The Car Buyer

South African Vehicle Certificate of registration, Cars Papers.

car certificate of registration

What is a Motor Vehicle certificate of registration?

In a nut shell, the Natis motor vehicle registration certificate is an official watermarked document that ultimately proves ownership of a vehicle.
The Natis Vehicle Certificate of Registration is required when buying or selling a vehicle

Its a physical document containing information that has been logged by the Natis, the data on the certificate of registration corresponds to the information recorded by the traffic department.

About the Cars Papers, (vehicle registration certificate):

The document is unique, the certificate cannot be cloned. It can be photocopied and some shady character can probably attempt to fool you and I but they will fail miserably. Even if a duplicate of the cars papers is re-issued at the traffic department it will never be the same as the original, No two vehicle registration certificates are the same. We explain this further on.

The certificate of registration is also referred to as the "Cars Papers" the "Title Deed" and "the Log Book"

The Natis certificate of registration has changed a few times over the last few decades. At the moment and for quite some time, every traffic department in South Africa has adopted a greenish themed document that is supplied by the department of transport. The Motor vehicle registering authority only prints the information on the page, the theme and watermark is already on the paper before it is inserted to the printer. To prevent fraud and to protect ownership of a vehicle, besides the watermark and the distinctive theme, the fonts used to print the information is unique and not freely available. In some cases, the fonts may change on almost unnoticeable areas.

Even though we have nationally implemented the same system and adopted the same substrate as the official form, this was not the case in the past, just as number plates differ from province to province, certain provinces issued different certificates and they were not identical at the same time. As a matter of fact, even to this day certain registration procedures differ depending on the province you are in.

If you have a document in your hand that says "Certificate of Registration" or "Vehicle Certificate of registration" but it's not green or familiar to you, don't discard of it. It can still be valid. The previous certificate of registration was blue and a long time before that, it was hand written in ink and stamped by an official. As long as theres a control number on the certificate then its still acceptable, if a control number is not printed on the document then it may need to be validated or you can request a new copy of the certificate of registration

Every once in a while we come across an older version of the registration document, When you are selling or buying a car, Its not advisable to accept any previous version of the certificate especially if there isnt a control number, we'll see if we can address this further on.

The contents of a certificate of registration.

Registering Authority: Self-explanatory

Register number: Not to be confused with the license number.
For the Natis system, This is the most important identity number of a vehicle, At TheCarBuyer it’s the primary number that we use to identify a vehicle in-house and it has proven to be the most reliable. When we buy cars, and make payment, we use the register number as reference because these 7 characters rarely change, if the register number of a vehicle is currently recorded as ABC123Z, 20 years later it will still be the same even if the vehicle has changed ownership 100 times. This is not always the case with the License, VIN or Engine number
Unlike the VIN, engine and license number, the register number is not visible on the car itself. The register number is part of the Natis system will be found on the certificate or the license disk

VIN number: Abbreviations for “ vehicle identification number ”. This number corresponds to the chassis of the vehicle and is assigned by the manufacturer. Every VIN number is unique. The VIN number may identify the design of the vehicle, the factory that built or assembled the vehicle, the date that the vehicle was completed or a batch number. The VIN number of a vehicle rarely changes but it is possible, a few scenarios where a VIN number could change:

If the VIN number doesn’t correspond to the log book then you have trouble. The VIN number is cross checked on several transactions. If you intend buying a vehicle, be a safe and weary buyer, ALWAYS check the VIN number, if it doesn’t correspond walk away… FAST!

Engine number, this is also determined by the manufacturer of the engine. The engine number on the certificate will correspond to an engraved or stamped number on the sub assembly of the engine and like the VIN number, it is cross checked to the cars papers on certain transactions. The engine number of a vehicle can change, if the sub-assembly is change the necessary procedures should be followed so the new number corresponds to the natis system, the certificate of registration and the license disk.

Make: the manfucaturer of the vehicle

Series name: the model of the vehicle, in some cases this value can be printed as UNKNOWN

Vehicle category: there are 7 different vehicle categories

Driven: how does the vehicle move on public roads. There are four driven types

Tare: the tare weight of the vehicle, the cost of your vehicles license is determined by the tare weight.

Date of liability for first licensing: this is the date that the vehicle was first introduced to the Natis system, it is not always the true year model. Dont rely on this reading to determine the year model of a vehicle. It can be inaccurate

Vehicle Status: there are 4 different vehicle statuses,

Date liable for registration: This is the date that you took ownership of the car, its is usually determined by the date on the settlement letter, on the notification of change of ownership or the receipt from the seller.

Last license: This will list the last 3 license numbers that was recorded on the system for the vehicle.
It is important to note that it may or may not contain the current license number. It will list the last 3 license numbers since this certificate of registration was printed.  If you purchase a vehicle and the vehicle is issued a new number plate, the new license number will not show on this certificate of registration until the vehicle is sold and registered again, or you apply for a duplicate certificate.
An explanation of this: a license number is assigned on licensing and not on registration.  When you register a vehicle onto your name, you usually license it at the same time. Although this may seem like one transaction, technically the certificate of registration was created before the license even though its mere seconds apart. When the certificate of registration was printed, at that very second the system had not yet recorded the new license number.

Title Holder, The title holder is the legal owner of the vehicle. The title holder possesses higher authority over the vehicle than the owner.

Type of identification. This can be a business registration certificate, a traffic register certificate or a RSA identity document

Identification number of the title holder, Self explanatory

Country of issue. Where the supplied form of identity was issued.

Name: The name of the title holder

Owner, this is not literal. In this context, the owner is the person that is responsible for the car. The owner is accountable for traffic violations, offenses, insurance and licensing of the vehicle. The Owner cannot sell the vehicle, de-register or cross the South African border unless authorized by the Title Holder

Type of identification: Same as above

Identification number: of the owner, Self explanatory

Country of issue Same as above.

Name: of the owner, Self explanatory

Control number, this is one of the most important numbers on this document, it’s a unique identifier for this specific document. Along with the water mark on the certificate and the unique font, the control number makes it impossible to fraud a certificate of registration and get away with it. When you submit a certificate of registration for any transaction, this control number is verified. It is the control number on the certificate of registration that authenticates the validity of a document, think about it in the case where you lose your certificate of registration; you apply for a duplicate and find the original later. The original document becomes void and it’s the control number that differentiates the two.

If you find a document that doent resemble the greenish certificate of registration, the traffic department will accept it as long as its genuine, there is a control number and its labeled as “certificate of registration”. They might have to verify it with a superior but you have the correct document

Issue number: This code is used be eNatis to record the transaction that was used to print the document. I have not confirmed this, but at first glance it seems that 01 identifies a straight forward Vehicle Registration and 02 interprets as a request for a duplicate certificate of registration.

Date of issue. The date the document was printed or issued.

Registering authority at which registered. Self-explanatory

Receipt number: A unique identifier for the transaction and the cost thereof. Even in the case of multiple adding, each transaction will have its own receipt number. You will notice that the teller will add the total of a multiple transaction even though you make one payment, because every transaction is recorded and charged for separately. This is part of the reason why the license number may or may not reflect on the certificate of registration as discussed above.

Total amount received. Cost of this transaction in South African Rands ZAR.

Date: The date of receipt, usually the same as the date of issue. I cant recall the date of transaction and the date of receipt being different.

Recieved by: The name of the teller that assisted you

Method of payment: Single or multiple payment, if you registered and licensed a vehicle it will show as multiple adding, if you request a duplicated certificate or if you only register as the title holder in the case where you’ve settled the vehicle, this was show single transaction.

The exact date and time the document was printed, this is very helpful in determining the validity of the document, at The Car Buyer we used the date and time amongst other things to check the validity of a document before we buy a car. If the Natis system records a certificate of registration that was issued after this time, then we know we have the incorrect version.

The South African Vehicle Certificate of Registration is a crucial document that should be protected, the departments in charge have done an excellent job in maintaining the integrity of the system in place that protects the ownership of vehicles for South African citizens.

There are a few other identifiers or markers on the certificate of registration, for the sake of information we have listed them below, the certificate may tell you:

What makes the certificate of registration unique?

  1. The type of paper
  2. The water mark
  3. The control number
  4. The time and date the document was printed
  5. The traffic department that issued the document
  6. The receipt number
  7. The teller that assisted you
  8. The barcode

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