Microdot technology is one of the latest anti-theft devices for vehicles. They’re designed to make it extremely difficult for car thieves to conceal a vehicle’s true identity and owner.

Not many South African motorists may be aware of this, but government laws from 1 September 2012 state that all new motor vehicles registered in the country must carry microdot identification. This also applies to used cars and re-registered cars that change hands. Any vehicle requiring SAPS police clearance also requires microdotting.

Examples of Microdots   

Original Equipment Manufacturer Microdot
In the case of an OEM Microdot, these lines of text contain the vehicle’s 17 digit unique V.I.N. (vehicle identification number)


Aftermarket Microdot
In the case of an aftermarket microdot, uniquely assigned 17 digit PIN number.

IdDots Nicol Plated Microdot

In the case of the idDots Nicol plated microdot; the unique PIN numbers are 12 digits long.

What are microdots?

Microdots are transparent polyester or nicol plated discs of between 0.5 and 1.8 millimetres in diameter. The discs are marked with lines of text by a sophisticated laser etching process.

How are microdots detected?

Microdots are suspended in a solvent or polyurethane based adhesive which contains an ultra violet element.

Microdots are detected by exposing areas of the asset to Ultra-violet lighting which will illuminate “contaminated” locations, allowing authorities to remove a microdot and view the information it contains.

The number of microdots applied and the unique information reflected on them it becomes virtually impossible to completely rid a stolen vehicle, motor cycle or trailer or its tradable components of its original identity.

The tools used would include an ultra violet touch, magnifying scope and visual inspection to reveal the PIN number.

When a microdot is found by the SAPS, other law enforcement agency, insurers or motor industry employees it gives them a starting point in the audit trail, normal SAPS investigation still needs to be done.

How microdots are fitted:

Fitment of microdots must comply with the SANS 534/1 Standard.

Vehicles: 10 000 Microdots are applied to specified locations.

Motor Cycles: 3000 Microdots are applied to specified locations.

Trailers: 5000 Microdots are applied to specified locations.

Microdot fitment involves spraying thousands of these miniscule dots over a vehicle, on different specification surface areas including the engine and the undercarriage. (None of the dots are affixed to the outside paintwork.) Because they are so tiny, it’s impossible for thieves to locate and remove them all.

This means that no matter how well a stolen vehicle’s appearance is changed or disguised, its true identity can be established via the microdots. Microdot technology also helps with recovering stolen car parts, as they make it possible for previously untraceable parts to be linked to a particular vehicle.

Why are Microdots Important?

Each fitment specification has been designed to contaminate tradable parts and components of vehicles to ensure that investigative authorities are able to detect microdots and identify the vehicle or components.

One of the first things a professional thief will do is remove or change the number plates of a stolen vehicle. In the past, there were two ways to identify a vehicle without its number plates; namely the stamped vehicle identification number (VIN), and the engine number.

It was relatively easy for criminals to modify or clone these numbers, and re-sell stolen vehicles. But imagine needing to modify around 10,000 microscopic identifiers located all over a vehicle – it’s almost impossible! Microdot technology aims to be a deterrent to thieves, and is also essential for recovering your vehicle if a theft takes place.

Is Your Car Microdotted?

Currently, no other country in the world requires microdots by law. However, car theft in South Africa is a common concern for motorists, businesses, insurance providers and law enforcement. If you’re looking to purchase a new car, it’s important to be aware of the government mandated usage of microdots.

A number of vehicle manufacturers now use microdots to enhance the security of their vehicles, but you can also have them added later, with a microdot fitment service. Protect your assets with cutting-edge microdot technology, and enjoy greater peace of mind on the roads.