CAO online application process, dates, and requirements for 2022/2023

CAO online application process, dates, and requirements for 2022/2023

The CAO online application platform provides all learners a central and fair arena for securing admission to a certificate, diploma, or undergraduate course. The Central Applications Office (CAO) is mandated to process student admissions for higher education programmes. There are specific requirements that must be met for successful admissions.

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CAO online application
The primary mission of the Central Applications Office is to centrally process applications in a fair and efficient manner. Photo: @CAO (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Are you interested in pursuing a certificate, diploma, or undergraduate programme after high school? If so, you must learn more about the CAO online application process. CAO processes applications fairly and efficiently for all applicants. If you meet the criteria, you can secure a position in one of the universities and colleges.

The CAO online application process

How can you secure placement in an institution of higher learning in South Africa? Read on to learn more about how to complete the CAO online application 2022 process. The available levels of study are listed below.

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  • Shorter course study
  • NC(V) study
  • Certificate
  • Nated Certificate & Diploma study
  • Diploma study
  • Degree study
  • B Tech/M Tech study (For people with a diploma or a degree)

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CAO online application 2022 in South Africa (CAO 2023 applications)

How do I apply to CAO? To submit your online application, you must have an internet-enabled device. You should identify and choose the relevant courses based on your educational background beforehand. The steps below guide you on how to do this.

  1. On your browser, visit the official CAO website, online application 2023.
  2. Select the Apply icon on the dashboard.
  3. Read the information that pops up and click Continue with Application.
  4. Proceed to key in your ID number or passport number and click Submit.
  5. Scroll down on the page that pops up. At the bottom, click Continue with Application.
  6. Proceed to enter the required details. Ensure you provide an active and valid email address. Moreover, ascertain the information you provide is accurate before clicking Next.
  7. Next, click Continue with Online Application.
  8. A window will pop up with your CAO number, password, and EasyPay number. Read all the instructions and note the numbers given as you will need them to access your account. Then, click Continue with Online Application.
  9. Follow the instructions that will pop up and enter ALL the information required. Click Next.
  10. Enter the Next of Kin details, then click Next.
  11. Enter details of the institution you attended, then click Search. The school name will appear in a box. Next, enter the year you joined and graduated from the school, then click Next.
  12. Click Process My Application. A message showing your details have been submitted successfully will pop up.
  13. Next, you can upload your supporting documents and pay the administration fee.

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Application using the CAO mobile app

Did you know you can complete the process via a mobile app? The app is compatible with android and iOS devices. Follow the steps below to use the app.

  1. On your phone, go to the App Store or Apple store app.
  2. Search for the Central Applications Office and install the app.
  3. Open the app and click Apply. Continue with the steps as the app prompts you. The steps are similar to those documented above (applying via the website).

NB: Kindly note that you will have to upload your supporting documents via the website.

How do I submit my CAO application?
Did you know you can complete the process via a mobile app? The app is compatible with android and iOS devices. Photo: @CAO (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Application using hardcopy forms

You can also submit your details via hardcopy forms. However, you should know that this is the least effective method. To do this, visit your principal's office or LO teacher and request the CAO Handbooks and Application Forms.

If your school does not have the forms, you can get them from the DBE offices or select libraries. If you do not get them, use the following contacts to get copies:

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  • Phone: 031 268 4444/ 086 086 0226
  • Email address:
  • Physical Address: Gate 11, Mary Thiphe Street, Cato Manor (Visit the office and request the forms)

Once you get the forms, fill in the necessary details and attach the supporting documents. Then, send them back to Private Bag X06, Dalbridge, 4014.

Alternatively, hand-deliver them to the CAO offices in Durban. The office hours are between 08:00 am and 16:30 on Monday to Friday.

Is CAO open for 2022 applications?

Applications for the 2022 intake opened on 1st April 2021. They are since closed. However, CAO 2023 application dates have since commenced.

Is CAO open for 2023 applications?

Yes, the website is open for CAO online applications for 2023. However, kindly note an administration fee of R250 per applicant will be levied on South African citizens. International citizens are required to pay R300. This administration fee is non-refundable.

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Entry term

There are two official entry terms, as listed below.

  • 1st-semester entry starts between January and February.
  • The 2nd-semester entry starts between July and August.


The duration of study depends on the programme you wish to pursue. Certificate courses, for example, have a shorter study duration than undergraduate programmes. Kindly note that part-time study will take you longer than full-time study.

Minimum points

The minimum points needed to pursue a course vary depending on the level and course specifications. Therefore, you should always review the requirements for various courses before submitting your details.

NB: The minimum points needed may differ depending on your writing examination.

CAO status check

To check the status of your application, visit the CAO website and log into your account. The information you need will be contained therein. It is also advisable to check your email often, as you may receive relevant updates from the organisation or institution through the email address provided.

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How to reapply

Reapplication is permitted for people who had made unsuccessful applications in previous years. You will be required to start the process all over again.

This means you should confirm your eligibility by reading through the requirements for various courses before submitting your request for admission. In addition, you will get a new account and registration number, so you should ignore the details used when making special applications.

How do I apply for CAO online 2022?
Reapplication is permitted for people who had made unsuccessful applications in previous years. You will be required to start the process all over again. Photo: @CAO (modified by author)
Source: Instagram

How to pay the CAO application fee online

Are you wondering how to pay the CAO online application fee? You can remit the non-refundable administration fee online using your credit card. To do this, follow the steps below.

  • Visit the CAO website.
  • Log into your account.
  • Click My Application, enter your CAO or ID number and follow the prompts.

Alternative payment methods

EasyPay is the best-preferred payment method. You can make the payment at Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Checkers, Woolworths or any store with the EasyPay sign.

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How do I apply for CAO online 2022?

Applications for 2022 are closed. However, you can apply for the 2023 intake via the official CAO website.

How do I upload to CAO online?

Are you wondering how to upload documents for the CAO online application process? You can do this by visiting the official website and logging into your account.

Once you are logged in, check the top navigation bar for the option to upload your documents. Then, attach the documents you wish.

Special requirements for international students

International students can also make CAO applications. The following rules apply to these students.

  • Students will require a study permit to travel to South Africa to study.
  • Students applying for distance learning do not need a study permit because they will pursue the programmes in their home countries.
  • Students applying for short-term study should apply directly to the institution. Those applying to UKZN only should also apply directly to the institution. However, they should submit a CAO application for 2023 for all other institutions of higher learning.
  • Students must meet the South African degree entry requirements. GCE students should have at least five passes, including two at A level, while HIGCSE/ IGCSE should have passed in at least five subjects, four of which must be at HIGCSE level.

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NB: Those wishing to join degree programmes must have passes in English and one other language. They must also have passed maths.

How do I edit my CAO application online?

If you change your mind about something, visit the website and log into your account. Look for the Change of Mind icon and follow the instructions given. A non-refundable Change of Mind (COM) fee may be required.

How do I cancel my CAO application online?

If you have changed your mind and are wondering how to cancel your CAO application online, use the Change of Mind (COM) option explored above.

The CAO online application process is pretty simple for South African citizens, residents, and international students. The website accepts requests for admissions to higher learning institutions in 2023, so hurry up and apply before the process comes to a close.

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