Tow Trucks, Operators and Vehicle Storage Facilities

Military Service Members, Veterans, and Spouses - For more information about obtaining a TDLR license or renewing a TDLR license that expired while serving on active duty, please go to the Military Outreach home page.

The Towing, Storage and Booting Advisory Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, September 27 at 10:00 a.m. in the 1st Floor Public Meeting Room (125E) of TDLR's North Campus Building, located at 1106 Clayton Lane in Austin. When the agenda is available, it will be posted online. The meeting will be broadcast on TDLR's YouTube channel.

The Towing, Storage and Booting Advisory Board met January 14 in Austin. The meeting was archived and is available on TDLR's YouTube channel.

Executive Director Enacts Emergency Tow Provisions

Due to recent storms and flooding across Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster for the following counties effective June 1, 2016: Austin, Bandera, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Coleman, Colorado, Erath, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Kleberg, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Lubbock, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington and Wharton

In conjunction with the Governor's disaster declaration, TDLR’s Executive Director has enacted emergency tow provisions for the disaster area to help expedite the recovery and cleanup efforts. To help speed up the response to our fellow Texans in their time of need, online emergency tow licenses for use in the disaster area are now available at TDLR:

example of an 
Emergency Consent Tow Operator License

NEW - you can print a duplicate receipt of your license purchase, or print a copy of your emergency license. NOTE: if you received an Emergency Consent Tow Operator license after the April 18, 2016 disaster declaration, your expiration date is now automatically extended to September 1, 2016 in conjunction with the June 1 disaster declaration. The license can be used in the 31 counties listed above.

To be eligible, you must hold a valid driver’s license issued by a state in the United States, pass a background check, and pay the consent tow operator license fee of $100. An emergency consent tow operator must carry this license at all times when performing tow operations, and must allow TDLR and law enforcement personnel to inspect their tow truck at any time. Requirements for Emergency Consent Tow Operator License.

  • Emergency Consent Tow Truck Permit. Call 800-803-9202. To receive an emergency consent tow truck permit, your tow truck must be affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company. Requirements for Emergency Consent Tow Truck Permit.

    • If your tow truck is already affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company, the company can simply add your vehicle information to their account online using the online TOOLS system and print out the permit (also referred to as a “cab card”).  
    • If your tow truck is not affiliated with a TDLR-licensed tow company, you must apply for an emergency consent tow company license in order to receive the emergency consent tow truck permit.
  • Emergency Consent Tow Company License. Call 800-803-9202. TDLR’s licensing team will expedite your emergency consent tow company license application over the phone. You can also add your tow truck(s) during this process to get your emergency consent tow truck permit (cab card). Note: the tow company application process requires that your insurance company file your insurance information using TDLR’s online TOOLS system. Requirements for Emergency Consent Tow Company License.

For questions or help, please email or call TDLR at (800) 803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Emergency Consent Tow License FAQ’s

1. What is an emergency consent tow license?
Emergency consent tow licenses allow tow truck drivers and companies to receive a temporary license good for 90 days to perform consent tow operations during a declared state of disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, fire, etc.

2. What are the different types of emergency consent tow licenses?
There are 3 types of emergency consent tow licenses:

Please note: emergency licenses are only available through TDLR’s Online Licensing Services (operator license) and our online TOOLS system (permit and company). There are no paper applications for emergency consent tow licenses. For assistance with TOOLS, call (800) 803-9202.

3. Who decides if there is an emergency?
The Governor of Texas has the authority to declare a state of disaster. TDLR’s Executive Director then determines if emergency tow provisions are necessary in the disaster area.

4. If I get an emergency consent tow license, can I use it for consent tows anywhere in Texas during the emergency?
No. It is only good for the consent tow of a vehicle that is towed from a location inside the declared disaster area.

5. What is a consent tow?
A consent tow is 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. A consent tow does not include a vehicle towed without the consent of the owner or operator, or a tow involving a traffic accident or incident.

6. If I already have a tow company, truck and/or operator license, do I need to get an emergency license to perform consent tows in the emergency area?
No. The emergency consent tow licenses are only for companies, trucks and/or operators that do not have a current TDLR license. If you have a valid TDLR license to perform consent tows, you may perform those tows in the emergency area.

7. If I get an emergency consent tow license, how long is it good for?
The emergency consent tow license is good for 90 days from the date of the Governor’s disaster proclamation.

8. What if the disaster declaration is extended?
If the disaster is extended past 80 days, your license will automatically be extended for an additional 90 days from the date of expiration. You will be able to visit the TDLR website and print out an extended license at no additional charge.

9. What if there is another disaster declaration in another part of Texas? Can I use this license there?
No. The emergency license is only valid in the declared disaster zone for which it was issued.

House Bill 804 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature, amended Occupations Code, Chapter 2303, relating to the forms of payment that the operator of a vehicle storage facility must accept.  House Bill 804 and the changes to Chapter 2303 became effective September 1, 2015. TDLR encourages all persons interested in the Vehicle Storage Facilities program to review the updated Occupations Code, Chapter 2303.

