How to Operate a Transport Business in South Africa

Updated on 30 January 2023

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transport business

South Africa presents many opportunities for those in the transport business. The country has loads of bus transport routes, and all kinds of industries rely on transport in order to operate. This means starting the right kind of transport business can be highly rewarding. However, it’s important to understand what goes into starting and operating a transport business in South Africa. This guide will cover some of the key steps, licenses, and requirements that transport business owners need to know.

Establish Your Position in the Market

Starting a transport business in South Africa can be a lucrative venture. However, there is also a lot of tough competition. This is why it’s so important that transport business owners establish exactly how and where their business will fit into the market. This involves doing plenty of market and competitor research. As the transport industry is so big, there are various areas your business can specialise in – such as certain types of people transport (regular taxis, tourism, film shoots, etc), or different types of logistics transport. Establishing where your business will focus and what area you will specialize in is key. This is necessary for obtaining the right type of vehicle and the right licenses and permits.

Fund Your Transport Fleet

An important part of operating a transport business is purchasing and maintaining your vehicles. This could be a single vehicle or a whole fleet of taxis. Transport businesses will need to find enough funding to purchase the right kind of vehicle in order to start. It’s also important to consider the ongoing costs of vehicle maintenance and insurance when investing in your fleet. This is the stage that stops many people from starting a transport business, as the cost of purchasing the right vehicles can act as a barrier to entry.

Basic Requirements for a Transport Business

As with starting any type of business in South Africa, there are a couple of basic requirements your transport business will need to meet. These include the following registrations and certificates.

Company Registration

First, you will need to register your transporter business which will allow you to formally trade as a registered company. This needs to be done with the CIPC.

Tax Clearance Certificate

Your tax clearance certificate shows that your company is in good standing with SARS and that all of your tax obligations are taken care of. These documents are used by departments or contractors who might work with your transport business.


Your COID letter of good standing is necessary for protecting your employees. Any transport business that has at least one employee will need to register for COID at the Department of Labour.

Other Transport Business Requirements

You have various options when it comes to starting a transport business in South Africa. You could start a logistics business, a taxi service, or even offer transport for waste management. Whatever the case, each type of business will need a unique business plan, as well as the relevant licenses. Let’s break down some of the legal requirements for different transport businesses.

Public Operating License

Any driver who transports people professionally will need to hold a public operating license. This is necessary for those working in the taxi industry. These licenses can be applied for at your local municipality or through the National Public Transport Regulator.

NPTR Operating License

Any driver who transports goods professionally will need to hold an NPTR operating license. This is necessary for anyone working in the logistics industry. NPTR operating licenses can be applied for through the National Public Transport Regulator.

Central Supplier Database

Logistics companies that transport goods for large suppliers or the government will also need to be registered on the Central Supplier Database.

Waste License

If you run a transport business that handles or manages waste, then you will need to hold a waste license. These licenses can be applied for through the Department of Environmental Management.

Operating a transport business in South Africa can be a great way to make money. There are endless opportunities within the transport sector, and there are various areas that transport businesses can focus on. However, this also means some unique considerations transport industry professionals need to make. Make sure your transport business is set up with the right licenses and permits, and that it has a clear business plan. This is necessary for operating legally and profitably.


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