The Car Buyer

Lost certificate of registration.

Replacing your Cars Natis Document

The certificate of registration, also called the log book, cars papers or title deed is one document you dont want to lose. Losing or misplacing the document can expose yourself or your vehicle to risk and it becomes unpleasant when you are faced with a situation where you need to produce the certificate of registration...
Think, Selling my car! No Papers = Lost Buyer

How to do you replace a lost certificate of registration

A lost certification of registration can be replaced by applying for a duplicate at the motor vehicle registering authority.

Who can apply for a new copy of the certificate of registration?

For a lost certificate of registration, only the title holder can request a copy of the cars papers or in the case of a deceased estate, the executor is authorized to request a duplicate copy of the certificate of registration / log book.

If you are the registered title holder you simply grab your ID, R150.00 and join the queue at the traffic department.

Its important to note that even though the transaction for requesting a duplicate certificate of registration is the same throughout South Africa, not all provinces follow the same method of authorization or verification and they don’t all supply a duplicate certificate immediately.

In the Western Cape, if you lose the certificate of registration you can apply for a duplicate and a new one will be issued over the counter, this is convenient if you are selling a car in Cape Town and need a copy of the papers in a hurry, other provinces may take longer and you could end up waiting anything from 5 days to 6 weeks to receive a duplicate.

If you aren’t the registered owner and you don’t have the certificate of registration then it might not be lost, maybe you never had it in the first place or;
If you had the certificate of registration but failed to register yourself as the title holder and then lost it, the traffic department will not assist you, eitherway, continue reading to see which solution suits you bests.

The procedure for finding the original document or requesting a duplicate of the cars papers depends on your circumstances
Initially, the certificate of registration can only be issued by the traffic department, and not any traffic department either, it has to be a motor vehicle registration authority. The traffic office that issues you with your drivers license is not always the same department that oversees motor vehicle registrations especially in larger cities.

You financed the car from the bank

From all the queries we receive and personal experience with sellers, 90% of the time the cars papers is with the bank. Its common misconception that people assume their vehicles certificate of registration will magically appear once they’ve settled the vehicles finance.

Unfortunately the bank is not very clear about this and probably for good reason. Eventually when you decide to sell your car and you need the cars papers, you would think the cars papers are lost.

Once your car is settled and paid in full, you have to request the vehicles registration documents to be sent and the onus is on you to transfer ownership from the bank/financier to yourself and register as the title holder.

If you financed the vehicle and you are sure the bank hasn’t already sent the vehicles paper work to you:
You can request the certificate of registration via telephone, the bank will verify that you are the owner with a few security questions. They then retrieve the paperwork from their archives and post the documents to you. Once received you can register the car on your name and you will receive the certificate of registration.

I lost the registration that the bank send me

If you financed your vehicle the paperwork was sent to the bank. The vehicle was registered with you as the owner and the bank as the title holder. When the vehicle was settled you requested the documents from the bank as discussed above. If you lost these documents before registering yourself as the title holder you will not be able to request a duplicate. You need to contact the bank as before, this time around there will be a fee involved and the wait could be much longer

Its important to note: If you request a copy of the certificate of registration from the bank for a second time, make a point of requesting all 4 documents needed to transfer ownership and ask them to send you a new settlement/paid-up letter. The reason: If you lost the certificate of registration only, you may still have the proxies ID and the original settlement letter. The thing is, proxies change and the one you have may be invalid. Also, the settlement letter that you may have, the one that was originally sent to you, it could be dated and signed. In some cases, when a settlement letter is dated and signed by the proxy, then that document constitutes a receipt and the date liable for registration will start from the date the settlement letter was issued. After 21 days you incur a penalty for late registration. So lets say the you settled the finance of your vehicle 2 years ago at which point the bank sent you a settlement letter, if you use the same settlement letter to register a vehicle today you may be penalized for 2 years of late registration

I misplaced the certifcate of registration that the dealership or seller gave me

Case (1) You are the registered title holder

If you bought a used vehicle, some dealerships charge on the road fees. It’s a total rip off and a sneaky way to squeeze money from the buyer but if you were caught it the trap and paid for something they shouldve been done as a courtesy then they will register the vehicle for you and supply you with a certificate of registration where you are registered as the owner and the title holder.