Houston-Area Tow Inspection Round-Up April 6, 2016

TDLR will host a Tow Round-Up for tow company and tow truck inspections for Fort Bend, Wharton, Austin, Brazoria and Harris Counties on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM at  Fort Bend County Fairgrounds Parking Lot, 4310 Hwy 36 South,  Rosenberg, Texas 77471.

Tow Round-Ups provide a convenient way to satisfy the required biennial inspection. To arrange for inspection, please text, leave a voicemail or e-mail one of the following TDLR’s Inspectors:

Please note the requirements for Inspection:

Tow Truck and Equipment Inspection Includes:

  1. Tow Operator’s License (TDLR license and driver’s license) for all drivers including owners
  2. Cab Card
  3. Proof of Liability Insurance
  4. Legible manufacturer’s data plate or document from manufacturer stating the capacity of boom, winch or carry mechanism
  5. Winch in good condition (must not exceed capacity of boom or leak oil)
  6. Hydraulic lines free of leaks and in good condition
  7. Cables meeting manufacturer’s specifications and in good condition
  8. Tow truck signage

Additional Required Information:

For Consent Tow Companies

  1. Proof the company is following the adopted drug test policy for all employees and the owner if applicable (latest drug testing results)

For Private Property and Incident Management Tow Companies

  1. Proof the company is following the adopted drug test policy for all employees and the owner if applicable (latest drug testing results)
  2. Five (5) Non-Consent Tow Tickets from each of the following months, November 2015, December 2015, and January 2016 (15 tickets total) (if you do not have 5 for each month, we will need to inspect 15 tow tickets from the last 6 months).

The Two Most Common Violations found at Tow Round-Ups are:

TDLR WILL NOT CHECK FOR TOW TRUCK EQUIPMENT (fire extinguishers, broom, shovel, etc.)

Sample Towing and Booting Signs - examples of TDLR-approved towing and booting signs:

Statewide Maximum Charges for Private property towing went into effect on September 1, 2010 - The 2009 Legislature passed HB2571 to amend the Towing and Booting Act. The bill requires TDLR’s Commission to adopt rules to establish the maximum amount that may be charged for private property tows in Texas. The bill also requires the Commission to specify the type and amount of any fee that may be charged in connection with a private property tow, other than the tow fee. After months of review and input from the public and industry, the Towing and Booting Advisory Board made recommendations to TDLR’s Commission. On August 9, 2010, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation established the statewide maximum amounts for private property tows and specified that a drop fee may also be charged. The private property statewide maximum tow charges went into effect on September 1, 2010. A tow company performing private property tows may not charge more than the private property statewide maximum tow amounts on or after that date. Please review these Frequently Asked Questions for further information.

All tow truck operators must be licensed. There are three different types of tow operator licenses: the Incident Management Tow Operator License, the Private Property Tow Operator License, and The Consent Tow Operator License. Tow truck operators need to choose only one designation. The Incident Management License allows a driver to perform incident management towing, private property towing and consent towing. The Private Property License allows private property towing and consent towing. The Consent Towing License only authorizes consent towing.

Incident Management (IM) and Private Property (PP) Towing Operators are required to be certified by the National Drivers Certification Program of the Towing and Recovery Association of America, AAA-Texas, Towing and Recovery Association of America, Texas Towing and Storage Association, Southwest Tow Operators Association, TOWS (Training of Wrecker Services), or the proctored program from WreckMaster, Inc. Currently these programs are the only acceptable certification programs. TDLR does not provide certification classes or certifications. Additional certification programs may be approved in the future. Certification must be obtained before drivers are eligible for an IM or PP license. Applicants for the Consent Towing License do not need to be certified.

The Incident Management Feasibility Study (734kb PDF) has been completed by Morningside Research and Consulting, Inc. The study includes information about:

· the fees charged for motor vehicle towing services;
· the feasibility and effects of the implementation of a fee schedule or establishment of a maximum fee for motor vehicle towing services;
· the terms and timing of payment to incident management towing companies including payment for the release of semitrailers and other motor vehicles; and
· evaluate any other aspect of the towing of motor vehicles that the agency determines necessary.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the study. The agency has the study online for you to review.

REMINDER: The requirement to submit non-consent tow fee schedules to TDLR was repealed September 1, 2011.

Tow companies that perform non-consent tows are no longer required to submit their non-consent tow fee schedules to the Department.

Tow companies that perform non-consent tows must still provide a non-consent tow fee schedule to all vehicle storage facilities to which the tow company delivers vehicles for storage. Upon request, vehicle storage facilities must provide a copy of the non-consent tow fees. Please note that for private property tows, tow companies that perform non-consent tows may not charge a fee that is greater than the statewide maximum private property fees set by the Department. Tow companies may not charge more than private property tow and drop fees set by a municipality, if those fees are less than the statewide maximum private property fees.

For incident management tows, tow companies that perform non-consent tows may not charge a fee greater than the tow fees authorized by the municipality or local government where a tow originated.

Sample tow tickets now available

Reporting Abandoned Nuisance Vehicles

Number of Days a Vehicle Storage Facility Has to Send Second Notice - Effective September 1, 2011, a licensed vehicle storage facility now sends the second notice 15 days after the first notice to the registered owner/lienholder. For a vehicle accepted by the licensed vehicle storage facility before September 1, 2011, the vehicle storage facility must wait 41 days before sending the second notice.