New Number Plates on the Cards for South Africans

   New Number Plates for South Africans | Car Insurance News |


The Department of Transport has announced that South Africans are set to get new number plates in 2017. This plan was first announced on 28 January 2015 through a notice sent to all South Africans, outlining the department's intentions. The draft regulation amendments have been open to public debate since then, with both positive and negative comments arising. We look into the idea around the proposed new number plates, what they will look like, and how it will affect drivers in South Africa.


What will the new number plates look like?


The new number plates are set to be embossed in aluminium plate, with their backgrounds printed with a reflective surface. Under the new law each number plate must contain:


  • An SABS certification mark
  • A four dimensional bar code with QR code that reveals the registration number of the manufacturer of blank number plates.
  • The abbreviated name of the manufacturer of the blank number plate
  • The sequential number on the bottom left of the number plate


Letters and figures must be displayed in the following colours:


  • Black – public transport vehicles
  • Blue – general vehicles and personalised number plates
  • Red – government vehicles
  • Green – diplomatic vehicles


New number plates must display:


  • The South African flag on the top left corner
  • Licence number and licence mark of the province
  • The name of the province under the South African flag


Along with the essentials of maintaining your vehicle such as renewing your licence disc and driver’s licence, and ensuring you have Car Insurance, drivers will have to renew their number plates every five years. Aside from this though, there seem to be no other rules and regulations tied to the new number plates as of yet. Only time will tell if any more regulations will be set out for drivers to follow. It is still unclear when the new number plates will be rolled out in 2017, as the proposed amendment is still under review and open to suggestions before final approval.


While the new system is very much up in the air, there are some positives and negatives to its introduction. We outline the main arguments for and against the new number plates below.


New Number Plates for South Africans | Licence Plate




  • Having one standardised number plate throughout the country makes far more sense, as we are not a federation of independent states like the United States.
  • The new system will not allow Members of the Executive Council (MEC’s) to decide the background of number plates, as in the past some number plates have had so many images added to them, that they become difficult to read.
  • All new number plates will be made out of aluminium, which doesn’t melt as easily as plastic does in an accident or in the event of fire.
  • The five-year renewal policy will ensure all number plates stay reflective, and in turn ensure the safety of motorists.




  • The QR barcode will most likely only benefit the companies who make and sell number plates, as most traffic officers will not have 4D QR barcode readers.
  • It is unclear whether the drivers will be charged for the five-year renewal process. If drivers will be charged for renewing their number plates, this might cause unrest as drivers will most likely not be happy about the additional charge.
  • As there is no concrete plan in place that provides proposed fees and plans, South Africans are less likely to trust the system.


While the plan for new number plates is still in the pipeline and open to public opinion, it seems South Africans are not too confident in it. In a poll sent out by Wheels24, 87% of respondents believed the new plates are a money-making scheme, 3% believed the new plates look good, and 10% were indifferent. With one in five vehicle number plates cloned in Gauteng, it would be valuable to know whether the new plates would help in the prevention of this crime, and other forms of vehicle crimes. It seems very little is known about the new plates, but it is hoped more clarity will be given in the near future. South Africans will have to be reassured of the value of the new plates in order to buy into the project.

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Our trusted partners