Some car dealerships dont charge on the road fees, amongst those that don’t, a few will still roadworthy, register and license the vehicle on your behalf.
In some cases the same may apply if you bought a vehicle privately. A weary private seller might insist that the vehicle be registered onto your name before you take delivery.

If you lost the certificate of registration that was given to you when you took delivery of the vehicle in case 1, you should be the title holder and you can request an official copy of the document at the traffic depart

Case (2)  You are not the registered title holder

Some used car dealers will sell you a vehicle without registration, the responsibility of registering and licensing a car would fall on you as the buyer, this is also the case if you bought a vehicle from a private seller. The seller or dealer would invoice you for the vehicle and send you on your way with a receipt, a signed and stamped yellow form and certificate of registration where they (The car dealership or seller) is the title holder and owner.
If this matches your case then you were supposed to submit these documents to the traffic department within 21 days. If you failed to do so and lost the certificate of registration, the previous owner is still registered as title holder and there should be a pending sale on the car.
A “pending sale” means the seller has informed the traffic department that a new buyer is on their way to register the car and that someone else is now responsible for traffic offenses.
If this sounds familiar to you then the new owner (you) and the previous owner (seller) will have to request a duplicated of the cars certificate of registration together. They literally have to stand in the same queue at the same time and request a copy of the papers from the same teller.
However, if they failed to submit the change of ownership then the seller can request a duplicate of the cars papers for you, this may require a bit of begging on your part and the very least they will charge you is the cost of the transaction

My papers are lost and im not in South Africa anymore

This is quite common, you took a job abroad and your car is standing in the garage collecting dust. You decide to sell your vehicle and ask a relative to advertise the car for you. They find you a buyer but the certificate of registration is missing and not where you said it was. You are the only person that can request a duplicate but you're stuck in a another country for the next 8 months.

What do you do?

The exact recipe depends on your situation.
The overall procedure starts with a phonecall and ends once you have authorized a representative to request a duplicate of the cars papers on your behalf. This authorization is instructed by you but issued and recorded by the MVR.

You need to contact the department of transport in the province that the vehicle is registered in and seek proper adviced based on your situation.
What we can tell you for certain is that you will need to prove your inability to attend to the matter yourself, they could request a copy of your visa, work permit, letter of employment etc. They will most certainly verify the information and your ownership of the vehicle.

The last successful case that I remember took about 4 weeks.

I dont know if I am the Title Holder

Dont be embarrassed, A lot of us don’t put too much thought into the process, the dealership sells us a vehicle or we buy a car privately and take it for granted that all the paperwork will be in order, somewhere down the line you find yourself in a situation that’s totally confusing. You discover that you aren’t the registered title holder and the traffic department is not prepared to give you a duplicate certificate registration.
A good rule of thumb, if you paid cash for your car and you renewed the license yourself by standing in the queue then you are the title holder and you will be able to request acopy of the cars papers.
If you still aren’t sure, maybe we can help. At The Car Buyer we query a substantial amount of vehicles on a daily basis, send us your name, the make of the vehicle and the register number of the car and we will confirm your ownership status as soon as we get a chance

When do you need the certificate of registration?

Selling a car

Most of the time, the registration document is needed when you are selling your car. You have a hand shake agreement or fist bump with a potential buyer and you can’t find the cars papers. You promised the buyer, the buyers partner and 3 children that the certificate of registration was safely tucked away in your cupboard and now you realize the document is lost. Suddenly you feel the pressure, you feel a little ashamed and you don’t know where to put your face so you blame the poor maid!

Buying a vehicle

Any vehicle that is used for transportation of anything on public roads must have a certificate of registration with the exception of a bicycle. Bicycles are categorized under leisure and sport. If you buy a vehicle be sure to obtain the original most recent certificate of registration from the seller, if they cant find the certificate of registration, walk away. A car, regardless of how cheap it is, is an almost useless ornament if the certificate of registration is lost.

For police clearance. Obtaining a police clearance involves a procedure that requires the certificate of registration

For roadworthy, some roadworthy centers will ask for the certificate of registration. They don’t really need it because all the information is available on the license disk, some of them are just difficult! The certificate of registration is a document you should keep safe, so don’t let it bother you. Make sure you don’t lose it. Keep it safe so its readily available when needed

I never had the certificate of registration, the cars papers were never given to me.

