Vehicle buyers are legally required to produce several documents before purchasing a new or used car from a registered dealership in South Africa. Failure to present the most important documents may make it troublesome or even impossible to complete a purchase. Even if the vehicle is not a particularly expensive one, there may be a requirement to show an acceptable form of ID or produce insurance documents. Private owners selling a vehicle through classified advertisements may not make such demands, but there are considerations to make for later, such as producing the registration documents legally required of buyers by the South African Government. With that in mind, it is worthwhile to consider what documents may be required when buying a car, and what documents buyers should always ensure they request from sellers before sealing the deal.
Though not required for completing the purchase of a used car, the roadworthy certificate is perhaps the most important document to consider if buying second hand. It is strongly advised to check that any vehicle has this document before completing a purchase because it proves that the car is safe to drive. A roadworthy certificate is issued to the car rather than the driver, and it proves that a professional mechanic has completed an inspection of the vehicle and found it to be roadworthy. If a used car does not already have a roadworthy certificate, it may prove to be unreliable or require a large number of repairs, even if it looks okay at the time of sale.
A valid photo ID is a necessary requirement if making a sizable purchase in South Africa because large sums of money are involved. Large purchases typically include functioning motor vehicles as well as caravans or boats. First introduced in 2003, the credit card-style driving licence is a sufficient form of photo ID as it is an official document. Some dealers may not allow you to purchase a newer vehicle without showing a valid licence, so it is best to opt for a licence rather than other forms of photo ID.
Older forms of paper ID without a recent picture are not acceptable, and paper licences printed before 2003 are also not satisfactory. If you do not have a photo licence, a valid passport that has not expired is an acceptable form of identification in most cases, as is a South African ID book. A South African Identification Book is available for any South African citizen or permanent resident over the age of 16 through the Department of Home Affairs using form DHA-9.
Invoice or Proof of Payment
All used vehicles require registration with the government and proof of payment is required to show that the transaction was legal. Purchasing a new car from a dealership is guaranteed to ensure the buyer receives a proper receipt of sale. Consumers that are making a second hand purchase from a classified advertisement may overlook this detail, as it is not necessary to show where the money came from to buy the car. However, applying for official government documents later on might prove problematic without a bill of sale. Potential buyers of used vehicles should always request a receipt of some type to avoid complications later on, even if buying a second hand car from a private owner.
If you already own a car, you should always take your current registration certificate along when buying a new car. If a potential purchase has a previous owner, it should always come with a current registration document to prove the vehicle is legally registered with the government. The new buyer may not need to bring this document along when purchasing a car, but it is good to take it along just in case. The registration certificate of any vehicle to be purchased is of particular importance to a potential buyer. If there is no registration certificate with the new vehicle, it may not be road legal. The new owner of a vehicle also has a responsibility to attempt to register it with the government. Failure to do so within 21 days may result in a large fine or accrue penalty points on the new owner's licence. Duplicate registration documents are available from the government if they are lost or destroyed, so there is no reason for a potential buyer to purchase a used car without one.
There are many documents to consider before purchasing a vehicle, not just those legally required of a potential buyer. Be sure to have all of your paperwork in order before attempting to make a purchase, as it can be disheartening to find the perfect vehicle only to be told you cannot drive it home. If you are sure you have all of the relevant documentation, you can find a large range of used and new vehicles using classified ads.