Driver certificates

The driver of a tow truck must hold a tow truck drivers certificate issued by the Roads and Maritime Services. A maximum fine of $5,500, six months imprisonment or both may be imposed for driving a tow truck without a current driver certificate.

Example of a NSW drivers certificate

What is the purpose of a drivers certificate?

Certification is the system used by Roads and Maritime to assess whether a person is of suitable character, fitness, aware of their responsibilities, and able to conduct themselves appropriately in driving and operating a tow truck. In this way it can be seen as a type of quality assurance for tow truck operations.

The certificate is also used to allow members of the community to easily identify that the tow truck driver is authorised to tow their vehicle.

Criteria for granting a drivers certificate

The criteria for tow truck driver certification are the requirements that applicants must meet before a tow truck drivers certificate can be issued by Roads and Maritime.

As an applicant, you must:

  • Hold an unrestricted driver licence; and
  • Satisfy Roads and Maritime that you:
    • Are of good repute and in all other respects a fit and proper person to be the driver of a tow truck, and
    • Have sufficient responsibility to drive a tow truck in accordance with law and custom.

Driver licence requirements

An applicant who resides in NSW must hold an unrestricted NSW driver licence. A licence issued by a government authority in any other Australian State or Territory is acceptable only if the driver drives in a NSW border town but resides in another State or Territory.

A driver licence issued outside Australia is not acceptable.

You must provide a photocopy of your current driver licence when you apply for a tow truck drivers certificate.

Good repute, fit and proper checks

Roads and Maritime examines all the circumstances of a particular application to make an assessment about whether it considers a person is of good repute, and fit and proper.

As part of the procedure to assess whether you are of good repute and fit and proper, Roads and Maritime will check to see whether you have a criminal record.

Your application will not be accepted if you do not grant permission for Roads and Maritime to obtain this information.

If you have lived outside NSW or overseas within the past 10 years, your must provide an original printout of any criminal record or statement from the relevant police, confirming that you have no record for that period in that jurisdiction.

You must also give Roads and Maritime permission to review your driving records for the purpose of checking whether you are fit and proper to drive a tow truck.

Applying for a drivers certificate

In making an application for a licence to operate a tow truck, you must provide answers to all questions in the application form truthfully. If Roads and Maritime finds that you have made false or misleading statements or falsified any documentation, your application will be refused.

Your responsibilities

In order to submit an application, you must have:

  • Read and understood the criteria, conditions and procedures for certification as outlined in this fact sheet and the application form
  • Completed the application form
  • Signed the application form declaring that you:
    • Answered all the questions truthfully, and
    • Have an understanding of, and will abide by, the conditions and requirements for being certified as a tow truck driver.

Supporting documents

Once you have completed the application form, you must attach the following documents to your application:

  • A photocopy of the your driver licence
  • Two photographs (passport size) of your head and neck without a hat or sunglasses on a pale background, and that is not more than six months old
  • Interstate or overseas criminal history and traffic record (if applicable)
  • Correct payment of the application fee

Criminal history checks

If you reside outside NSW your criminal history check and traffic history check must be dated within six weeks of your application being lodged.

Roads and Maritime does not accept criminal history checks provided by private companies or brokers. Criminal history checks must be issued by the police in your state of residence.

Payment

Before proceeding with any application Roads and Maritime must receive correct payment in the form of a credit card, cheque or money order, payable to ‘Roads and Maritime Services’. Payments by cash or EFTPOS can also be made over the counter at some registries and service centres. These are shown on the application form. Please do not send cash in the post.

See fees for the current fees applicable. Part of this fee is an administrative payment for assessing your application and is not refundable (even if the application is unsuccessful).

Assessment

Roads and Maritime will examine your application to ensure that all the information and documentation has been provided.

Incomplete applications will be returned to you for completion.

Roads and Maritime may, at times, seek further information from another agency about your application or may write to you seeking more information. Your application may be refused if the results of the checks are not satisfactory.

Applications for subsequent driver certificates

You can apply for subsequent driver certificates for a period of one or three years. To be eligible for a three year licence, you must meet certain criteria, which is explained in more detail in the next section.

You can submit your application up to six weeks prior to the expiry of your current driver certificate. If your driver certificate expires, your certificate is no longer valid and will remain inactive until Roads and Maritime has processed your new application. It is the responsibility of each driver to ensure they lodge their application for a subsequent driver certificate before the expiry of the current certificate.

If an application for a subsequent driver certificate is submitted and the correct fee paid before the expiry of the current certificate, the current certificate will continue for an additional 90 days after the expiry date, or until a decision on the subsequent application is made, whichever is sooner.

Three year drivers certificates

Three year terms for driver certificates have been introduced in an effort to reduce administrative costs for businesses and individuals in both licensing fees, and the time taken in making an application.

There are strict eligibility requirements that need to be met by applicants. Please ensure you understand and can meet these requirements prior to making your application to avoid delays and disappointment.

If you are not sure if you can meet the eligibility criteria please contact Roads and Maritime on 1300 131 134 prior to submitting your application.

Criteria for granting a three year drivers certificate

To be eligible for a three year certificate you must meet the criteria for eligibility prescribed in the Tow Truck Industry Act 1998 (the Act).

If you cannot meet the criteria you will not be eligible for a three year certificate. Please read the following criteria carefully prior to making your application.

