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Types of drivers licences South Africa

by Staff Reporter

Types of drivers licences South Africa.


Do you enjoy driving? Driving can be an opportunity to enter the job market. Drivers in South Africa are high in demand!  But, what are the different types of drivers licences in South Africa?

To become a driver, you need to have all the driver’s licence codes explained. Once you know what they mean, you can choose the right path that suits you. 

In South Africa, different driving licences are issued with various codes that indicate the types of vehicles that may be driven with that specific licence.

All South African driving licence codes are grouped into 4 major categories:

  1. Code A driver’s licence – for motorcycles
  2. Code B driver’s licence – light motor vehicles
  3. Code C driver’s licence – heavy motor vehicles
  4. Code D driver’s licence – combination and articulated vehicles.

For example, if you want to drive a motorcycle, you need a Code A driver’s licence; a standard light motor vehicle requires you to have a Code B driver’s licence and to operate heavy vehicles, you will need a Code C driver’s licence. 

There are other special driver’s licences for transporting goods and passengers that fall under the category Code D.

To transport fare-paying passengers or tourists for a fee, you must have a professional driving permit (PrDP).

This ultimate guide unpacks the different types of drivers licences available in South Africa and which vehicles these different driving licences allow you to drive or operate

What are the different types of driver's licence codes in South Africa?

Since 1998 the official South African licence system has used letters to differentiate between different types of drivers licence codes. 

We’ve pulled all the data from the Road Traffic Act and put it together to make things easier for anyone who may be getting confused.

What are the different types of motorcycle licences (Code A)?

Depending on the engine capacity of the motorcycle, in South Africa, there are 2 types of motorcycle driver’s licences: Code A1 and Code A.

 Legally, in South Africa, you can start riding a motorcycle on a public road at the age of 16. You will need at least a learner’s licence, and at the age of 16, you can get a learner’s licence for a motorcycle with an engine capacity up to 125 cubic metres (cc). 

A learner’s licence is valid for 2 years, and you’re allowed to continue riding your motorcycle with your learner’s licence alone –  that is, you’re not allowed to carry a passenger with just a learner’s licence.

Let’s look at the differences between the Code A1 and Code A motorcycle driver’s licences in South Africa.

Code A1 - small motorcycle licence

The code A1 motorcycle licence is for a motorcycle with or without a sidecar that has an engine capacity of 125cc or less. Examples of these small motorcycles include scooters and mopeds.

Code A - motorcycle licence

The code A motorcycle licence is for a motorcycle with or without a sidecar that has an engine that exceeds 125cc.

To get a learner’s licence for a motorcycle over 125cc, you must be 18 years or older.

Note: A motorcycle learner’s licence does not permit you to carry a passenger, not even an instructor.

motorcycle licence learning

What are the different types of light motor vehicle licences (Code B)?

Code B (formally known as Code 8) is the most common driver’s licence, allowing you to drive any vehicle (except motorcycles and agricultural vehicles) lighter than 3 500 Kg. You must be 18 years or older and a learner’s licence is required to take the code B driver’s licence test. 

The code B driving licence in South Africa also authorises you to operate tractor and mobile machinery vehicles.

There are 4 types of light motor vehicle driver’s licences: 

  1. Code B(a) 
  2. Code B(b)
  3. Code B(5) 
  4. Code B(7)

Let’s have a look at the different Code B driver’s licences in South Africa.

Code B(a) - light motor vehicles (with a small trailer)

A Code B(a) driver’s licence allows you to drive vehicles with a tare weight of 3500 kilograms (kg) or less including minibuses, buses and goods vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3500kg. 

A trailer with GVM of 750 kg or less may be attached to these vehicles.

Code B(b) - special vehicles like ambulances and garbage trucks

A Code B(b) driver’s licence allows you to drive special service vehicles such as ambulances and garbage trucks with a tare weight of 3500 kg or less.

A trailer with GVM of 750 kg or less may be attached to these vehicles.