Every once in a while we get a phone call or email enquiry where the caller will ask for advice, they cant find the papers of the car, they never had it to begin with and the traffic department refuses to assist them.

What do they do in this case, how can they obtain a copy of the certificate of registration so they can register and license the vehicle? At the same time, what can they do with a car that doesn’t have papers after everything else has failed?

Unfortunately we don’t have a “universal” answer for them and we never will!

We can advise you and provide a possible solution but it might not work for you.

First of all, you need to understand the importance of the certificate of registration, if it was easy for anybody to obtain the certificate of registration for a vehicle that never officially belonged to them, there would be complete chaos. The certificate of registration secures the ownership of a vehicle, it’s a title deed and the only physical proof that’s officially recognized for an owner to prove a vehicle belongs to them.

If we didn’t have the registration and licensing process, anybody could steal a car, print a fake invoice and lay false claim to it.

That being said, there is some hope provided your case is genuine and you make an effort.

Before we explain I want to make a few things clear, the reason why we added this to the very bottom of the document is so that it doesn’t get a lot of attention, we don’t want to spread false hope but we also understand the sensitivity of the situation of some cases.

A vehicle is an expensive necessity, its not always something you can easily replace and to have a car that you cant do anything with is heart sore.

We also need to mention, it is impossible for anybody to obtain an authentic certificate of registration for a vehicle that has been acquired illegally, but we encourage you to try so you can get arrested and society can be freed of one more criminal.

There are genuine cases where you bought a vehicle, you had all the correct paperwork but it was lost, stolen or damaged.
To make matters worse, the previous owner has passed on or you can’t get hold of them, maybe they moved abroad or changed address and contact number. Whatever the reason, you are a sitting duck. We will use this example to illustrate a solution that may or may not work.

The first thing you need to do is go to the traffic department, try to request a copy of the cars papers and let them reject your application.

Now you’ve tried, and most importantly they know you’ve tried. At the same time, explain your situation and hear what they have to say, the only thing they can tell you is to get hold of the previous owner and they will probably assure you its the only solution and nothing else could be done.

Follow the instructions. Try your best to get hold of the owner, visit the address and call them again even though you know the previous owner is not there or the contact number is invalid. Make a note of every attempted phone call and visit.

A few days later, do the same, call the previous owner, visit the address, ask the neighbors if they know the whereabouts of the person and make a note of everything that you’ve tried.

Once you’ve exhausted all your options and you are absolutely sure that the person is unreachable, go back to the same traffic department and speak to the person that dealt with you previously. Explain your situation again and tell them everything that you’ve tried.

The reason for this exercise it that: the traffic department and the employees behind the counter are bound by hard rules, they cannot issue a legal document of such significance to a person that isn’t duly authorized to request it. At the same time they also understand that there are legitimate situations that require human intervention and the system allows for certain cases to be considered and reviewed. To start this procedure you need to be transparent and they need to be sure that you have tried everything in your power.

If they believe that you have truly tried everything in your power to contact the previous owner and to resolve the problem, then they will assist you or advise you appropriately. If they don't assist you its because you haven't convinced them enough or your story is fishy.
If you get this far and they give you the time of day the next few steps may involve the following

  • Writing a sworn affidavits at the police station explaining your case in detail. The more information you declare the better your chances. Explain the whole procedure from the beginning and elaborate as much as possible. 
  • They will verify and cross check everything that you have stated. Keep in mind, they have access to information that you don't have. They will confirm the contact details of the previous owner and the address to make sure you weren't lying. They might even contact the previous owner and chances are, they have the new contact details or address of the person.
  • In some cases you may need to take the vehicle for police clearance. If you do, it could have very little to do with the car potentially being stolen, more than likely they want to see you will make the effort. If you are being dishonest you wouldn't risk taking the vehicle for police clearance.  
  • Once you've provided everything they've requested your case will be submitted to someone higher up for consideration. This higher authority will probably make sure you and the person who has been assisting you is not working in cohorts. They will reconsider and recheck everything and contact you with a yay or nay.

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