Hiring a car in South Africa

Most foreigners hire or buy a car in South Africa. This is because the road system is excellent and even drivers used to driving on the right hand side of the road, get accustomed to left-hand driving quickly.

South Africa is ideal for driving, and away from the main bus and train routes, having your own wheels is the best way to get around. Renting a car (or hiring a car) in South Africa and touring the country independently is an excellent vacation option, especially for families with children. Most of our major roads are in excellent condition, and off the main routes there are interesting back roads to explore.

Below we provide information about travelling around South Africa by car. Read on for guidelines on renting a car and tips for driving it, as well as advice on embarking on a self-drive tour of the country and find out how far it is between the major towns.

Car rental is relatively inexpensive in South Africa. Rates start at about US$30 (R200) per day, including insurance and 200km free per day. Rental of a 4WD starts at about US$60 (R400).

Petrol costs around US$1.40 (R10) per litre, and must be paid for in cash although most petrol stations accept bank approved cards these days. There is no self-service. An attendant will always fill up your tank for you, clean your windows and ask if the oil or water needs checking, and should be tipped .Along main routes in South Africa there are plenty of petrol stations, many open 24 hours.

In the major centres of Cape Town and Johannesburg, renting a car is easy to arrange. However, we strongly recommend that you consider your options carefully, checking that the company is reputable and inspecting your vehicle before signing it out!

There are many car rental agencies operating in the South Africa such as:

Remember: Car Rental prices often differ significantly and check your insurance cover and excess which all the companies handle differently.

Car size is important. South Africa’s primary roads are well maintained, but many secondary and small roads are un-tarred or prone to potholes. If you might be leaving the main road network, consider hiring a larger car with better suspension.

Having air-condition in your rental car is a must in South Africa, especially in summer when the temperatures can feel scorching.

Important Documents when hiring a car in South Africa

  • Valid Driver’s Licence
  • Passport or Picture ID Card
  • Credit Card or Cash Payment

Print up documents regarding any private insurance from outside the rental agency to prove that you have it, especially in the case of younger drivers.

What to consider when hiring a car in South Africa:

  • Insist on unlimited mileage.
  • Get full/comprehensive insurance cover.
  • Opt for Zero Excess, this means you will not have to pay for any damage to the car.
  • Get written confirmation for one way rentals when booking. Transfers are often possible at additional cost, but must be confirmed to you in writing.
  • Opt for a rental car agency with Round-the-clock-breakdown service or check if your national automobile club offers a partnership with the local AA in South Africa.
  • Consult with your auto insurance company and your credit card company regarding the insurance terms extended to car rentals in South Africa. Your existing auto insurance policy may cover international rentals (in which case it should include South Africa), and your credit card company should extend some coverage to any car rented with the card.
  • Ask rental car agencies in South Africa, either by e-mail or calling them directly, about their insurance programs and supplementary insurance in particular. South Africa has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the world, so this is a place where you want strong collision and personal accident coverage.
  • Ask for a Letter of Authority from the rental car agency if you intend to drive the car over international borders and out of South Africa.

When something goes wrong hiring a car in South Africa:

  • Make sure you take out sufficient insurance cover for your car. You might consider taking out passenger insurance too.
  • Always take along the break-down emergency number of the AA, when you travel.
  • Should you have a car tyre puncture, get the tyre fixed at a local Hi-Q, SupaQuick, KwikFit Tyres or Speedy Tyres Shop.

If you have any questions with regard to hiring a car in South Africa or immigrating to South Africa please feel free to contact one of our experienced immigration consultants.