Code B(5) - tractors

A Code B(5) driver’s licence only authorises the operation of tractors. There is no mass limit applied when operating a tractor with or without a trailer.

Code B(7) - mobile machinery such as construction equipment and forklifts

A Code B(7) driver’s licence only authorises the operation of mobile machinery. There is no mass limit applied when operating mobile machinery such as construction equipment, forklifts and earth moving machines.

types-of-drivers-licences-in-south-africa

What are the different types of heavy motor vehicle licences (Code C)?

The code C driver’s licences in South Africa are meant for heavy motor vehicles with a GVM of 16 000 kg. You must be 18 years or older to apply for this type of drivers licence.

To obtain a code C driving licence you must first hold a full, valid code B driving licence.

The 3 categories under heavy motor vehicle licence code C include the following: 

  1. Code C1 (old code 10 licence)
  2. Code C1 “4” 
  3. Code C

Let’s have a look at the different Code C driver’s licences in South Africa.

Code C1 (old Code 10 licence) - heavy motor vehicles such as minibuses and buses

The code C1 driver’s licence allows you to drive vehicles with a tare weight between 3 500 kg and 16 000 kg with or without a trailer of up to 750 kg.

H3: Code C1 “4” - extra heavy buses

The code C1 “4” driver’s licence is an extra endorsement on the code C1 licence which allows for  the driving of heavy motor vehicles weighing more than 16 000 kg.

Code C - any motor vehicles

The code C driver’s licence is for motor vehicles, buses or goods vehicles with a GVM exceeding 16 000 kg with or without a trailer of up to 750 kg.

To find your nearest DLTC to book your heavy motor vehicle learner’s and driver’s licence, have a look at our Complete List of Driving Licence Testing Centres in South Africa.

Truck lessons Code C

What is a code 10 drivers licence in South Africa?

The code 10 driving licence falls under the C1 category in the new classification system where you are allowed to operate any vehicle with less than 16 000 kg and a trailer of less than 750 kg. The vehicle can have a trailer of not more than 750 kg.

Other special licences for articulated vehicles and towing heavy trailers (Combination and articulated vehicles - Code D)

An articulated vehicle is a vehicle which has a permanent or semi-permanent pivot joint in its construction, allowing it to turn more sharply. There are many kinds of articulated vehicles, from heavy equipment to buses, trams and trains. 

Let’s take a look at some of the different driving licence codes in South Africa required for operating or driving articulated and towing heavy trailer vehicles.

Code EB - a light motor vehicle with a heavy trailer

The code EB driver’s licence is for an articulated light motor vehicle (light motor vehicle drawing a trailer) with a gross combination mass (GCM) not exceeding 3500 kg. 

You must be 18 years or older to apply for a code EB driving licence.

Code EC1(a) - heavy articulated vehicles

The code EC1(a) driver’s licence is for articulated vehicles with a gross combination mass (GCM) of between 3500 kg and 16 000 kgs and with a trailer of more than 750 kgs. 

This code also allows you to drive vehicles in categories B, C1, and EB. You must be 18 years or older to apply for a code EC1(a) driving licence.

Code EC1(b) - rigid heavy vehicles with a heavy trailer

The code EC1(b) driver’s licence allows you to drive rigid heavy vehicles with a gross combination mass (GCM) of not less than 3500 kg and not more than 16 000 kgs and with a heavy trailer with a gross combination mass (GCM) of more than 750 kgs.

This driving licence code also allows you to drive vehicles in categories B, C1 (but with a trailer with a GVM of more than 750 kg), and EB

You must be 18 years or older to apply for a code EC1(b) driving licence.

Code EC(a) - extra heavy articulated vehicles

The code EC(a) driver’s licence authorises you to operate extra heavy articulated vehicles with a gross combination mass (GCM) of more than 16 000 kg.  

This driving licence code also allows you to drive vehicles in categories B, C1, C, EB, and EC1

You must be 18 years or older to apply for a code EC(a) driving licence.