How to satisfy the criteria

A drivers certificate may be granted for a period of three years if:

  1. The applicant has requested that the drivers certificate be granted for a period of three years; and
  2. The applicant has held a drivers certificate for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the date that the subsequent drivers certificate will come into force (that is, during that period of five years, the applicant’s drivers certificate was not suspended or revoked and did not lapse); and
  3. The applicant is not, at the time the application is made, under investigation by Roads and Maritime in relation to any breach of a condition of a drivers certificate or any other contravention of the Act or the regulations; and
  4. The applicant has not, in the five years immediately before the date of the application:
    1. Been subject to any prescribed disciplinary action under the Act; or
    2. Engaged in any prescribed conduct; and
  5. Roads and Maritime is satisfied that a three year drivers certificate should be granted.

Definitions

Prescribed conduct means any conduct that:

  1. If the applicant applied for a drivers certificate immediately after engaging in the conduct, would, in the opinion of Roads and Maritime, be sufficient to justify the application being refused; or
  2. If the applicant held a drivers certificate at the time of engaging in the conduct, would, in the opinion of Roads and Maritime, be sufficient to justify:
    1. The suspension of a drivers certificate held by the applicant; or
    2. The permanent revocation of a drivers certificate held by the applicant; or
    3. The disqualification of the applicant from holding a drivers certificate.

Prescribed disciplinary action means:

  1. The suspension of a drivers certificate held by the applicant; or
  2. The permanent revocation of a drivers certificate held by the applicant; or
  3. The disqualification of the applicant from holding a drivers certificate.

Lapse means any period where you did not hold a current driver certificate, this includes:

  • Making an application for renewal after the expiry of your previous drivers certificate.
  • If your drivers certificate is revoked, suspended, cancelled or not current in any form for a period of time.

What happens if I am not eligible for a three year certificate?

Please ensure your eligibility prior to submitting your application. You can call Roads and Maritime on 1300 131 134 for advice if you are not sure if you are eligible.

If you are not eligible for a three year certificate but meet the requirements for a one year certificate Roads and Maritime will advise you of this and issue the certificate for one year, and refund any applicable fees.

If you are not eligible for a three year or a one year certificate Roads and Maritime will advise you of this.

What happens if I am subject to any disciplinary action after I am granted a three year certificate?

If your drivers certificate is revoked you will not be eligible for any refund on your certificate fee and will have to make a new application when eligible to do so.

In the case of a three year drivers certificate that is suspended, the drivers certificate will be suspended for the specified period and, when the suspension ends, the period the drivers certificate is in force will be reduced so that it will cease to be in force on the next anniversary of its issue (and refund fees accordingly).

You will also be ineligible to apply for a three year licence on your next application.

If you do not agree with a determination made in regard to three year licence terms you will be able to apply to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

How are the costs for three year certificates calculated?

Three year certificates are provided at a discount rate to reflect the reduction in administrative work that Roads and Maritime will undertake in subsequent years.

All drivers certificate fees contain a licence fee component and an administrative component. The discount is applied to the administrative component of the licence or certificate fee.

A full list of Roads and Maritime fees and charges can be found on the fees page.

Revocations under section 32 of the Act

Section 32 of the Act states;

‘If the driver licence of a certified driver is cancelled, suspended or otherwise ceases to be in force under any Act or other law, his or her drivers certificate is, without any further action, taken to be revoked.’

Roads and Maritime conducts weekly audits to ensure that tow truck drivers are holding a valid driver licence. If a person is found to have a licence that is not in force (expired, cancelled, suspended etc) for any reason the person’s drivers certificate is automatically revoked.

This is a requirement under legislation and can’t be changed under any circumstances, so please be aware if your certificate is revoked you will have to make a new application to Roads and Maritime.

This decision cannot be reversed no matter what the circumstances of the cancellation, and in the case of a three year drivers certificate you will not be eligible on your next application.

Refusal of an application for a drivers certificate

There are mandatory and discretionary grounds for the refusal of an application. See refusal provisions for more information.

If your application is refused you will be notified in writing.

Roads and Maritime will also advise you of any rights you might have to appeal against a refusal.

Important things to remember if your application is successful

  • You must hold a current tow truck drivers certificate and Roads and Maritime driver licence at all times when driving or operating a tow truck
  • If at any time your Roads and Maritime driver licence is suspended, disqualified, cancelled or expires, your drivers certificate is also cancelled
  • If you are convicted of a criminal offence in a court your drivers certificate may be affected. Please contact Roads and Maritime if this happens
  • You must wear your drivers certificate so that it is clearly visible while you are:
    • At, or in the vicinity of a motor vehicle accident; or
    • Driving or standing a licensed tow truck on a road or road related area; or
    • Carrying out, or attempting to obtain, any towing work; or
    • Travelling in a tow truck as a passenger; or
    • Otherwise using or operating a tow truck
  • You must produce your drivers certificate on demand to an authorised officer or police officer
  • You must notify Roads and Maritime in writing of any proposed change in the particulars specified in your drivers certificate. That notification must be given seven days before the proposed change occurs.

Further information

If you have any questions about general tow truck services or if you need help in understanding any of the requirements for a drivers certificate, please contact Roads and Maritime on 1300 131 134.

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