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Tow/Recovery Vehicles

Overview

Large tow vehicleThis page provides information about tow/recovery vehicles (a.k.a., tow trucks, wreckers and carriers). 
 
Use the links below to go directly to any section:
Definition & Operation

Definition
A general definition of a tow recovery vehicle is a vehicle used to transport motor vehicles to another location or to recover motor vehicles that are no longer on a drivable surface.
 
Operation
To operate a tow/recovery vehicle as a business in Oregon, the owner of each tow vehicle needs:

  • A tow/recovery business certificate issued by DMV;
  • A tow/recovery vehicle registration; and
  • If the vehicle has a combined weight of 26,001 or more (the empty weight of all vehicles in a combination plus the total weight of the load carried on that combination of vehicles), or is registered on a prorate basis, registration issued by the Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD), or if the combined weight is 26,000 pounds or less, registration issued by DMV.
Vehicles subject to weight-mile tax through the Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD) must be registered with MCTD.  This applies primarily to vehicles with a registration weight of 26,001 pounds or more.  This also applies to tow/recovery vehicles hauling property for-hire.  In addition, all tow/recovery vehicles with a combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more must obtain a tow business certificate, with tow plates, through DMV at the same time.

 
A tow/recovery business certificate and registration are needed (ORS 822.200) if the owner: 
  1. Engages in the towing or recovering of vehicles by any means for any direct or indirect compensation when the vehicle being towed or recovered is owned by a person other than the person performing the towing or recovery activity; or
  2. Engages in the towing or recovering by any means, as a part of any business operation of the person, vehicles that are wrecked, damaged, disabled, or abandoned or replacement vehicles; or
  3. Purports, in any way, to be engaged in the business of towing and recovering vehicles. "Purports ...to be engaged in..." means to solicit or advertise towing services through the telephone book, business directory, newspaper, radio, television, posting on vehicles, signs, business, billboards, or by any other means (OAR 735-154-0000). 
A person does not need a tow/recovery business certificate and registration if the person is providing assistance to another motorist, whether or not they are compensated, as long as they are not providing assistance as part of their business. 
 
Note: In using the ORS or OAR link above, you will need to scroll down to find the correct ORS reference.

Title & Registration
To Apply
*Vehicles that are registered on a prorated basis may have a title issued in another state. Contact Motor Carrier Transportation Division for more information.
 
Fees
  • $77 or $90 title fee, depending on vehicle weight, if submitting an application for title (changing ownership information). Also see vehicle title fee page for more title fee information
  • The fee for the annual Business Certificate is $17.
  • Tow/Recovery vehicle registration fees, if registered with DMV, are calculated using the Tow/Recovery Vehicles Fee Schedule (Form 735-148).
  • $24 plate fee required if the vehicle does not already have plates (also see registration fee page for plate fees).
  • $5 fee if you are replacing or changing plates at the time of registration renewal.
  • $10 fee if you are replacing or changing plates between registration renewal periods.
  • If registering with MCTD, please contact the Motor Carrier Transportation Division.
  • See our fee page for more details on title and plate fees.
Note: Tow/recover vehicles registered in Multnomah County are subject to Multnomah County registration fees and are required to pay an additional $19 per year of registration.  Multnomah County registration fees are due at initial registration and renewal for registrations expiring on or after September 1, 2010.  Visit Multnomah County's web site for more information.
 
Registration
  • Tow/recovery vehicles cannot be renewed online.
  • See our fee page for more details on registration fees.

If you have any questions regarding what fees are applicable to your transaction, you may wish to contact DMV.

License Plates
All Tow/Recovery vehicles in Oregon are issued license plates by DMV for identification purposes, regardless of whether they are registered with DMV or the Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD).  If the vehicle is registered with MCTD, license plates are issued by both MCTD and DMV. Both sets of license plates issued must be displayed on the vehicle.

Related Information
Additional information that may be relevant includes: