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How to Start a Towing Business in Virginia

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Photography taken by Mario Gutiérrez./Moment/GettyImages

Prior to starting a towing business in Virginia, it is important to be aware of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s towing and recovery regulations. The Virginia Board of Towing and Recovery Operations oversees the performance of all towing businesses operating in Virginia. In order to start a Virginia tow truck business, a new business owner must be familiar with the towing laws of the Commonwealth as well as the towing and recovery business application process.

Apply for a tow truck driver authorization document if you do not already have one. If you have previously worked in Virginia as a tow truck driver, your previous employer may have the document (also called a DAD) on file. Before completing the application an applicant must get a fingerprint card so that a Federal background check can be completed when the application is processed. The fingerprint card can be obtained at any local law enforcement office or police department. As of April 2010 the driver authorization document application fee is $87. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.

Purchase towing trucks that will be used to operate the towing business. Certain counties in Virginia, such as Henrico County, require tow truck businesses to have all company vehicles inspected prior to receiving a license. Towing business operators are also required to provide the Commonwealth of Virginia with the make, model, and license plate number of all business towing vehicles.

Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service using the IRS website. The number will be used when completing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s towing and recovery application. The application is free and the IRS will email the applicant a new EIN shortly after the application is completed. If the business is being established as a sole proprietorship (there will be only one owner) an EIN will not be required.

Complete a Virginia towing and recovery license application. The application will provide the Commonwealth of Virginia with the address of the business, the EIN of the business (or social security number of the owner), and the vehicle details. The business owner will also need to provide the names and driver’s license numbers of all employees who will be operating the tow trucks. If the primary owner of the company has a tow truck license in another state he or she will need to provide this information to the Commonwealth.

Pay the non-refundable application fees. As of April 2010 the Virginia tow truck application fees are $400 to $500 annually. An additional fee of $10 fee per tow truck is required in order to receive decals. The fee must be included with the completed application and the check or money order must be made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.

Begin advertising your new business once the towing and recovery license application has been approved. Focus on businesses such as automotive repair shops and parking garages that utilize towing services on a regular basis. Also contact property management companies that offer towing services to home owners and renters. Being available on a nearly constant basis is often necessary to establish a new business and earn a good reputation with local businesses.


Tameka McSpadden is a freelance writer with several years of professional experience. With both a Bachelor of Science in health care management and an associate degree in business administration from Bellevue University, McSpadden enjoys writing about all medical topics. She is currently preparing for a literary agency internship in North Georgia while attending various writing workshops.

Photo Credits

Photography taken by Mario Gutiérrez./Moment/GettyImages