a vehicle in South Africa as a foreign citizen, you must have the following:
which car to buy
Once you have these, you can start looking for a car. Here are a couple of things to consider:
finding your car
Now you need to know:
  • Where to find your car
  • What to check for when you buy a car
insurance and other costs
Apart from the actual cost of the car, you need to consider:
Paying for your car
  • Paying for the car in cash.
  • Arranging finance for the car

Getting a Traffic Register Number.

Traffic Register Number
If you don't have a South African Identity Document, and you want to buy a vehicle, you must apply for a Traffic Register Number. To get this number you need the following:

˟ check these details with the registering authority as the requirements differ from place to place.

Once you have these documents, you can take them to a registering authority. Follow this link for a list of registering authorities.

NOTE: Officially, a Traffic Register Number should take six weeks to issue but it can take longer

New or used?

Cars in South Africa, new or used, are relatively expensive.

The incentives for buying a new car are that you would know the history, you can order exactly what you want in terms of colour and specifications, and you will have the full warranty and maintenance plan that comes with the car.

On the other hand, you will pay a premium for the vehicle and you will carry all the loss of value when you sell the car.

Buying a used car, or a nearly new car can be the better option. If you can take some time, you can generally find a good deal. You will get an idea of car prices when you look on the internet or in dealerships. If you buy a newish car, you might still get part of the warranty and maintenance plan without incurring the initial loss of value which occurs as soon as a car leaves the dealership floor.

Of course, buying a used car carries certain risks; you have no guarantee of the car's history and the car might have damage or defects which you don't know about.

In addition, if you buy from a private seller, you need to be very sure that the transaction is legitimate. Avoid meeting the seller in a secluded place and do not carry large quantities of cash around. Check out the link on buying a car safely on Autotrader's website.

However, if you buy from a reputable dealership, you can generally assume that it is an honest deal. Plus some dealerships will also offer a guarantee or an oppurtunity to extend the warranty or maintenance plan so you have some peace of mind.

Which type and make of car would you like?

This will depend on your personal preference but we would like to mention a couple of things:

Firstly, the main use of the car; driving off-road or on bad roads will require a higher or possibly a 4 wheel drive car. For driving in the city or on maintained dirt roads, a standard front or rear wheel drive vehicle should be fine. You might consider and automatic transmission if you're going to do a lot of driving; distances in South Africa are much larger than those in Europe.

A second consideration is the availability of spare parts for the particular brand and model; if these are hard to come by, you may be faced with high repair costs and lengthly repair times. Car types may have different names in South Africa. Click the link to see names and desciptions: SA car names and descriptions.

How reliable should the car be?

The ADAC has an excellent database with current and historical data on car reliability:
ADAC Pannenstatistik 2016 (German only)

Resources providing reliability information in English are the Reliability Index and JD Power:
Reliability Index
JD Power

What safety rating must the car have?

The European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP) provides safety data on new and older cars. The data indicates the safety of an adult occupants, child occupants and pedestrians in the event of a car accident:

Which cars are the most hijacked?

Some cars are stolen and hijacked more often than others. Finding out which cars these are is not that easy but CarInfo (August 2015) lists the most stolen cars as the following:

Toyota Hiace
Nissan 1400
Toyota Hilux
Toyota Venture
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Fortuner

However, these are certainly not the only cars heavily targeted, According to CarInfo the types of car stolen are:
  • models which are a little older; from 21 to 7 years old
  • micro busses and sedan cars
  • cars which are either entry level or luxury models; middle of the rage models seem to be less stolen

The best thing to do is ask your insurance company about any car you are interested in; they should be able to give you an information on a specific make and model.

Finding your car

There are some great online resources for finding a car:
Autotrader and

Or you can walk into any dealership and speak to a salesman about the car you are interested in. You can also test drive the car - no special permission or license is needed. The salesman or owner will probably come with you.

What to check for?

More neccesary when you are buying a used car from a private seller, it's still a good idea to be informed when buying any used car.

Make sure the deal is genuine; you can find information on avoiding scams and fraudsters here: Safety and security when buying a car

Make sure the car isn't a dud or "lemon" - ask about the cars history and why the owner is selling. Make sure the car has a roadworthy certificate, a full service history, a valid license. Check that there are no oustanding licence fees or fines. Also view these tips from the AA: Don't buy a lemon.

Research the car; you can get reports on the car which can tell you:
  • A fair market price for the car
  • If any money is owed on the car
  • If the car has any outstanding traffic fines
  • Whether the car is stolen or sought by the police
  • If the vehicle specifications match the manufacture's specifications
  • any recorded odometre readings
  • any recorded insurance claims for damage

You can get reports at these websites:
Transunion and Car Value When you see the car, inspect it throroughly.

NOTE: when a car changes ownership in South Africa, it must obtain a new Road Worthy Certificate (unless the existing certificate is less than 60 days old). Either you or the seller can get the Road Worthy Certificate but it is more convenient for you if the seller gets it.

What will the insurance cost?

Vehicles don't have to be insured in South Africa but it is recommended. As in Germany, there are various types of insurance available from basic to comprehensive. You can get insurance quotes at these websites:
Dial Direct
First for Women (specialist insurance solutions for women)
King Price

Do I need to install any security systems?

