Scrap metal exemption authority

The Tow Truck Industry Act 1998 (the Act) requires that the operator of a tow truck must hold an operators 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 an exemption authority?

Roads and Maritime uses a licensing system to assess whether a person is of suitable character, fitness, aware of their responsibilities, and 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.

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

The exemption authority has been implemented to make the requirements for licensing less onerous for businesses operating crane type tow trucks that solely transport motor vehicles destined for scrap metal recycling and are not destined for repair, reuse or resale in their original form or as parts.

Criteria for granting an authority

The criteria are requirements that applicants must meet before an authority can be issued by Roads and Maritime

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

  • Are of good repute and in all other respects a fit and proper person to be the operator of a tow truck, and
  • Have sufficient responsibility to operate a tow truck in accordance with law and custom, and
  • Do not operate a tilt tray tow truck.

You must provide proof to Roads and Maritime that:

  • Your business is incorporated and registered
  • The only vehicles used in the business are crane type tow trucks and are registered
  • All premises are covered by the required insurance policies
  • 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 Roads and Maritime will check to see whether you have a criminal record. Your application will not be accepted if you do not grant Roads and Maritime permission to obtain this information.

If you have lived outside NSW or overseas within the past 10 years, you 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.

Business premises

Your primary business premises must be subject to public liability insurance cover. All records required to be kept under legislation must be maintained at your business premises and available for inspection.


Tilt tray tow trucks cannot be included on an exemption authority.

Any tow trucks used by you must have an approved sign displayed on the front and rear of each tow truck used in the business in positions where they are visible outside the tow truck, and have current motor vehicle registration.

You will have to provide proof of this to Roads and Maritime whenever you apply/renew an exemption authority in the form of a copy of your current vehicle registration papers, on hold receipts, or plate surrendered receipts.

Please note: Vehicles must be registered in the name of the licensee/proposed licensee. Lease agreements will not be accepted for exempt tow trucks.

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 and Regulation.

Applying for an exemption authority

In making an application for an exemption authority licence, 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, your application will be refused by Roads and Maritime.

The onus is on you as the applicant to show proof that you comply with the criteria. Your 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

You must have:

  • Read and understood the criteria, conditions and procedures 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 holding an exemption authority.

Supporting documents

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

  • All applications:
    • Certificate of currency for public liability insurance for your place of business
    • Copy of current Roads and Maritime registration papers for each vehicle operated
    • Latest annual company statement with shareholder and director details (for Pty Ltd companies)
    • Printout of interstate/overseas criminal record(s) that are under six weeks old, if applicable
    • Certificate of Incorporation (for Pty Ltd companies)
    • Registration of business name for trading name(s).

Photographs of the tow trucks to be included in the scrap metal exemption authority may also be requested by Roads and Maritime.


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 be made over the counter at some registries and service centres. These are listed on the application form Please do not send cash in the post.

See fees for the current exemption authority fees and per vehicle fees applicable 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).


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

If more information is needed from you, or if the documentation is not correct or the application is incomplete, Roads and Maritime will contact you on the phone number or at the address included in the application.

It is an offence to make any statement in the application that is known to be false or misleading. A maximum fine of $5,500 or six months imprisonment or both may be imposed.

Refusal, variation, suspension or cancellation

If Roads and Maritime refuses your application for a scrap metal exemption authority or if it cancels, suspends, or varies an authority, or imposes a condition on it, Roads and Maritime will advise you 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 for review.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision that is reviewable, you may request a review of the decision by Roads and Maritime.

More information

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

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