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Tow/Recovery Vehicles


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

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.
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;
  • Tow/recovery vehicle registration:
    • 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, Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD) issues registration;
    • If the combined weight is 26,000 pounds or less, DMV issues registration; and
  • Tow/recovery vehicle plates.

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.
  • $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/recovery 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.
  • 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.

Out-of-State Tow/Recovery Businesses

To operate as an out-of-state tow/recovery business in Oregon, each tow/recovery vehicle needs:

  • Valid prorated registration (also known as apportioned registration, the international registration plan, IRP);
  • A tow/recovery business certificate issued by DMV;
  • Tow/recovery vehicle plates issued by DMV;
  • If the vehicle has a combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more (the empty weight of the vehicle plus the total weight of the load carried on that vehicle), a temporary pass issued by the Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD); and
  • Insurance coverage for $50,000 cargo, $750,000 liability per accident.
To Apply
  • Verify that the vehicle being used to tow in Oregon has prorated registration;
  • Complete an Application for Tow or Recovery Vehicle Business Certificate (Form 735-387);
  • Provide a valid Certificate of Liability Insurance to DMV;
  • Pay the $17 annual fee for the tow/recovery vehicle business certificate;
  • Pay the $24 plate fee; and
  • Submit the completed, signed application and fee to DMV.
How to Submit Your Application
You may submit your completed and signed application, supporting materials, and payment to any full service DMV office. If all is in order, you may receive a temporary registration permit. You may also mail your application to the address below:
Oregon DMV
1905 Lana Ave NE
Salem, OR 97314
Make checks or money orders payable to “Oregon DMV”
Note: All DMV offices accept cash or checks and will be able to accept debit and credit cards for payment by the end of 2016. Certain DMV offices are already able to take debit and credit card payments.

Related Information
Additional information that may be relevant includes: