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.

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

    • You are always able to apply for PrDP, however if you have been convicted your application will be rejected. If you have not yet been convicted you are likely to be granted a PrDP, however if you are convicted while you have a valid PrDP, it will most likely be revoked.

      • A current PrDP can only be revoked for a conviction relating to the use of the PrDP. In other words, if you were convicted for Assault, DUI, Reckless and or negligent dring, etc, then yes. If you were convicted for theft or corruption, which has nothing to do with driving, then, no. A DUI or excessive speeding conviction can definitely cause that. Note that it s possible to get a a PrDP with a conviction. If you have a conviction for a sexual offense, there is no way you can get a P, but you can get a G. The P would give you access to your problem and therefore the P will be denied. If you make a living driving a truck with goods, and with the right motivation, the G can be given. The D classification is very specific. You need to do a course, normallly SETA approved, for the type of dangerous goods you want to transport. Having a G on your PrDP does jot give you Carte Blanché to transport any dangerous goods. There are categories so you cannot have a certificate for Fuel and then decide to transport Dynamite or Liquid gas.

  1. hi, i have paid an admission of guilt for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol in 2015 and its 6 years now, can i now apply for a PDP or i must wait for 10 years to apply.

  2. Hi my husband has a Mercedes car used for uber
    During weekends I d rive it to church
    Police have given me tickets twice for driving the car without pdp. Am I supposed to have one ?

    • Hi Mollen, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the applicable laws.
      If you are not driving the vehicle in the context for which it requires an operator’s licence, I would not expect you to require a PrDP. But as I mentioned, I don’t know the specific law.
      How many passengers can the vehicle take?

    • You are only required to have a PrDP when transporting passengers for remuneration. Private use of a passenger vehicle does not require one

  3. Hi Gareth, To change the subject slightly.
    Do you require an Operating Licence / Transportation Permit to collect your guest and transport them at no charge to and from your lodge.
    Thank you

    • Hi Pieter,
      I’m afraid I’m not too clued up about operator’s licences. ArriveAlive have a post here that seems to imply that the requirements for an operator’s licence seem to match those associated with requiring a PrDP to drive.

      From your description the only one that may apply is “motor vehicle used for the conveyance of persons for reward”.

      I understand that in your situation you are offering the service for free, but it could potentially be seen to be part of their lodging fees, and so I could see it being interpreted by law enforcement, that yes you do require an operator’s licence.

      Always best to give your local traffic department a call.

      • Correct Gareth. The fee would be incorporated in the Lodging fees, so he would require an operators license disc as well as a PrDP

    • If you take a look at the flowchart at the top of the article, weight limits apply to Goods Vehicles, but if you’re transporting passengers, there is no vehicle that doesn’t require a PrDP.

    • If you are driving on private roads, it could be argued that no driver’s licence is required.

      However, insurance providers would likely not cover any events that occur while an unlicensed driver is driving. For example if one of your passengers gets injured while you are driving.
      The decision on whether you need a PrDP or not, is therefore based on: what the lodge requires; what your employer requires; or what your insurance requires if you’re operating independently.

      If you are transporting your clients on public roads at any stage, you definitely require a PrDP.

  4. Your comments are not correct. ANY vehicle, passenger or goods that weighs 3,500kg or more, is subject to the driver of the vehicle being in possession of a valid PrDP. This is whether transporting goods or passengers for free or for compensation, or even if the vehicle is empty. This changed more than 10 years ago. If your PrDP has expired, you may only drive a Code B or EB, until the PrDP has been renewed, even if you have a code EC license.

    Today 04.09.2023, or yesterday, the RTMC made a decision, with much pressure from OUTA, to cancel the hold on vehicle license disc renewals, if the owner has outstanding fines. This is totally illegal as you have every right to defend yourself in a court of law. The only time they may prohibit or withhold the issue of a disc or PrDP, is if the person has an outstanding Warrant of Arrest against his or her name. They would then have to appear in court and either pay a fine, or have the case withdrawn.

    Lastly: Your driving License NEVER EXPIRES. Only the proof thereof in the form of a card. If you get a fine and the card has expired, and they issue you with a fine for driving UNLICENSED, the fine has to be withdrawn. They may only issue you with a fine for driving without proof of a license.

    Thank you


    • Hey Eddie, thanks for your comment. Could you please let me know what comments you feel are wrong so that I can update them.
      I don’t think I’ve made any comments about license disc renewals, and I agree that your driving licence never expires.
      The only grey area I can see is that my post would indicate that you can drive a vehicle with GVM > 3,500kg for personal use, in specific cases.

      • Hey Gareth. You are welcome to ask me any question/s relating to the NRTA 93 of 1996. I will do my best to answer them for you. The answers will also be ‘up to date’ as I am subscribed to LexisNexis, who publish the Act and any changes, as they are promulgated and Gazetted

        • Hi Eddie, appreciate that.
          The only hangup I have still revolves around the PrDP for private vehicles/use, where the GVM is over 3.5tons.
          There seem to be countless posts supporting the fact that if you have a campervan, or Ford F250, or other large vehicle, with GVM > 3.5 tons, that you are using for your own private use, that a PrDP is not required. Even the government’s website only references “goods vehicles” and “mini-buses” that are over 3.5 tons, as opposed to saying, “all vehicles” over 3.5 tons.

          Has this law changed at any stage, or does the actual wording of the clause in the NRTA (as opposed to all these interpretations) say something clearly different?

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  5. Good day,
    I have a code 8 eb with pdp and just got my code 10 license of Late, do I have to get PDP for or on the code 10 license now as well or is the one I got on my code 8 of the same year valid for the code 8 as well?

    • Hi Deon,
      Is it a P or a G class PrDP? I would think a P class would still be valid. But best to give the traffic department a call to confirm.

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