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Tow truck licence holder

The main purpose of licensing/certifying tow truck licence holders is to regulate and control the activity of tow trucks and their operation when towing damaged vehicles from the scene of incidents and subsequent handling and storage of those vehicles, within regulated areas in accordance with the Tow Truck Act 1973 and the Tow Truck Regulation 2009.

How do I become a tow truck licence holder?

To become a tow truck licence holder you must:

If the application is in a company/business name, proof of the company/business must be provided by submitting with the application:

  • a copy of the Business Name Extract, or
  • a Business Certificate of Registration of the company, with:
  • the name/s and personal details of the persons behind the business/company name.

Note: From 1 July 2014, those involved in the regulated towing industry—that is, Tow Truck Licence holders, Tow Truck Drivers and Tow Truck Assistants, cannot be a member or associate of a criminal organisation. When lodging a new application or renewing an existing accreditation/licence, a criminal organisation check will be undertaken with the Queensland Police Service (QPS), to establish if the applicant is a member or associate of a criminal organisation.

The outcome of the criminal organisation check will influence the decision about the application lodged. Ongoing criminal organisation checks will also be conducted during the term of the accreditation/licence.

For more information about the criminal organisation check see the Tow Truck Licence Holders, Tow Truck Drivers and Tow Truck Assistants fact sheet.

To find out the process to disassociate from a criminal organisation go to www.police.qld.gov.au.

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How long does a Tow Truck Licence last?

A Tow Truck Licence is issued for a period of 12 months.

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What is the cost involved to become a tow truck licence holder?

Application fees for a Tow Truck Licence must be paid when the application is lodged.

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Approved premises, holding yards and tow trucks

The business premises, holding yard/s and tow truck/s must be inspected by a departmental Transport Inspector before an application can be processed. The holding yard must be located in Queensland and each tow truck must be licensed and registered in Queensland.

At the time of inspection:

  • proof of ownership or lease agreement of business premises
  • proof of holding yards
  • proof of town planning approval from the Local Authority

must be provided. (see Schedule 5 of the Tow Truck Regulation 2009 about conforming premises).

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Class 4 tow truck - holding yard exemption

Class 4 tow truck operators may apply for an exemption from having a holding yard. For this type of specialised operation, the damaged vehicle being towed (e.g. trucks, large buses and combination vehicles) is mainly towed to the premises of the vehicle owner or a specialised repairer.

An exemption can only be granted to a class 4 tow truck licence holder. If a class 4 tow truck licence holder subsequently acquires any other class of licensed tow truck (other than class 4) then the exemption is void.

An application for exemption must be made in writing to the Manager (Compliance) or Regional Director at your nearest Department of Transport and Main Roads customer service centre, outlining the reasons why an exemption is being requested.

If the application is approved, the original approval letter or a copy of the approval letter must be carried in the tow truck and be produced if requested by an authorised officer. An application for renewal of the exemption must be made annually with the renewal notice of the tow truck licence.

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Conditions of use of a Tow Truck Licence

  • A tow truck licence holder must keep the licence in safe custody at the place of business stated in the licence.
  • A tow truck licence holder must give the Department of Transport and Main Roads written notice within 14 days of a change of the holder's name, residential or business address and give approval to the department to note the change.
  • A tow truck licence holder must give the Department of Transport and Main Roads written notice if they are charged or convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code. The notice must be provided within 14 days of when the charge or conviction occurs.

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Tow truck licence holder obligations

A tow truck licence holder must (unless an exemption is granted):

  • offer towing services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • conduct the business from premises owned or leased only by the licence holder
  • conduct the business from premises that conform with the requirements of the local government for the local government area in which the premises are situated
  • supply communication equipment suitable for the deployment of mobile units, at the business premises, and in tow trucks licensed under the Tow Truck Act 1973 and have a holding yard as a place of safe storage.

A tow truck licence holder must not:

  • advertise or promote the business of anyone other than the holder of the licence
  • seek business for anyone other than the holder of the licence
  • display on the tow truck, any advertising or markings other than the business name, place of business or telephone number of the approval holder; [an exception is the display of an approved organisation's name if the licence holder is the agent of an approved organisation, such as the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Ltd (RACQ)].

The responsibilities of a tow truck licence holder are set out in the Tow Truck Act 1973 and the Tow Truck Regulation 2009.

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Towing Authority Book and conditions of use

A tow truck licence holder must have a Towing Authority Book for each tow truck listed on the licence. These books authorise the driver of the tow truck to tow a vehicle that has been damaged as a result of an incident or is a seized vehicle. Once the entire book is completed it should be kept in a safe place at the registered place of business.

Towing Authority Books are only issued to Tow Truck Licence holders or an authorised company representative.

Towing Authority Books are available from Department of Transport and Main Roads customer service centres and most Queensland Government Agency Program Offices (excluding post offices or police stations).

The Towing Authority book should be:

  • kept in the designated vehicle at all times and must be used consecutively in serial number order
  • completed at the incident site and signed by the authorising person of the damaged vehicle (that is, the vehicle operator/agent or authorised person such as a police officer) and the original retained by the damaged vehicle's operator or the operator’s agent.

If the operator or the operator's agent is unable to sign, the form should be signed by an authorised officer (e.g. police officer) and forwarded to the vehicle's operator or the operator's agent within 7 days of towing.

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Tow truck vehicle linked to Tow Truck Licence

A Tow Truck Licence is issued with respect to specific tow trucks. The tow truck licence holder pays a tow truck licence fee (per vehicle) that is linked to the licence.

A tow truck within the definition of the Tow Truck Act 1973 is a motor vehicle that is equipped with a lifting or loading device capable of being used for the towing of a motor vehicle or used at the material time for the towing of a trailer on which a damaged or seized motor vehicle is being carried (i.e. seized vehicle is a motor vehicle seized by police under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000).

A licensed tow truck must be maintained as required under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2010.

A licensed tow truck must have markings on both sides of the tow truck that display the:

  • name, business address and telephone number of the licence or towing permit holder
  • classification of the tow truck
  • licence or permit number of the tow truck
  • Tow Truck Number.

For further information on tow truck specifications, requirements and markings to be placed on a tow truck see Schedule 1 of the Tow Truck Regulation 2009.

A licensed tow truck may be used for non incident-related towing, such as attending to breakdowns and general transporting of motor vehicles. 

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Tow Truck Number

A 4 digit Tow Truck Number is required to be displayed on both sides of the tow truck that is listed on the Tow Truck Licence. If a tow truck is sold the numbers are to be removed from the vehicle. The number is not to be used on any other tow truck.

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Towing an unregistered vehicle

A tow truck is permitted to tow an unregistered vehicle under section 4 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2010. There is no need to obtain an unregistered vehicle permit. If a tow truck is to tow an unregistered vehicle, the tow truck's rear number plate should be removed and attached to the rear of the unregistered vehicle. Alternatively, an accessory plate issued to the tow truck may be attached to the rear of the unregistered vehicle in accordance with Section 38 of the regulation.

The Tow Truck Act 1973, Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Standards and Safety) Regulation 2010, Tow Truck Regulation 2009, and the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 legislation can be found on the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website.

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Last updated
03 July 2014