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.

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

  1. Good day,
    I want to transport an elderly physically impaired family member from Bloemfontein to Cape Town with a 14 seater Quantum. We will have to remove at least 3 seats to fit a matress for him. Will I need a Pdp? I am a pensioner and is doing this as a favour. It will be me ( driver) my wife, my sister and her husband ( 4 people in total). I have an EB licence.
    Please advise urgently.

    • Hi Henry,
      Even though you are removing seats, the vehicle will be registered to carry 14 people, and as such requires a PrDP. If possible I’d advise trying to get a 12 seater Quantum or similar vehicle instead.

  2. Hi my name is Jacky. I would like to know the following. I have a breakdown bakkie. I like to use it as a bakkie only, not for pivk-ups. Do I need a pdp for that or can I drive my bakkie as is?

    And I only have code 8. Can you get a pdp on code 8 or do I have to go for code 10?

    • Hi Jacky,

      So as you’re probably aware, if you are driving a tow-truck you are supposed to have a PrDP-G. You say you drive it just as a general vehicle, but that becomes hard to enforce. Much like you require a PrDP-P to drive a vehicle capable of transporting more than 12 people, regardless of how many people are actually in the vehicle.

      I assume the vehicle is sometimes used as a breakdown vehicle but not by you. If it is never used as a breakdown vehicle, then you should have it decommisioned, so it is just a normal bakkie.

      As for getting a PrDP, you can get one regardless of the code of your driver’s licence. So you can get a PrDP with a code 8.

  3. Hi, My name Nelly. I will be driving a Corsa bakkie from Cape town to Eastern cape. along with my grandpa and 3 Aunts. I have valid code 10/C1. please advise if PrDP is Needed in this instance?

    your prompt response will be highly appreciated/
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Nelly,
      If you are just transporting your family, there are less than 12 people in the vehicle, and they’re not paying you to drive them (they can of course pay for petrol etc, but that you’re not charging them) you do not need a PrDP.
      You must ensure that if you are transporting people in the back of the bakkie, that you have a canopy.
      Be careful on the roads, and hope you have a safe drive!

  4. Good day, a friend has asked me to transport her son during school times,and she stated that she will pay me for this. I understand that if I accept money on behalf of transport I need a PDP, and I would like to know what are the consequences of driving for money without one. My friend is REALLY insistent, and I need to illustrate to her that if I do this I will be breaking the law. Please shed any light on what would happen if I am caught? I don’t want to jeopardise my license or track record for the sake of money and helping a friend, but I don’t think she is going to take anything less than hard proof that I physically cannot do this legally.

    I live in South Africa for the purposes of the law.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hey Kushra,
      You seem to have the correct interpretation. If you’re being paid to transport someone, you need a PrDP. This includes au pairs and other service people who are required to transport people as part of their job. As for repercussions. Most likely for a first offense you’d face a hefty fine.

      • Hi Gareth, thank you so much for your reply. I thought as much but I couldn’t find anything concrete about what the penalty would be. Thanks again, I can now drive in peace :)

  5. Good Day
    if the workers/Drivers at our company drive a Nissan Np300 with 2 passenger with him in front , and travel with tools and equipment at the back to and from site, please advise if PrDP is Needed in this instance?

    • Hi Craig,
      If your employees are transporting people (even other employees) as part of their work they most likely require a PrDP-P as they are “transporting people for reward”.

  6. Hi Gareth,
    I bought a old 16 seater bus and removed all the seats and revamping it as a camper. Tarra 5200kg. So I wont transporting any goods or passenger. Will I require a PrDP

    • Hey Lawrence, if you have your vehicle registered as a motorhome you should not need a PrDP. If it is still licenced as a bus it does require a PrDP.
      Here are some reference documents with additional information: link.

  7. Hi my name is SOLOMON since 2018 of july i was applying my PDP i din’t get even today i was trying several times but nothing happen and i paid all that they direct me to do.

    • Hi Solomon, sorry I can’t help, you have to contact the traffic department directly to get information about your application.

  8. Hi Gareth
    Very helpful blog, Thank you.
    I question your interpretation of “transporting for reward”. Surely there must a nexus between the transport and the reward? One employee simply having a co-worker as a passenger in a company bakkie should not be caught. The driver is rewarded for his work duties, not for the incidental driving.

    • Hi Bill
      I’m always looking for new interpretations, or feedback from people who have different experiences with how the law is applied. This article from Ambition services, seems to support my interpretation, that even if the transport of a passenger is incidental to the job, because you have a passenger, the driver requires a PrDP.

      Please let me know if you’ve had different experiences

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