Code EC(b) - extra heavy rigid vehicles with a heavy trailer

The code EC(b) driver’s licence authorises you to operate extra heavy rigid vehicles with a gross combination mass (GCM) of more than 16 000 kg and with a heavy trailer with a gross combination mass (GCM) of more than 750 kgs.

This driving licence code also allows you to drive vehicles in categories B, C1, C, EB, and EC1.

You must be 18 years or older to apply for a code EC(b) driving licence.

For any additional requirements to obtain a driving licence for trucks, heavy, rigid and articulated vehicles in South Africa, contact your nearest Driving Licence Testing Centre (DLTC) for information.

To find your nearest DLTC to book your articulated motor vehicle learner’s and driver’s licence, have a look at our Complete List of Driving Licence Testing Centres in South Africa.

Rigid Truck with trailer

What is a Professional Driving Permit (PrDP) Licence?

PrDP stands for Professional Driving Permit. Before it was called a PrDP, a professional driving permit was originally called a public driver’s permit (PDP) which was issued to drivers of these particular vehicles before 1998.

A professional driving permit (PrDP) is required if you wish to transport goods, fare-paying passengers or tourists for a fee (public transport), and heavy-duty vehicles, for example, lorries, buses and breakdown vehicles. There are some exceptions, though, as you won’t need a PrDP to drive a hearse or a tractor.

With a PrDP driving licence, you can find work as a truck driver, bus driver, taxi driver or courier. You could also look into employment opportunities as a valet or chauffeur in the entertainment industry. 

Which vehicles require a PrDP driving licence in South Africa?

Several various vehicles require a PrDP driving licence in South Africa. We have compiled this list:

  • a goods vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) exceeding 3500 kg;
  • a breakdown vehicle or a bus;
  • a minibus weighing more than 3500 kg or designed to carry 12 or more people (the driver included);
  • any vehicle for which an operating licence is issued and
  • any dangerous goods vehicle such as a fuel tanker.

How old must you be to acquire a PrDP licence in South Africa?

There are some age restrictions on the PrDP driving licence in South Africa, depending on the type of vehicle you want to operate. Currently, the following age restrictions apply to PrDP driving licences in South Africa:

  • you must be 18 years or older to hold a PrDP for a goods vehicle;
  • you must be 21 years or older to hold a PrDP for a passenger vehicle;

you must be 25 years or older to hold a PrDP for a dangerous goods vehicle.

What are the requirements for obtaining a PrDP licence in South Africa?

If you would like to get a PrDP driving licence in South Africa, you should follow the minimum requirements:

  • You just have a valid driving licence for the type of vehicle in question.
  • You should be certified as medically fit by a doctor.
  • You must be certified by an approved training body (only required for dangerous goods vehicles)
  • You do not have a criminal record for (in the past 5 years): 
    1. driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect;
    2. driving a motor vehicle while the concentration of alcohol in your blood or breath exceeded a statutory limitation;
    3. in the case of an application for a category P and D permit, an offence of which violence was an element.
  • You have never had your driving licence suspended and
  • you have never been convicted of a criminal offence or paid an admission-of-guilt fine
minibus taxi

How long does it take to get a driver’s licence in South Africa?

It generally takes between 4 and 6 weeks for code A and code B in South Africa. For larger, heavier vehicles, the average period is 12 weeks.

Helpful Note: Always contact your nearest driver’s licence office to confirm the duration of the different types of driver’s licences.

How much do driving licences cost in South Africa?

To confirm the most current costs for your learner’s and driver’s licence, we advise you to contact your local licensing office.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know and understand all the types of driver’s licences in South Africa, you can start planning the right course for you!

Be sure to check out our articles Part 1: Getting Your Learner’s Licence and Part 2: Getting Your Driver’s Licence for the ultimate advice to guide you through the tests.

It is essential to get the necessary skills for driving any vehicle to ensure that road safety is guaranteed. Get in touch with some of South Africa’s top driving schools and book some lessons to get started.

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