If you operate a tow truck, you must hold a tow truck operator licence issued by Fair Trading.
Criteria for granting a licence
When applying for an operator licence, you must show that you:
- are suitable to be the operator of a tow truck
- have sufficient responsibility to operate a tow truck in accordance with the law.
You must also prove that:
- your business is incorporated and registered
- your business premises and holding yard have the appropriate council approval for the type of licence you are applying for
- the vehicles used in the business are registered
- all premises and vehicles are covered by appropriate insurance
- all persons connected to the business are fit and proper.
Fair Trading examines all applications to decide whether a person is suitable to hold a licence. As part of this process, we check to see whether you have an adverse criminal history. Your application will not be accepted if you do not give permission to obtain this information.
Business and holding yard premises
To operate a tow truck business, your primary business premises and holding yard(s) must be approved by your local council. Your application will need to show that you have council approval for your business premises (including a home business), as well as council approval for your holding yard(s) to store accident damaged vehicles. You will also need to provide proof of ownership for your holding yard(s).
Vehicles and insurance
Any vehicles operated under your licence, business and holding yard premises must have adequate insurance cover. You will be required to show proof of this whenever you apply/renew a tow truck licence.
Applying for a tow truck operator licence
When you apply for a licence to operate a tow truck, you must answer all questions and provide all documentation relevant to the application. You must also provide details in your application of any person who has an interest in your business, and any other name they may have used in the past
If you are found to have made false or misleading statements or falsified any documentation, your application may be refused. More information on this can be found on the application form.
As the applicant, you are responsible for providing relevant information that proves you comply with the criteria for licensing. If you are unable to provide this information, your application may be refused.
You can download an application for a tow truck operator licence on the Tow truck forms and policies page.
Vehicle towing charges
For more information on what you can charge, please see the vehicle towing page.
Refusal, variation, suspension or cancellation
If Fair Trading refuses your application for an operator licence, or if we cancel, suspend or vary the licence, or impose a condition on it, we must advise you of the reasons. We will also let you know of any rights you may have to appeal against a decision.
You may apply for a review if you disagree with the decision made. If you still disagree with the decision following the review, you may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 28 days of being notified.
Visit the Operator licence refusal provisions page for more information.
Three-year operator licence
Three-year terms for operator licences were introduced to reduce administrative costs for businesses and individuals. There are strict eligibility criteria set out in the Act that you must meet.
You may be eligible for a 3-year operator licence if:
- you have requested that the licence be granted for a period of 3 years and you meet the eligible criteria
- you have held a licence for a continuous period of at least 3 years (during that period, the licence was not suspended, revoked or did not lapse).
- Fair Trading is satisfied that a 3-year licence should be granted.
If you are eligible for a 3-year licence, it will be indicated on the renewal/application form that is provided prior to your operator licence expiring.
If you are still not sure whether you are eligible, call the Licensing team on 1300 131 134 and select option 1, prior to submitting your application.
What happens if I am subject to any disciplinary action after I am granted a three-year licence?
If your 3-year operator licence is suspended, when the suspension ends, the period of the licence will be reduced so that it will cease to be in force on the next anniversary of its issue (and may be refunded accordingly). You will also be ineligible to apply for a 3-year licence on your next application.