How to Get a Towing License

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You will need a towing license to operate a tow truck business.
You will need a towing license to operate a tow truck business. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Towing vehicles can be a lucrative business, as you can collect fees for the towing and for storing impounded vehicles; you can even reap fees from repair companies for taking vehicles to their business. The process for getting a tow truck license varies by city. Many cities limit the number of licenses so that there are not too many competing businesses. Many municipalities have some procedures in common, but you will want to check the particulars for the city where you wish to establish your towing business.

Things You'll Need

  • Start-up capital or bonds
  • Tow trucks
  • Copies of driving records
  • Photo ID

Check with your local municipality and ask for the procedures to obtain a license. Start with city government offices, or check online at the city government Internet page. Find out whether you also need to obtain a business license in addition to the towing license.

Obtain the paperwork that you will need. Depending on your locality, this can include a bond for a set amount of start-up capital — often in the neighborhood of $30,000 — a certified copy of your driving record, a commercial driver's license and a tow truck driver endorsement. You may also need to have business incorporation papers, proof of insurance and a copy of your business liability insurance.

Get a tow truck driver's license. Make sure that you have this license and that every driver employee in your business has one. This is a separate license from your towing business license.

Set up an appointment for your trucks to be inspected by a state or local authority. A certified law enforcement officer must do the inspection.

Visit the office where you obtain your towing business license. You may have to be fingerprinted and have your photo taken. Fill out the application form and present the necessary paperwork.

Pay the necessary fees. You may need to pay these fees annually.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may be able to buy a towing license from an existing business that is closing.
  • You may need different types of licenses for consent towing and non-consent towing. Consent towing is when a vehicle breaks down and the owner asks you to tow the car. Non-consent towing is when you tow a car that is illegally parked, or being impounded for another reason.
  • Make sure you have the necessary insurance for your business. It is also advisable to have a lawyer look over your incorporation and licensing papers.

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