When do you require a PDP / PrDP licence?

I was recently in a discussion with friends over when one actually needs a PDP licence? One of them is a missionary who often transports people around in one of the church’s Quantums. Investigating the situation it all comes down to how you want to define certain things. The following is the simplest breakdown to determine if you need one or not:

Click for full size modified from: foresightpublications.co.za

Click for full size
modified from: foresightpublications.co.za

The biggest thing to decide is on the concept of paying customers. Certain websites state it as “a motor vehicle used for the conveyance of persons for reward” and others as “other vehicle carrying paying passengers”. These are two very different topics. In my friend’s case, the passengers aren’t paying, but she may be receiving remuneration for her work at the church and such as is required to drive the mini-bus as part of her duties, thus she would fall in this category.

If we look at the regulation itself:

National Road Traffic Act, 1996 – National Road Traffic Regulations, 1999 – Chapter V: Fitenss of Drivers – Part IV: Professional Driving Permit – 115: Certain drivers of certain vehicles to hold professional driving permit

1) Subject to the provisions of subregulation (2), a professional driving permit shall be held by the driver of –

… e) a motor vehicle used for the conveyance of persons for  reward …

Thus if she is being remunerated for her work she would probably require one. It also explains why on sports tours at university we didn’t require one, as we were not being paid for driving.

Other things to note:

  • The currently used Professional Driving Permit (PrDP) is the continuation of the old Public Driving Permit (PDP) which was used pre 1998 and excluded certain provisions which are now included under the PrDP.
  • Price will vary with time.
  • A D (dangerous goods) licence includes a G (goods) licence.
  • One can hold both a P (people) and G, or P and D PrDP licence at the same time.
  • The minimum age for a PrDP licence is 18 for a G licence, 21 for a P licence, and 25 for a D licence.
  • If it’s a goods vehicle under 3.5 tons, it does not require a PrDP.
  • If it’s a vehicle of any size used to carry passengers for reward, or has 12 or more seats, a PrDP is required.
  • Almost all vehicles over 3.5 tons will require a PrDP, either for carrying passengers or as a goods vehicle. This is irrelevant of whether you are transporting goods or passengers at the time or not.
  • A vehicle over 3.5 tons, but is not a goods vehicle, does not require a PrDP. I’ve seen several people make mention of the Ford F250 and how traffic officer’s have demanded a PrDP. According to the law it is not required unless it can be defined as a goods vehicle. It does however require a C1 (old code 10) or higher licence.

This opens another discussion on the definition of goods vehicle. The RTA defines goods as

any movable property

and a goods vehicle as

a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, motor tricycle, motor quadrucycle, motorcar, minibus or bus, designed or adapted for the conveyance of goods on a public road and includes a truck-tractor, adaptor dolly, converter dolly and breakdown vehicle

Which is very vague, so people who get fines for their F250 should probably just right a nice letter trying to explain how their vehicle is a private vehicle and should not fall under the definition of a goods vehicle.

To get a PrDP you must also not have been convicted of certain crimes within the space of 5 years (NRTA):

if the applicant has, within a period of five years prior to the date of the application, been convicted of or has paid an admission of guilt on –
i)    driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect;
ii)    driving a motor vehicle while the concentration of alcohol in his or her blood exceeded a statutory limitation;
iii)    reckless driving; or
iv)    in the case of an application for a category “P” and “D” permit, an offence of which violence was an element;

With regards to foreign/international/overseas driver’s licences, the exact law is unclear and interpreted differently. My interpretation of the NRTA (specific section) matches Fleetwatch here. If you wish to drive a vehicle that requires a PrDP, you either need a South African licence with a PrDP, or you need a licence from a prescribed country with their equivalent of the PrDP (for example Zimbabwe’s Defensive Driving Licence). If you have a licence from any other country you are not permitted to drive such a vehicle.

This is however countered by the AA in this response of their’s in which they essentially state that if you are allowed to drive a PrDP vehicle in your country, you can drive it in SA.

Please note, I am in no way an expert with regards to traffic laws or any related topic, I am merely laying out the information as I’ve found it, all comments below are also given with a view from the facts I know, always enquire at your local traffic department when uncertain.

684 thoughts on “When do you require a PDP / PrDP licence?

  1. I am a teacher and we transport children on a regular basis to and from matches.
    It varies from 2 tot 16 children at a time.
    Do we only need the PDP if we are transporting more than 12 kids with a vehicle over 3,5 tons?
    Somehow I thought it is different for teachers and that they HAVE to have a PDP to transport any amount of learners…

    • Because you are transporting the children as part of your work responsibilities, that is you are transporting people for reward, you require a PrDP regardless of the number of passengers.

  2. Hi Gareth, if an employee delivers stock to a customers with their personal vehicle (car or a bakkie) do they need a pdp?

    • Hi Elize, if they are only delivering goods (i.e. no passengers), and they are driving a vehicle with GVM under 3,500kg, they should not require a PrDP.

  3. hi i am in possession of a red seal ( blasting permit) but use a code 8 licence vehicle with all the signage and required documentation in place and up to date,
    do i require a pdp if i transport blasting caps and detonating fuses the police says its not needed if all documents and signage is in place but a few traffic officers says i should have a pdp and others says i don’t, please could you be so kind as to assist me in this confusing dilemma.

  4. Hi, can a horse & trailer fully loaded within the capacity range be driven with a EC license? (Not dangerous goods but mostly merchandise? My drivers license indicates CE but I found you get CE1 and CE2 codes as well?
    Thanks for your anticipated time.

    • An EC licence is the ‘greatest’ licence you can get, it allows you to drive any vehicle combination with a GVM/GCM above 16 tons.
      An EC1 only allows you to drive up to 16 tons, and I’ve never heard of an EC2.
      A PrDP is additionally required to drive any goods vehicle above 3.5 tons.

  5. Hi, I am hiring a 14 seater quantum from Cape Town to transport school students on a UK school trip. I am attending the trip voluntarily and do not receive reward for running it. It takes place during school holidays and not term time. I hold a UK Licence with category D1:
    “Vehicles with up to 16 passenger seats plus driver, with trailer up to 750kg”
    Will that suffice or would an international driver need a PDP too?

    • Hi Peter, unfortunately because the vehicle is designed to transport more than 12 people, a PrDP is required, regardless of volunteer status or foreign driver’s licence.

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