Apply for a Tow Truck Permit

Tow trucks must have a permit issued by TDLR to be used for towing on public streets. A separate permit is required for each tow truck.

Types of Tow Truck Permits

Each tow truck is required to have a permit in one of the following areas:

  • Incident Management Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a non-consent tow initiated by a peace officer, or to perform a tow from a traffic incident or accident. Incident Management tow trucks may also perform Private Property and Consent Tows.

    Incident management towing includes any tow of a vehicle that has become disabled on or near a public road in which towing operations may affect normal traffic flow. Any tow from a public roadway for any reason is an incident management tow.
  • Private Property Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a non-consent tow authorized by a parking facility owner. Private Property tow trucks may also do Consent Tows.

    Examples may include towing in an apartment building parking lot, restaurant, or paid parking lot without the consent of the owner or operator of the vehicle.
  • Consent Tow Permit - Required for a tow truck used to perform a consent tow authorized by the owner of the vehicle. This type of permit may only do Consent Tows.

    Consent towing includes any tow of a motor vehicle in which the tow truck is summoned by the owner or operator of the vehicle, or by a person who has possession, custody, or control of the vehicle.

Before You Apply

Proof of Insurance

You must have an insurance policy for your tow truck from an insurance company licensed and authorized to do business in Texas. All certificates of insurance must contain a provision stating that the insurer will notify TDLR 30 days before the cancellation of an insurance policy.

The name and address on the certificate of insurance must exactly match the name and address on your application form. It is your responsibility to notify TDLR if your name or address changes and to provide updated proof of insurance.

Minimum Coverage Requirements

Permit Type Liability Insurance Cargo or Cargo on Hook Insurance
Incident Management Towing $500,000 $50,000
Private Property Towing $300,000 $50,000
Consent Towing $300,000 Not Required

All minimum amounts specified are per truck per incident. Insurance policies must be kept current at all times. For further information, please see section 86.400 of the administrative rules.

Truck Requirements

All tow trucks must be equipped for light-duty or heavy-duty vehicle towing, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.


Tow trucks must have the following information conspicuously and permanently displayed on the truck with lettering of at least 2” in height and in a contrasting color:

  • Name of the permit holder
  • Telephone number of the permit holder
  • City and state where the permit holder is located
  • Permit number for the tow truck


The capacity of the truck equipment is of special concern. Each truck must have documentation from the equipment manufacturer stating the capacity of the boom, the winch, and the carry mechanism (if applicable). This documentation may either be in the form of a manufacturer’s data plate on the equipment, or as a document from the manufacturer kept inside the truck.

Trucks may not have a winch installed that exceeds the capacity of the boom.

All equipment must be in good working condition and be free of defects. All hydraulic lines must be free of leaks. The winch may not leak oil. Cables must be within the specified manufacturer’s guidelines.

License Plates

Tow trucks must display current license plates that include the words “Tow Truck” if they are operated on Texas public roadways.

Application and Fee

When you are ready to apply, please contact our Customer Service division at (800) 803-9202 to request a new account be created in the TOOLS online registration system.

A member of the Licensing Team will contact you to set up your application over the phone, and provide you with a certificate and PIN number. This certificate and PIN number will allow you to complete the application online at your convenience.

The non-refundable application fee is $75 per truck.

Tow truck permits are valid for up to one year from the date of issue. When a tow company’s license expires, all tow truck permits held by that company will also expire the same day, regardless of when they were issued.

Insurance Information

After you have submitted the application and paid the fees, you will need to contact your insurance company and provide them with your certificate number. The insurance company will then send your policy information electronically to TDLR.

You will be able to print cab cards and/or your company license once your insurance is active in our system.

Applicants with Criminal Convictions

As part of the application process, all controlling persons of your company must successfully pass a criminal background check conducted by TDLR.

If you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (other than a minor traffic violation) or pleaded guilty or no contest (resulting in a deferred adjudication) to any in-state, out-of-state or federal criminal offense, you must provide a completed Criminal History Questionnaire (PDF) along with your application materials.

The department will conduct a criminal history background check on all persons who apply for a license. Criminal convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Licenses may be denied based on the nature of the conviction and how long prior to the application the conviction occurred. Depending on your criminal history, a review can take from one to six weeks to complete.

Individuals may request TDLR review their criminal background before actually applying for a license. TDLR uses the same process for this pre-application evaluation as the process described below. See the Criminal History Evaluation Letter page for more information.

Please see the Guidelines for License Applicants with Criminal Convictions, which describe the process that TDLR uses to determine whether a criminal conviction renders an applicant an unsuitable candidate for the license, or whether a conviction warrants revocation or suspension of a license previously granted.