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Tow trucks 

On 1 July 2017, responsibility for the administration of the Tow Truck Industry Act 1998 (the Act) was transferred from Roads and Maritime Services to Fair Trading.

Industry requirements 

In the tow truck industry there is a difference between the functions of a tow truck driver and that of an operator and each have specific requirements under the law.

  • To drive a tow truck with tow truck plates you need a tow truck driver certificate
  • To operate a towing business, you need a tow truck operator licence
  • A driver licence is a general licence that any person needs to drive a vehicle in NSW.

If you use a tow truck to tow a motor vehicle as part of a business, you are required to hold a tow truck operator licence.

A tow truck driver certificate is issued on the basis that the driver is fit and proper and holds an unrestricted driver licence. If the driver licence ceases to be in force for any reason, the driver certificate is automatically revoked.

Fair Trading regularly conducts compliance operations in conjunction with Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Police. If breaches of the Act are detected, penalty notices may be issued with maximum penalties ranging up to $11,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.

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Applying for a driver certificate or operator licence 

Visit the Driver certificate and Operator licence pages for information about how to apply for each type of authorisation.

If you carry vehicles solely for the purpose of transporting them to a metal recycling facility, you can apply for a Scrap Metal Exemption Authority (conditions apply).

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Licence conditions 

As a tow truck operator, you must comply with certain standards in relation to the keeping of records, the use of approved premises as a holding yard and place of business, the use of registered tow trucks and other matters.

Fair Trading may apply further conditions to your operator licence or driver certificate if it sees fit.

Licensees who carry out towing from crash scenes are also required to comply with maximum charges for towing, storage and salvage, and other related services.

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Tow truck fees 

For details of fees and charges related to tow truck licensing, including applications for driver certificates, operator licenses, mutual recognition and scrap metal exemption authorities, visit our Tow truck fees page.

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Tow truck forms and policies 

All tow truck forms and policies are available on the Tow truck forms and policies page.

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IPART report into tow trucks 

As Fair Trading is now the regulator of the tow truck industry in NSW, the remaining IPART recommendations will be reviewed and implemented, where it is still possible to do so. This will include a statutory review of the Tow Truck Industry Act 1998 and the Tow Truck Industry Regulation 2008.

Further consultation will be undertaken and industry will be advised of opportunities to have their say.

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Compliance and enforcement 

As the regulator of the tow truck industry in NSW, Fair Trading undertakes compliance and enforcement activities in the sector as part of its oversight function and to ensure compliance with the legislation. The requirements in the Act and Regulation regarding licensing of operators and certification of tow truck drivers play an important role in ensuring minimum standards of professionalism and behaviour in the industry, while also protecting consumers often at a time of vulnerability and stress.

Fair Trading employs an intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to compliance and enforcement as part of its overall commitment to delivering improved and more efficient government services. This ensures the agency's resources are directed to areas where they can best address non-compliant conduct or where they can deliver the greatest overall benefit for consumers and compliant businesses.

Download the Statement of Compliance Approach (PDF size: 171kb) to read more about Fair Trading’s risk-based compliance and enforcement approach.

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Defined Sydney Metropolitan Region 

The defined metropolitan region for the purposes of calculating licensing and towing fees and charges is consistent with predefined Local Government Areas.

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More information  

If you have any questions about tow truck licensing, or if you need help in understanding any of the requirements, call Fair Trading on 1300 131 134.

More information is available on the following webpages:


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