The time comes in every South African driver’s life when they have to renew their driving license. This can be a harrowing experience involving hours in queues, confusing paperwork and getting far too close to complete strangers. But, there are various ways to reduce the stress. Here is a list of some of the things that I’ve learned renewing my license in Cape Town:

  • Go to New Ottery – this the the new traffic department set up on Old Strandfontein Road in Ottery. It is a much smaller centre, but less people know about it and the staff are generally younger and more jacked up. This means shorter queues and less confusion in your life.
  • Bring Your ID Book – remember, the Government has no idea who you are. But, they instantly remember when you show them your little green book. You’ll need this for everything, from getting your paperwork, paying, or blowing your nose.
  • Get There Early – its trite that the early bird gets the worm, but in Cape Town this is especially true. Capetonians are known for getting to things late. Exploit this to your advantage by being part of the early crew.
  • Bring Cash – we live in the age of technology where electronic payments are everywhere. Except the traffic department. Government offices still only speak the language of cold hard cash and cheques. So do yourself a favour and bring a few hundred rand to pay the admin fees. It’ll save you from running around some part of town you don’t know looking for ATMs you can’t find.
  • Bring Your Own Pen – our government gives us lots of lovely things, but free pens are not one of them. It’ll be a long time before you can do commonplace things, like renew your driver’s license online. Until then, you’ll have to keep a pen handy and try and remember how to write.
  • Bring Something to Do – queues aren’t interesting. So whether you bring an entertaining friend, a good book, or an iPad, queue time is you time.
  • Don’t Let it Get to You – above all, don’t sweat the small stuff. In a hundred years time, there will still be some things that you have to queue for. Endure the discomfort, make the best of it if you can, and look forward to moving on with your life afterwards.

So before you head-out – here’s  a handy checklist of what to take with you:

  1. Your ID book;
  2. Cash;
  3. A pen;
  4. Something to keep you busy; and
  5. A zen-like state of calm.