Overview

By law, a certificate is required to provide towing or vehicle storage services in Ontario.

There are 3 types of certificates:

  • tow operator certificate
  • tow driver certificate
  • vehicle storage operator certificate

You must meet certain requirements to apply for and keep your certification.

Tow operator and vehicle storage certificates must be renewed every year. Tow driver certificates must be renewed every 3 years.

To give the industry time to get ready, the requirement to have a certificate will not be enforced until January 1, 2024, for tow and vehicle storage operators and July 1, 2024, for tow truck drivers.

Tow operator and vehicle storage applications are currently being prioritized due to the earlier deadline and the high volume of applications we are receiving.

It may take longer than expected to process tow driver certificate applications. If you are applying for a tow driver certificate, you should apply as early as possible before the July 1, 2024 deadline.

Eligibility and requirements

There are different requirements to be eligible for each certificate.

Tow operators

A tow operator is a person or company that offers towing services.

To apply for a certificate, you must:

  • have a valid Ontario Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) certificate — if you do not have a CVOR, a National Safety Certificate (NSC) will be required.
  • meet commercial vehicle safety requirements, including requirements for vehicle inspections and equipment (tow truck operators are currently exempt from Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) requirements)
  • have minimum insurance coverage of:
    • $2 million in liability insurance for personal injury or death and loss or damage to property
    • $100,000 in consumer vehicle insurance
    • $50,000 in cargo liability insurance
  • have no outstanding fees or fines
  • have not been refused a municipal licence
  • have always provided towing services competently and safely

All applicants and corporate officers of the tow company must:

Tow truck drivers

To apply, you must have:

  • a valid driver’s licence (minimum G class)
  • a Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check
  • completed a mandatory driver training program approved by the Ministry of Transportation (a list of authorized training providers will be posted once available). 
    • Tow truck drivers applying by June 30, 2024, can get a certificate without having completed the approved training as long as they complete the approved training before renewing. 
    • Tow truck drivers applying on or after July 1, 2024, must complete approved training before applying.
    • Tow truck drivers who have completed a training program approved by the ministry in the past 3 years are not required to complete a mandatory driver training program again
  • not have been convicted of certain offences or have a licence suspension under the:
    • Criminal Code of Canada
    • Highway Traffic Act
    • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
    • Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
  • not have any court orders or conditions of parole that prohibit you from possessing a weapon or prohibit you from being around or alone with certain people outlined in the court order
  • have no outstanding fees or fines
  • have not been refused a municipal licence
  • have always provided towing services competently and safely

Vehicle storage operators

A vehicle storage operator is a person or company that offers vehicle storage facilities or services.

To apply, you must:

  • have minimum insurance coverage of:
    • $2 million in liability insurance for personal injury or death and loss or damage to property
    • $100,000 in consumer vehicle insurance
    • $50,000 in cargo liability insurance
  • meet municipal zoning requirements for all vehicle storage locations. Contact your municipality for information on zoning requirements.
  • have no outstanding fees or fines
  • have not been refused a municipal licence
  • have always provided vehicle storage services competently and safely

All applicants and corporate officers of the vehicle storage company must:

Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check

A Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check (CRJMC) is required for all applicants. The CRJMC must be less than 90 days old from the search date when you submit your application.

If you are applying as a corporation, all active corporate officers listed in the Ontario Business Registry or Corporations Canada need to have a CRJMC. Please ensure information about your corporate officers is up-to-date in the registry. Any discrepancies in corporate officers will result in a delay in processing the application or the application being returned.

Learn more about police record checks.

Convictions that make you ineligible

If you or any corporate officers in your company have certain convictions, you won’t be eligible for a certificate indefinitely or for a certain length of time from the day you were convicted.

In addition to the above convictions, tow driver applicants won’t be eligible for a certificate if they have certain driver’s licence suspensions in the previous 2 years.

Refer to Ontario Regulation 167/23 for more details about the types of convictions and suspensions that make you ineligible.

Criminal Code of Canada convictions

  • Terrorism (indefinitely)
  • Firearms (5 years)
  • Sexual offences (either 5 years or indefinitely, depending on the offence)
  • Offering, providing or obtaining sexual services for consideration (5 years)
  • Offences against the person and reputation (either 5 years or indefinitely, depending on the offence)
    • for example, assault, uttering threats, criminal negligence, etc.
  • Offences relating to conveyances (5 years)
    • for example, dangerous operation, operation while impaired, operation while prohibited, etc.
  • Offences against rights of property (5 years)
    • for example, theft, robbery, breaking and entering, etc.
  • Fraudulent transactions (5 years)
  • Wilful and forbidden acts in respect of certain property (5 years)
    • for example, mischief, arson, etc.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act convictions

  • Convictions related to sections 5,6,7 or 7.1 (10 years)
    • for example, trafficking, importing and exporting, production, etc.

