In order to purchase a car in South Africa, one must apply for a Traffic Register Number. Today, at last, I was able to acquire mine! “But hold on,” you say, “didn’t you already buy a car?” That’s right, I bought a car the week of Christmas. I have been driving around with temporary tags. They expire on January 10th. I applied for the TRN on December 9th, but I had received no update for how matters had proceeded (the application triggers a background search, so it’s not a sure-fire outcome).
My day started with a call from Cathrine at the Honda dealership. She explained that we really couldn’t wait anymore for the TRN to show up and that they’d need a couple days after I had my TRN number to file for and receive the registration plates. I had placed a call to the Bellville Traffic Department, but I had gotten a busy signal (normally I hear several rings and then the call fails). She recommended a number for services city-wide, and I spoke to a courteous gentleman there. He admitted he could find no record of my application for the TRN. There was no other option: I needed to visit the Traffic Department in person.
I drove over there. As is common in South Africa, the parking lot had several parking attendants to wave in the direction of available spaces. I entered the building and joined the line of fifteen people at the Inquiries window (the same one where I had applied for the TRN on December 9th). After about forty minutes, I was waved up to the window, where the clerk was the same person I had worked with during my prior visit! Our discussion was a little hard to follow, since a gentleman at the next window was slowly raising his voice to a yell in Afrikaans about a parking ticket for his motorbike that was more expensive than the vehicle (which apparently would no longer start). My clerk indicated that he had good news, but I needed to stand aside for a few minutes until the other clerk was free.
Once the gentleman had issued his final proclamations (I gather they were obscene, by the response of the security officer), I moved to the other window. The clerk handed me my TRN. I explained that I now had proof of my permanent address, and she advised me to take it up with the Durbanville office since I was moving closer to them. I took the TRN in hand and drove to the Honda dealership. Cathrine and I looked over the application for the registration plates, and after I botched one she just pointed to where I needed to sign. This afternoon, we realized that I also needed to file a change of address form with the Traffic Department since my TRN was for my temporary address rather than my permanent one.
In two days, I should have my permanent registration plates. With those in hand, I can file for parking privileges on campus (much less expensive than at American medical schools). Getting my car sorted out is nearly complete!