Your insurance company may require that you install a security systems before they will insure the car. Normally you will need a tracking device (this is used to find a stolen car) and Microdot (for more information visit this site: What is microdotting?).

If you do need to install a tracking device, consider the one from BeamMe - their tracker is acceptable to most insurance companies (check first) and their prices are very competitive.

What will it cost to maintain and run the car?

Various online resources exits to help you calculate running costs of a specific car:
The AA South Africa provides a tool to calculate running costs for a specific vehicle: AA Vehicle Rates Calculator
The Kinsey Report provides prices for spare parts in South Africa: The Kinsey Report
The ADAC has superb tools for finding and comparing costs: ADAC Autokosten (German only)

What will it cost to service the car?

This will depend on several things:
  • if the car has a maintenance or service plan (if not, this may be worth looking at)
  • the cost of spare parts - locally available parts are generally cheaper than imported ones
  • how often the car must be serviced
  • the quality and reliability of the car

The section "What will it cost to maintain and run the car?" includes various tools for comparing spare part prices.

Paying for the car in cash

If you are paying cash, you must be 100% sure the deal is legitimate. Read the section What to check for? and check for other tips on staying safe on the internet. Do not put yourself into a vulnerable position:

  • Do not carry cash with you
  • Do not meet at a secluded location or private home
  • Meet in a public place like a police station
  • Do not leave your car keys or personal belongings with the seller
  • If anything feels strange to you, leave immediately

Financing the car payment

If you want to finance your car, you have several options. If you buy a new car the dealership can arrange finance but you can also arrange your own. Some of the bigger vehicle financing companies are:

Bidvest Bank
First National Bank
Standard Bank
WesBank Before you sign any vehicle finance agreement, check if the agreement includes a Residual Payment also known as a "Balloon Payment". These payments may reduce monthly repayment amounts but they leave you with a large amount owing at the end of the finance period and are best avoided if possible. If you don't want a Residual Payment, ask the financer for written confirmation that none is included in the finance agreement.
transferring ownership

What happens after the car is sold?

Basically, the car must be licensed and registered in the new owner's name within 21 days of change of ownership. Any car which is sold in South Africa must also get a new Road Worthy Certificate. Licencing a vehicle
When you buy a car, it should have a valid license and, if you buy the car from a dealer, he will do all the licencing for you. However, if you do need to license a car yourself, you can do so at a participating post office or on the payCity website:

The South African Post Office telephone: 0860 111 502
email: customer.services@postoffice.co.za
website: South African Post Office
Click here for a list of post offices offering the vehicle license renewal service.

You should take the following with you when you go to a post office to renew your license
  • your passport WITH a valid Work Permit or Permanent Residence Permit
  • your Traffic Register Number
  • your proof of residence
  • a completed notification of change of address or particulars of person or organisation (NCP) form
  • a completed motor vehicle license renewal notice (MVL2)
  • If you do not a license renewal notice, a completed form ALV (Application for Licensing of Motor Vehicle)

Click this link to open payCity's website

You have 21 day's grace when renewing a motor vehicle license, after which you will be charged a penalty
Registering a vehicle
Vehicle registration is the process by which the vehicle is transferred into your name. Registration is completed within one day.

If you buy a car from a dealer, he will do the registration for you but should you need to register the car yourself, you can follow these steps:

Registering a new car
Phone the relevant registering authority and ask them what to submit and how to pay. You should need the following, but the requirements are not consistent so it is best to check:
  • your passport WITH a valid Work Permit or Permanent Residence Permit
  • your Traffic Register Number
  • a completed Application for Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicle (RLV) form
  • your driver's license
  • your proof of residence
  • proof of payment of the vehicle
  • A certificate issued by the manufacturer or importer of the motor vehicle on the official stationery of the manufacturer or importer OR the registration certificate (form RC1) issued to the manufacturer, builder or importer when they registered the vehicle as stock for the first time
  • Payment for the registration

You can download the list of registering authorities and the relevant forms below:
List of registering authorities
Application for Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicle (Form RLV)

Registering a used car
Phone the relevant registering authority and ask them what to submit and how to pay. It should be the following, but the requirements are not consistent so it is best to check:
  • the seller must complete a Notification of Change of Ownership form (NCO) and submit it to their registering auhtority
  • you must complete an Application for Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicle (RLV) form
  • you must complete a Notice of change of particulars (NCP) form
  • your passport WITH a valid Work Permit or Permanent Residence Permit
  • identification of the current owner of the vehicle (if the curent owner is not a South African ID holder then a certified copy of the owner's passport with Work Permit or Permanent Residence Permit)
  • your driver's license
  • your proof of residence
  • proof of payment of the vehicle
  • the current vehicle Registration Certificate (in the seller's name)
  • a valid motor vehicle license for the vehicle
  • a roadworthy certificate for the vehicle
  • The appropriate fee

You can download the list of registering authorities and the relevant forms below:
List of registering authorities
Notification of Change of Ownership (Form NCO)
Application for Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicle (Form RLV)
Notice of change of particulars (Form NCP)

  • Lufthansa South Africa
  • Chateau Gateaux logo
  • Deukom Television
  • Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft