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.

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

    • Ec1 is vehicles with GVM up to 16tons and trailer. Ec is vehicles over 16 tons with trailer. Both are truck drivers depending on size

  1. I have applied 4 pdp,riceived sms for my fingerprints,but they say is rejected two times does that mean I must apply again.

  2. Hi Gareth,

    We have an au pair who works for us two afternoons a week and we require her to fetch our children from school etc. Sometimes we require her to bring the children’s friends home as well. However, she is now saying that she cannot transport other children, only ours as she is worried about legal liability. She said she has our children covered by her parents insurance (which I find a bit confusing).
    Does this mean that au pairs should now have a PrDP (which would be quite limiting as to who you can employ with age restrictions) to transport any child in their care?

    • Hey Maree, from a technical standpoint, it seems an au-pair would require a PrDP, as they are being paid to transport people as part of their job. The only time I see this really being an issue is when one needs to claim from insurance, for that reason I’d advise speaking directly to your and your au-pair’s insurance directly, and check what they require.

  3. In april 2015 I was arrested for domestic violence and my wife withdrawn the case.Can I get my PrDP and will my criminal record be cleared

  4. hi Gareth
    Thanx a lot for a quick response.But forgot to mention that she withdrawn the case after 2 weeks I applied for PrDP.So will my fingure prints be rejected or not as the SAPS system does not work together with the court system.and the time I was applying for PrDP the case was still on but not convited.If ever my fingure prints are rejected will I be able to reapply immediately and how long will it for fingure prints g

  5. I need to drive about 5/6 old folk at a retirement village to the shops and back twice a week. The kombi used is under 3500 kg. The lifting is not part of my job description. Do I need a PRDP

    • Hi Ron, it may not be part of your job description, but I assume you’re doing it as part of your work?
      If you’re doing it in your private capacity, and not being remunerated for it, then you don’t need a PrDP, otherwise you do.

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