Tour operation permit in South Africa

A tour operator is any person who owns a business which transports paying tourists on scheduled itineraries and makes arrangements for their clients in terms of accommodation, transport and excursions. These businesses often own vehicles to transport tourists and the owners of these enterprises often accompany tour parties.

There are three categories of tour operators:

•   In-bound tour operators: provide services mainly for foreign visitors to South Africa;

•   Out-bound tour operators: provide services to clients in South Africa wishing to travel to destinations outside the country;

•   Local tour operators: provide services to domestic clients for tours within South Africa.


A restaurant or other eating house is a business that concentrates on selling meals and may or may not be licensed to sell liquor for consumption on the premises. A tavern, on the other hand, is primarily licensed to sell liquor for consumption on the premises and it may or may not also serve meals.

•  Land Use Zoning – Approach the Local Municipality to establish whether the Town Planning Scheme permits the activity on the site               you have chosen;

•  Licensing and Registration – Approach the Local Municipality in order to register your business. You will also need to register with               the District Municipality;

•  A tour operator may not drive his/her own vehicle (acting as a courier with paying guests) without being registered as

a tourist guide;

•   In order to operate as a tourist guide, application must be made to TKZN to register;

•  Road Transportation Permit (TV3/1 Form);

•  Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operation in which they are both tour guide and tour


You must make note of the following legal requirements:

•  Every vehicle that is to carry passengers for reward (i.e.: paying passengers) must have its own road transportation permit;

•  Application should be made to the Local Transportation Board for the permit. You can prepare your application

   yourself. It is very important to be quite clear on the fact that you will be transporting tourists and to mark clearly

   the routes that will be used. If you do not wish to prepare your own application, you may use the services of a road transport specialist          lawyer. Obviously there are usual lawyer rates involved. The Southern African Tourism Services

   Association (SATSA) does not provide assistance in this process;

•  The contact number in the province of KwaZulu-Natal for the Local Road Transportation Board office from which

    application forms may be obtained is, Pietermaritzburg: (033) 341 9500. The cost of an application is R115,00;

•  Once completed, the forms must be submitted together with R115,00 and a letter of approval from the local Town

    Planning Department to the Road Transportation Board and the proposed travel routes are gazetted, together with details of the a                 application. After the application has been gazetted and the period for objections has elapsed, the

    applicant will be called to a sitting of the Board, where the application and any objections will be heard. The Board will subsequently             make its decision, which will be communicated to the applicant or his/her representative. At the hearing, the applicant may attend in             person or may appoint a representative. Note that this procedure could take 3-6 months;

•  Public Driving Permit – To drive paying passengers (tourists) on public roads, you are required by law, to have a public driving permit.        You must hold a valid driving licence for the particular vehicle that you intend to drive (e.g.: code 08 for cars and the like;

•  Your application for the permit is subject to a medical examination and a check for any criminal convictions

   through police records;

•  This permit is issued at a cost of R145,00 and may be obtained from the Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate

   (Pinetown: (031) 700 1520, Pietermaritzburg: (033) 392 8100, or your nearest Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate office);

•  Regulations and By-Laws – Your application for a trading licence will be circulated by the Local Council to the health,

   fire and building inspectors, the Town Planning Department, and in some cases the Development Services Board

   (DSB). These bodies will ensure that your plans comply with their regulations before the application can be approved,

•  Other Legal Requirements – If you wish to erect a road sign in the road reserve area (as distinct from on your

   own property), advertising your business, then you need approval from:

•  Department of Transport in the case of national roads;

•  The Facility Signs Committee in the Provincial Department of Transport in the case of secondary roads;

•  The Local Municipal Engineer in the case of local roads within a Local Municipality area.

•  Policy – TKZN should be consulted for updates on policy.


•  Business Advice Centres:

Durban: (031) 308 9920

Pietermaritzburg: (033) 264 3100

•  Business Partners Limited:

Durban: (031) 240 7700

Richards Bay: (035) 789 7301

•  Department of Economic Development

and Tourism (DEDT): (033) 264 2500

•  Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs

and Rural Development (DAERD): (033) 355 9690

•  Department of Trade and Industry (dti):

(012) 394 9500

KZN Regional Office

(031) 305 3389

•  Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

(031) 335 1000

•  Ithala Development Finance Corporation:

(031) 907 8911

•  Trade Associations

AFRITOUR: (021) 782 6979

Durban: (031) 266 7130

•  Provincial Planning and Development Commission:

(033) 395 3066

•  South African Tourism (SA Tourism):

(011) 895 3000

•  Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA):

086 127 2872/(011) 866 9996

•  Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN):

(031) 366 7500

•  Provincial Transportation Board

(033) 341 9500