Highway Traffic Act driver’s licence suspensions (apply to tow driver applicants only)

  • Suspension for blood alcohol concentration over 0.05 (2 years)
  • Suspension for presence of drug (2 years)
  • Breath testing drivers of commercial motor vehicles (2 years)
  • Suspension for blood alcohol concentration over 0.08, failing or refusing to provide breath sample (2 years)
  • Suspension for drug or drug and alcohol impairment (2 years)
  • Racing, stunts, etc. (2 years)
  • False statement (2 years)
  • Driving while suspended (2 years)
  • Rate of speed — suspension on conviction (2 years)
  • Careless driving (2 years)
  • Careless driving causing bodily harm or death (2 years)
  • Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident (2 years)
  • Avoiding police when requested or directed to stop (2 years)

Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act driver’s licence suspensions (apply to tow driver applicants only)

  • Operating a motor vehicle without automobile insurance (2 years)

Additional requirements

Towing and storage operators must follow rules and a code of conduct when conducting business with customers. Learn more about them in our guide for towing and storage providers.

Certified tow operators, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage operators must also meet the requirements outlined in the following:

Gather supporting information

You will need different information depending on which certificate you are applying for.

Tow operator certificate

You need:

  • an email address
  • a valid Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) number or a valid National Safety Certificate (NSC)
  • auto insurance information
  • Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check for the applicant and, if applicable, all active corporate officers

Tow driver certificate

You need:

  • an email address
  • your driver’s licence
  • Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check

Vehicle storage certificate

You need:

  • an email address
  • a list of all vehicle storage locations operating under the certificate
  • insurance information
  • Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check for the applicant and, if applicable, all active corporate officers

Apply

You can submit an application in:

  • your own name as a sole proprietor (individual)
  • the corporation’s legal business name (corporation)

Cost

For the next year, you can apply for a certificate for free. Starting July 1, 2024, there will be a non-refundable application fee for each certificate (fees are subject to change):

ProductCost
Tow operator certificate$575 per year
Tow driver certificate$195 for 3 years
Vehicle storage certificate$575 per year

Payment options

When you apply online, you can pay with a:

  • credit card (Visa or Mastercard)
  • Visa debit or debit Mastercard

Protect your password

Do not share your login or password for the online application portal with anyone. Your password is highly sensitive and must be protected.

Receive your certificate

After your application is processed and accepted, you will receive your certificate by email.

Compliance

If you fail to comply with one or more of the certificate requirements, your certificate may be refused, suspended, cancelled or have additional conditions placed on it. The Ministry of Transportation may also add, amend or remove any condition on the certificate at any time.

Renew or update your certificate

You will need to renew your certificate regularly to continue operating.

Type of certificateRenewal frequency
Tow operatorEvery year
Tow driverOnce every 3 years
Vehicle storageEvery year

You can view or update your information on your certificate online by using the self-service portal. This service allows you to:

  • Download a copy of your certificate(s)
  • Update your contact information
  • Update business information (such as insurance, drivers, and vehicles)
  • Add or remove vehicle storage locations
  • Submit maximum rates

Access to the service will be granted to the main email address that is listed on your record with the ministry. This email address can add additional users to the service if needed.

You are required to submit any changes to your information within 15 days.

To ensure your personal information is safe, do not share your login or password information with anyone, including representatives you may have authorized.

Exemptions

All tow or vehicle storage operators and tow truck drivers are required to hold a towing or vehicle storage certificate unless exempt.

Full exemptions

Full exemptions include:

  • A tow truck operated under the authority of a service permit and number plate. For example, test driving a tow truck after or during a repair.

The following motor vehicles are not required to be operated under a tow certificate:

  • a motor vehicle only used for personal purposes and used infrequently to tow, for no compensation, another motor vehicle that is only used for personal purposes
  • a motor home only used for personal purposes, which is towing another motor vehicle which the motor home driver only uses for personal purposes
  • a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, towing one or more motor vehicles using the saddlemount configuration

Tow operator and tow driver exemptions

Tow operators and tow truck drivers meeting these conditions do not require a certificate:

  • when the origin of the towing trip begins outside of Ontario, and the tow truck is passing through or dropping off a vehicle in Ontario
  • when directed by a police officer in an emergency situation, such as an out-of-province tow operator or tow truck driver directed by a police officer to clear a highway, roadway or other area

Vehicle storage operator exemptions

Vehicle storage facilities meeting these conditions do not require a certificate:

  • where the storage facility exclusively provides long-term storage (30 days or more) with an upfront contract for storage
  • vehicle repair facilities that do not charge for storing the vehicle while it is waiting to be repaired or picked up

Partial exemptions

When towing is performed under an existing membership-type towing or roadside assistance contract, the consent and invoicing requirements of the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act (TSSEA) do not apply.

Contact us

Ministry of Transportation
Commercial Safety and Compliance Branch
301 St. Paul Street, 3rd floor
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 7R4

Email: towing@ontario.ca