South African government officials have confirmed the country will be introducing smart driving licences by October 2023.

The existing documents will be phased out over five years, with a new licence that has advanced security features and that meets international standards taking their place.

“We are in the process of seeking cabinet approval for the design of the new card this year. This will then be followed by a procurement process that will enable us to pilot the card and introduce the new card in October 2023. Once we start issuing the new card, we will phase out the current card over a five-year period, which should allow the current cards to expire,” Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said last Thursday.

The Automobile Association welcomed the new driving licence cards but said that existing problems around applying and issuing of cards must be resolved.

“We therefore eagerly await the introduction of new online procedures, which are slated to come into force on 17 February, as a way of dealing more effectively with the procedures around driving licence card renewals,” it said.

The AA welcomed Mbalula’s announcement that research is being conducted into extending the validity period of driving licence cards from its current five-year period.

“The AA has urged government to extend the validity period of driving licences from five to 10 years as a way of dealing more effectively with renewals,” it said.