Operator licences

The operator of a tow truck must hold a tow truck operator licence issued by Roads and Maritime Services. A maximum fine of $11,000, 12 months imprisonment or both may be imposed for operating a tow truck without an appropriate licence.

What is the purpose of a tow truck operator licence?

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

The licence is also used to allow members of the community to easily identify that the tow truck assisting them is part of an approved business.

Criteria for granting a licence

The criteria for tow truck operator licensing are the requirements that applicants must meet before a tow truck operators licence can be issued by Roads and Maritime.

As an applicant, you must satisfy Roads and Maritime that you:

  1. Are of good repute and in all other respects a fit and proper person to be the operator of a tow truck, and
  2. Have sufficient responsibility to operate a tow truck in accordance with law and custom.

You must also provide proof to Roads and Maritime that:

  1. Your business is incorporated registered
  2. Your business premises and holding yard have council approval
  3. The vehicles used in the business are registered
  4. All premises and vehicles are covered by the required insurance policies
  5. All persons connected to the business are fit and proper and of good repute.

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 your are of good repute, and fit and proper, Roads and Maritime will check to see whether you have a criminal record. An application will not be accepted if you do not grant Roads and Maritime permission to obtain this information.

If you lived outside NSW, or overseas, within the past 10 years, you must provide an original printout (under six weeks old) of any criminal record or statement from police (not from a private company or broker), confirming that you have no record for that period in that jurisdiction.

Business premises

Your primary business premises and holding yard(s) must be approved by your local council to conduct a tow truck business. You will need to provide proof to Roads and Maritime your application that you have:

  • Council approval for your business premises (including a home business)
  • Council approval for you holding yard(s).

You will need to provide proof of ownership for your holding yard(s) in the form of a rate notice or lease agreement. This proof will be required every time you renew your licence whether any details change or not.

Vehicles

Any tow trucks used by you must have TT plates affixed and have current motor vehicle registration.

You will have to provide proof of this to Roads and Maritime whenever you apply/renew a tow truck licence in the form of:

  • A copy of your current certificate of registration, on hold receipts, or plate surrendered receipts
  • A copy of your lease agreement for any vehicle not owned by you.

Details of your vehicles and the type of towing work which they can perform will appear on your operator schedule.

Interstate tow truck operators wishing to conduct a tow truck business within NSW should contact Roads and Maritime for further information.

Insurance

All vehicles and business premises must have adequate insurance cover to meet the requirements of Roads and Maritime. You will have to provide proof of this to Roads and Maritime whenever you apply/renew a tow truck licence in the form of:

  • A certificate of currency for public liability insurance policy for your place of business
  • A certificate of currency for public liability insurance policy for your holding yard(s)
  • A certificate of currency for on hook insurance for each vehicle to be operated under the licence.

Note: Roads and Maritime does not accept cover notes, tax invoices or extracts from policy documents.

Directors, partners, shareholders and associates

You must provide details in your application of any person who has an interest in your business, and any other name, identity or alias they may have used in the past. More information on this can be found on the application form and in the Act.

Applying for a tow truck operator licence

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 not been truthful in the application, the licence will be refused.

The onus is on you as the applicant to show proof that you comply with the criteria for licensing. An application will be refused by Roads and Maritime if you are not able to demonstrate that you meet all the criteria and requirements.

Your responsibilities

In order to submit an application, you must have:

  • Read and understood the criteria, conditions and procedures for licensing 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 for being licensed as a tow truck operator.

Supporting documents

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

  • For all applications:
    • Certificate of currency for public liability insurance (place of business and holding yard/s)
    • Certificate of currency for on hook insurance for each vehicle operated
    • Copy of current Roads and Maritime Certificate of Registration for each vehicle operated
    • Latest annual company statement with shareholder and director details (for Pty Ltd companies)
    • Printout of interstate/overseas criminal record(s) if applicable
    • Proof of ownership for holding yard/s (rate notice or lease agreement)
    • Copy of lease agreement for any vehicles not owned by the applicant
  • For new applications (whether a new licence or a renewal after a lapse):
    • Certificate of Incorporation (for Pty Ltd companies)
    • Registration of business name for trading name(s).

Applications with no supporting documents, or with incomplete application forms, will not be accepted and will be returned to the applicant.

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 Service NSW service centres. These are shown on the application form. Please do not send cash in the post.

See fees for the current licence fees applicable per vehicle for metropolitan and country areas. 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.

If we need more information from you, or if the documentation is not correct or the application is incomplete, we will contact you on the phone number or at the address included in your application.

Three year operator licences

Three year terms for operator licences 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 operators licence

To be eligible for a three year licence 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 licence. Please read the following criteria carefully prior to making your application.

How to satisfy the criteria

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

  1. The applicant has requested that the licence be granted for a period of three years
  2. The applicant has held a licence for a continuous period of at least three years immediately before the date that the subsequent licence comes into force (that is, during that period of three years, the applicant’s licence was not suspended or revoked and did not lapse); and
  3. Roads and Maritime is satisfied that a three year licence should be granted.

Definitions

Prescribed conduct means any conduct that:

  1. If the applicant applied for a licence 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 licence 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 licence held by the applicant; or
    2. The permanent revocation of a licence held by the applicant; or
    3. The disqualification of the applicant from holding a licence.

Prescribed disciplinary action means:

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

Lapse means any period where you did not hold a current operators licence, this includes:

  • Making an application for renewal after the expiry of your previous operator licence.
  • If your operator licence 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 licence?

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 licence but meet the requirements for a one year licence Roads and Maritime will advise you of this and issue the licence for one year, and refund any applicable fees.

If you are not eligible for a three year or a one year licence 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 licence?

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

In the case of a three year operators licence that is suspended, the licence will be suspended for the specified period and, when the suspension ends, the period the licence 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 licences calculated?

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

All operators licence fees contain a licence fee component and an administrative component. The discount is applied to the administrative component of the licence 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, variation, suspension or cancellation

If Roads and Maritime refuses an application for a licence or if it cancels, suspends, or varies the licence, or imposes a condition on it, it must advise the applicant/operator of the reasons for the action taken.

Roads and Maritime will also advise you of any rights you might have to appeal against a decision that has a right of review.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision that is reviewable, you may request a review of the decision by Roads and Maritime. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the review, then you may lodge an appeal with the NCAT.

See refusal provisions for more information.

Further information

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

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