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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, when towing police seized vehicles and from 16 April 2018 when towing vehicles from private property parking areas. The scheme also covers regulated towing charges and the handling and storage of towed 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 Certificate of Incorporation for the company/Business Name Extract;
  • and the name/s and personal details of the persons behind the business/company name (the legal entity name). 

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How long does a Tow Truck Licence last?

A Tow Truck Licence is issued for a period as stated on the tow truck licence.

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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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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 
  • have a holding yard approved by departmental Transport Inspectors for the safe keeping of towed vehicles
  • ensure local government approval is obtained for the area where the holding yard is 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.

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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 you must provide:

  • proof of ownership or lease agreement for each holding yard
  • proof of local government approval to operate the business premises and each holding yard.

    A holding yard must be enclosed by a fence or wall that:
  • is structurally sound; and
  • is at least 2.1m in height from the ground; and
  • has lockable gates or doors that are closed and securely locked other than when a motor vehicle is being moved into or out of the area.

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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 with the renewal notice of the tow truck licence.

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Prior to towing a vehicle from private property, licence holders must enter into a written contract with a property owner or occupier authorising the removal of vehicles parked on their property. Once a written contract is in place a Towing consent form must also be completed. This form is proof that the contract exists.

Vehicles cannot be removed if they are observed breaching parking conditions unless there is a contract and Towing consent in place.

Reasonable steps must be taken to locate the vehicle owner or driver before loading a vehicle onto the tow truck. Reasonable steps includes, for example, asking other people (at the carpark or nearby shops) if they know where the driver went; looking around the immediate area to see if the vehicle owner is nearby or approaching the carpark; looking for contact or business name details on the vehicle. If the owner returns and your driver is in the process of loading and securing the vehicle on the tow truck, the vehicle must be released immediately without charge. If the owner returns after the vehicle has been loaded onto the tow truck (including secured in every way necessary) but the driver has not yet left the property, they must release the vehicle immediately if the owner pays the on-site release fee. 

Ensure that only the maximum regulated fees are charged and make sure that prohibited fees are not charged.

  • see Maximum regulated towing charges. It is recommended that tow truck drivers have appropriate on-the-spot payment mechanisms available for motorists to pay the on-site release fee (credit card or EFTPOS facilities).

Licence holders must notify the Queensland Police Service (QPS) a vehicle has been towed as soon as practicable but no later than 1 hour after a vehicle removed from private property is stored in the holding yard. To notify, licence holders must use the QPS electronic Tow Notification

Submit your towing notification form

You can submit your towing notification online

Or you can download the Policelink app for free from the App Store and Google Play and submit through the app.

A tow truck licence holder must keep an inventory of all vehicles towed. An entry must be made in the inventory as soon as possible after a vehicle arrives in the holding yard.  A tow truck licence holder must also keep an inventory of property found in a vehicle and keep the property in safe custody until it can be returned to the vehicle owner or driver. These inventories must be kept at the business address stated in the licence for 1 year.

Towing Authority Book – crash and police seizure towing

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 fee for a towing authority book is $10.05.

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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Conditions 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 and show it to an authorised officer on request.
  • A tow truck licence holder must show the Towing Consent to a vehicle owner or driver or to an authorised officer on request.
  • A tow truck licence holder must take reasonable steps to prevent loss from or damage to a vehicle held in the holding yard.
  • A licence holder must not move a towed vehicle from the holding yard without consent of the vehicle owner or agent. Provision is made for this vehicle owner consent on the Towed vehicle and found property register template.
  • You must not disclose to another person any personal information about the owner of a vehicle that you gained through towing of the vehicle unless it is to be disclosed to the vehicle owner, their agent or to an authorised officer.
  • 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.

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.

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

Auditing of tow truck licence holders

Tow truck licence holders are audited to ensure they are complying with the Tow Truck Act 1973 and Tow Truck Regulation 2009.  

Auditing is conducted by TMR Transport Inspectors.  When a new tow truck licence is approved, the licence holder can expect to be audited approximately 6 months later to ensure records are being maintained and that records are being stored in safe custody, so that they are free from fire, flood, theft and vermin.  However, if other anomalies are identified at this time a full audit may be conducted.

At regular intervals, audits will be conducted to ensure that all requirements of the Tow Truck Act 1973 and Tow Truck Regulation 2009 are being complied with. These audits will include an audit of the licence holder’s business premises (including that records being maintained), holding yard/s and tow trucks. Audits will also be conducted, if considered appropriate, following a complaint being received. 

If a tow truck licence holder is found to be non-compliant with the requirements they will be issued a Corrective Action Request.  The licence holder will generally have 14 days to rectify the non-compliance however, if the non-compliance is considered to be serious and likely to jeopardise public safety, TMR may immediately suspend the tow truck licence and issue an infringement notice.

If no issues are identified during an audit, the licence holder will be sent confirmation that they have passed the audit. 

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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
19 March 2020