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.

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.

Senate Bill 1501 deregulates statewide licensing of vehicle booting starting on September 1, 2018.

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News and Updates

TDLR Adopts Administrative Rules

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to an existing rule regarding the Vehicle Towing and Booting program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 86, §86.705; and the repeal of existing §86.213).

The adoption justification was published in the February 8, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 586).  The updated rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of February 15, 2019.

Tow Inspections Discontinued

Effective immediately, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is discontinuing periodic inspections of tow companies. Local jurisdictions have ordinances overseeing tow company and tow truck operations, and the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Department of Motor Vehicles also inspect tow trucks, depending on their size. Discontinuing these periodic, routine inspections will reduce the redundant regulatory burdens on this industry and allow both TDLR and licensees to more efficiently use their time and limited resources to perform additional time-intensive inspections of massage, cosmetology and vehicle storage facility establishments.

Texas law does not require TDLR to perform periodic inspections of tow companies or tow trucks. Further, there have been no serious health or safety violations identified by TDLR during these inspections. TDLR will continue to investigate complaints received regarding tow companies, check insurance, and perform spot inspections when necessary.

Emergency Consent Tow Licensing: October Severe Weather and Flooding

Under authority of Chapter 86, Texas Administrative Code, TDLR Executive Director Brian Francis has activated emergency consent tow provisions for the 54 Texas counties identified by Governor Greg Abbott in his October 16 and October 19, 2018 disaster declarations. These emergency provisions will help expedite recovery and cleanup efforts and allow more tow operators to assist our fellow Texans in their time of need.

The disaster area includes the following Texas counties: Aransas, Atascosa, Austin, Bandera, Bastrop, Baylor, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brooks, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Callahan, Cameron, Chambers, Coleman, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Eastland, Edwards, Ellis, Erath, Fannin, Fayette, Fort Bend, Frio, Galveston, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hamilton, Harris, Haskell, Hays, Hidalgo, Hill, Hood, Hopkins, Houston, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Jones, Karnes, Kenedy, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Kleberg, Knox, Lampasas, La Salle, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Live Oak, Llano, Madison, Mason, Matagorda, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Mills, Montgomery, Nolan, Nueces, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Real, Refugio, San Jacinto, San Patricio, San Saba, Shackelford, Somervell, Starr, Stephens, Sutton, Tarrant, Taylor, Throckmorton, Travis, Trinity, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties.

Emergency consent tow operator license applications are now available from TDLR:

To be eligible, you must:

  • complete the online application;
  • 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.

The emergency consent tow operator license may ONLY be used for consent tow services performed in the 54 counties in the Governor’s October 16 and October 19, 2018 disaster declarations.

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.

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. See 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. See Requirements for Emergency Tow Company License.

Notice to all Vehicle Storage Facilities in a declared disaster area: All emergency consent tow licenses must be accepted as identification for vehicle pick-up or drop-off at your facility, just as any regular consent tow license would.

For questions or help, please email or call TDLR at 1-800-803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Justification for Adoption of Repealed Administrative Rules

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopts the repeal of existing rules effective September 1, 2018, regarding the Vehicle Booting and Immobilization program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 89, §§89.1, 89.10, 89.21 - 89.30, 89.40, 89.45 - 89.48, 89.65 - 89.73, 89.75 - 89.80, 89.90, 89.91, 89.100 - 89.103).

The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site.

Emergency Suspension of Certain VSF Technical Requirements: Hurricane Harvey

To assist with the ongoing recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Governor Greg Abbott has temporarily suspended all necessary statutes and rules related to the physical requirements for establishing a licensed Vehicle Storage Facility (VSF). This suspension allows currently licensed VSFs to utilize additional temporary lots beyond those now in use, on which to store flooded and abandoned vehicles. This suspension applies only in counties within Governor Abbott’s August 27, 2017 Disaster Declaration (see below) and is in effect until the Office of the Governor terminates it or until the Hurricane Harvey disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

Licensed VSF owners or controlling persons must call TDLR at (800) 803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CDT to notify the agency of their need to use additional lots and to receive further assistance. Please have the following information ready:

  • TDLR VSF license number
  • Temporary lot address and location

The specific technical requirements in suspension are:

85.1000 Technical Requirements—Facility Fencing Requirements;

85.1001 Technical Requirements—Storage Lot Surface;

85.1002 Technical Requirements—Storage Lot Lighting;

85.1003 Technical Requirements—Storage Lot Signs

The suspension is effective in the following counties (updated September 6, 2018):

Angelina, Aransas, Atascosa, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Colorado, Comal, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kerr, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Live Oak, Madison, Matagorda, Milam, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, San Jacinto, Sabine, San Augustine, San Patricio, Trinity, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton, Willacy, and Wilson.

Licensed VSFs are advised to check first with their local law enforcement agency, motor vehicle division, and/or health department about location and placement of additional temporary lots.

Questions about additional temporary lots can also be sent to

For questions or help, please email or call TDLR at 1-800-803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Advisory Board Meetings

November 14, 2018

The Towing and Storage Advisory Board met November 14, 2018 in Austin. The agenda and staff reports (PDF) are available online. The meeting was archived and is available on TDLR's YouTube channel.

Archived News and Updates

Forms of Payment that a Vehicle Storage Facility Must Accept


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.

Sample Towing Signs

JUNE 24, 2014

Examples of TDLR-approved towing signs:

Statewide Maximum Charges for Private Property Towing

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.

Non-Consent Tow Fees

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.