Tow Trucks, Operators and Vehicle Storage Facilities

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).
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Emergency Tow Licensing for Areas Affected by Hurricane Harvey

TDLR has activated emergency tow provisions for the disaster areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
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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.


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News and Updates

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:

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, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, San Jacinto, Sabine, 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 CSTowing@tdlr.texas.gov


Emergency Tow Licensing: Hurricane Harvey

Under authority of Chapter 86, Texas Administrative Code, TDLR Executive Director Brian Francis has activated emergency tow provisions for the disaster areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. 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 areas include the following Texas counties identified in Governor Greg Abbott’s updated disaster proclamation effective August 27, 2017: 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, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, San Jacinto, Sabine, San Patricio, Trinity, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton, Willacy, and Wilson.
Emergency tow 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.

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. See Requirements for Emergency Consent Tow Operator License

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 Consent Tow Company License.

Notice to all Vehicle Storage Facilities in a declared disaster area: All emergency consent tow operator licenses, emergency consent tow truck permits, and emergency consent tow company 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 CStowing@tdlr.texas.gov or call TDLR at 1-800-803-9202 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Tow Truck Round-Up Re-Scheduled for September 9

Due to the threat of inclement weather, the TDLR Tow Truck Round-Up inspection scheduled for Saturday. August 26 in Houston has been rescheduled for September 9, 2017 from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. We will notify email subscribers closer to the rescheduled date.


Guidance and Webinar on Vehicle Disposal in lieu of Public Sale

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has provided guidance on applying for a Certificate of Authority to Dispose of a Motor Vehicle to a Demolisher (COA) for vehicles that are not economical to dispose of at public sale through the Registration and Title Bulletin (RTB) offered below.  On behalf of the TxDMV, we are sending you the link to this bulletin for your review.

Additionally, TxDMV will be hosting one webinar for licensed vehicle storage facilities on August 23.  This webinar will provide you with an explanation of the changes and allow you to ask any questions you may have regarding these changes.  Information on this webinar can be found at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXDMV/bulletins/1b05880.

If you have additional questions, please contact the TxDMV Vehicle Titles and Registration Division at (512) 465-5659, option 1.


Vacancies on Towing and Storage Advisory Board

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) announces six vacancies on the Towing and Storage Advisory Board (Board) established by Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 2308 and Chapter 2303. The pertinent rules may be found in 16 Texas Administrative Code §85.650 and §86.650. The purpose of the Board is to advise the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) and TDLR on technical matters relevant to the administration and enforcement of Chapter 2308 and Chapter 2303, including examination content, licensing standards, and continuing education requirements.

This announcement is for:

(1) one representative of a towing company operating in a county with a population of less than one million;

(2) one representative of a vehicle storage facility located in a county with a population of less than one million;

(3) one parking facility representative; 

(4) one peace officer from a county with a population of less than one million;

(5) one peace officer from a county with a population of one million or more; and

(6) one person who operates both a towing company and a vehicle storage facility.

The Board is composed of the following nine members appointed by the presiding officer of the Commission, with the Commission’s approval:  

(1) one representative of a towing company operating in a county with a population of less than one million;

(2) one representative of a towing company operating in a county with a population of one million or more; 

(3) one representative of a vehicle storage facility located in a county with a population of less than one million; 

(4) one representative of a vehicle storage facility located in a county with a population of one million or more; 

(5) one parking facility representative; 

(6) one peace officer from a county with a population of less than one million;

(7) one peace officer from a county with a population of one million or more; 

(8) one representative of a member insurer, as defined by Section 462.004, Insurance Code, of the Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association who writes automobile insurance in this state; and

(9) one person who operates both a towing company and a vehicle storage facility. 

Members serve terms of six years, with the terms of two or three members, as appropriate, expiring on February 1 of each odd-numbered year.

Serving on the Board is not a paid position and there is no compensation for serving on the Board.

Interested persons should submit an application online. Applicants can also request an application from TDLR by telephone at (800) 803-9202 or email at advisory.boards@tdlr.texas.gov.

Guidance on processing “Licensed Vehicle Storage Facility Lien Foreclosures”

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has provided guidance on processing “Licensed Vehicle Storage Facility Lien Foreclosures” to county tax assessor-collectors across the state through the Registration and Title Bulletins (RTB) offered below.  On behalf of the TxDMV, we are sending you links to these bulletins for your review.

If you have additional questions, please contact your local county tax assessor-collector’s office or your TxDMV Regional Service Center.  Contact information for these outlets can be found on the TxDMV website at http://www.txdmv.gov/contact-us under the “Find Your Local Office” tab.


Fake Inspector Reported at VSFs in Montgomery County

Attention Vehicle Storage Facilities (VSFs): TDLR received reports of a man posing as a TDLR inspector to gain access to VSFs and collect fees in Montgomery County (Conroe).

The fake inspector was described as Caucasian, six feet tall, with slicked-back dark hair and no facial hair. He was dressed in a polo shirt with khaki pants and wore an ID on a chain around his neck. He was driving a white Ford Crown Victoria with a spotlight on the driver’s side of the car. The car may also have a red light on top of its dashboard.

NOTE: A real TDLR inspector will never request or accept money under any circumstance while visiting a VSF.

Please contact the police immediately if you encounter this individual. If you believe this individual has visited your VSF or you have any concerns, please contact TDLR customer service at 800-803-9202 or CStowing@tdlr.texas.gov.

Real TDLR inspectors visiting a facility cannot and will not:

  • charge for performing an inspection;
  • accept payment of license fees;
  • request money for violations; or
  • charge for copies of an inspection.

Real TDLR inspectors will:

  • introduce themselves;
  • show their State of Texas employee ID card;
  • provide their contact information upon request; and
  • provide their TDLR business card upon request.

Scams like this one can happen anywhere. Please use the info above to identify suspicious or potentially illegal activity. Impersonating a public servant is a third-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code. Please contact the police immediately if you encounter this individual.


Advisory Board Meetings

September 12, 2017 Meeting Rescheduled to September 22

The Towing and Storage Advisory Board meeting scheduled for September 14 has been rescheduled for Friday, September 22 at 10:00 a.m. in the 1st Floor Public Meeting Room (125E) of TDLR's North Campus, located at 1106 Clayton Lane in Austin. The agenda and staff reports (PDF) are available online. Due to technical difficulties, the meeting will not be broadcast live. After the meeting, a recorded video will be posted on TDLR's YouTube channel.

Previous Meeting - July 14, 2017

The Towing, Storage and Booting Advisory Board met July 14 in Austin. The agenda and staff report 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

SEPTEMBER 4, 2015

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 and Booting Signs

JUNE 24, 2014

Examples of TDLR-approved towing and booting 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.