Are you a Tow Truck Operator in Ontario? Or want to become one?

The province of Ontario has a lot of regulations when it comes to being a tow truck driver or running a tow truck operation. Make sure you have your Commercial Vehicle Operations Regulation’s (CVOR) set up and ready to go.

The Ministry of Transportation changed the CVOR registration system and now requires Ontario tow truck operators to obtain a CVOR.  This change is part of a set of regulations introduced by the Ontario Government meant to strengthen consumer protection  when using tow trucks and other vehicle storage services.

So what do you need to know to become a tow truck driver?

There are many regulations to being a tow truck driver or tow truck operator in Ontario. Not only do you need your Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR), but you also need your Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act certificate (TSSEA). As a certificate holder you must follow the code of conduct, meet Ontario’s safety and customer protection requirements, and lastly, submit your maximum rates to the Ministry of Transportation who in turn will post them publicly.

Tow truck drivers and operators must also follow all of Ontario’s commercial vehicle safety laws. The only difference is that there are no hours of service requirements for tow truck drivers.

Regulations for Ontario tow truck operators include:

  • Ontario tow truck operators must obtain and comply with all regulations surrounding the CVOR.
  • must carry both the tow operator’s certificate (effective January 1, 2024), and your tow driver’s certificate (which will be effective as of July 1, 2024) when operating the tow truck.
  • Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle
  • Publicly disclose rates and other information such as the provider’s name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business
  • Disclose the maximum rates to the customer for towing
  • Accept credit card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only)
  • Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed
  • Tow the vehicle in the most direct route to the delivery location
  • Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge
  • Give consumers an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment
  • Disclose if they are getting a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.
  • show your TSSEA certificate to customers upon request
  • A tow truck driver must go over the the customers list of rights, before asking for consent to tow
  • maintain and monitor your towing operations email address
  • Get the proper documents signed for consent to tow (unless otherwise directed by a police officer). If consent is not given then no payment can be collected for the towing.
  • Remember to take picture’s of the vehicle if it is being towed for recovery purposes.
  • Tell the customer if the facility you are referring them to for storage or other purposes has personal gain for you
  • If you are towing a vehicle to a storage facility, it is your job as tow driver to give any information about the vehicle or driver to the storage facility
  • Maintain a run sheet that details all towing related services such as consent documents, pictures of the vehicle, run sheets to the tow operator
  • follow all Highway Traffic Act laws as they pertain to tow truck drivers for:
    • speed
    • obeying police direction
    • not providing towing in restricted towing zones
    • near collision scenes

Tow truck drivers must not do the following:

  • allow passengers other than those from the vehicle being towed, to ride in the tow truck for the purpose of selling a product or service. Any non-customer passengers must be recorded in the run sheet
  • tow a vehicle to a mechanic or repair shop unless the customer has agreed to it
  • receive any benefit for providing any advice that leads to further towing, appraising, repairing, or wrecking services
  • recommend or refer anyone to legal or health care services
  • provide any false advertising
  • charging a higher amount than agreed upon
  • offer services that have not been requested
  • misuse any information about a customer

The Ontario government points to the 2010 accident rate for tow truck operators which was 19.7% compared to 1.1% for drivers of other commercial vehicles which helped prompt adding this class of vehicle to the CVOR system.  The province hopes to increase safety and enforcement of tow truck operators by including in them in the CVOR system which will monitor them for conduct and hours of service of drivers, maintenance of vehicles  including daily inspections, proper record keeping, and collisions. Ontario has been working on these changes since 2008.

Applying for your CVOR

Ontario tow truck operators  will need to pass a knowledge test to apply for their CVOR. The processes can take anywhere from 21 days to a couple of weeks, so start the application process as soon as possible if you want to start your tow truck operation.

The following definition of tow truck is part of the CVOR requirement, effective since January 1, 2017:

  • A motor vehicle commonly known as a tow truck;
  • A commercial motor vehicle with a flatbed that can tilt to load and that is used exclusively to tow or transport other motor vehicles; and
  • A motor vehicle that is designed, modified, configured or equipped so that it is capable of towing other motor vehicles.

Contact us today to ensure you meet these regulatory challenges.  We can help you with making sure you not only meet the CVOR requirements but also exceed them.  Our staff will start you off on the right foot.

contact peter suess transporation consultant

Based in Brantford Ontario, Peter Suess Transportation Consultant, Inc (PSTC)  is a full-service transportation consulting  firm that provides a range of custom safety, security and risk management products and  support services to:

Motor Carriers
Operators of heavy vehicles outside the transportation industry
Insurance Agencies

For more information about how we can help you, please visit us at

photo credit: 2009 Ford F-450 Tow Truck w/ Range Rover via photopin (license)