Towing Rules in Ontario—Updated for 2024

Towing Rules in Ontario—Updated for 2024

How Ontario’s Towing Rules Impact Ottawa Residents

Did you get into a car accident recently? Need collision repair in Ottawa? Having to hire a tow truck is usually stressful enough without worrying about whether the towing company is fraudulent or not. Luckily, Ontario has implemented new rules for tow operators operating in Ontario. 

These new regulations have been implemented by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in order to protect consumers against fraud in the storage and towing industry, as well as control the rates of towing services in the province.

*NEW* Towing Rules As Of Jan. 1, 2024

As of January 1, 2024, tow operations are required by law to:

  • Be certified to operate and offer services in Ontario
  • Show the company name and certificate number on all their tow trucks, consent forms, and invoices

Tow Operator Rules

Tow truck drivers, towing companies and vehicle storage operators must be certified in Ontario, as well as abide by a code of conduct. If you’re hiring a tow truck operator, you have rights regarding:

  • providing consent to tow
  • where your vehicle is towed
  • accessing your vehicle
  • vehicle storage facilities
  • rates and payment

Tow truck operators, towing companies and vehicle storage operators are required to follow a code of conduct and meet Ontario’s customer protection and safety requirements.

Tow operators are not allowed to:

  • offer services under another business name or different contact information
  • make a referral without disclosing if they have an interest in the business, facility, individual or entity they are referring you to
  • solicit services you have not requested
  • make false, misleading or deceptive statements
  • provide false information, documents or misleading advertisement
  • charge or attempt to charge you:
  • more than the company’s maximum rate for a service
  • for fuel surcharges
  • for storage services after you had made a reasonable attempt to retrieve your vehicle from their yard
  • refer you to legal or health care services
  • use information collected from you for any purpose other than what is authorized under the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act or Repair and Storage Liens Act

Consent to Tow

Unless you are parked illegally and the tow truck operator is called by the police or an authorized official, you have the right to:

  • choose which company can tow your vehicle (except in a restricted tow zone)
  • choose where your vehicle will be towed

Before they move your vehicle, tow truck drivers and towing companies must do the following:

  • give you their rates (their maximum rate schedule)
  • give you a list of your rights as a customer
  • get your consent to tow on a form that includes:
    • the name of the tow driver and operator
    • the tow driver’s certificate number if they have one
    • their operator certificate number
  • give you an unaltered copy of the form that documents your consent and contains all information required from them by law

You should never sign a blank form. Make sure the required information is on the form before you sign it.

If the tow truck driver or towing company did not get your consent, they cannot charge you for towing services. Further, they are not allowed to make any changes to the agreement once you give consent.

Towing your vehicle

Tow truck drivers must take:

  • the most direct route when dropping your vehicle off at the location they have been told to bring it to
  • photographs of your vehicle if recovery services are provided (however, these photos are for record-keeping purposes only and tow drivers do not need to give you the photos)
  • reasonable precautions to avoid further damage to your vehicle

You are allowed access to your vehicle. You or the person acting on behalf of the owner should be allowed to access the vehicle unless police direct otherwise.

Costs & Payment Rules

Before a towing or storage operator provides their service, they must give you their rates:

  • At their office or place of business
  • On their website
  • At the location where your vehicle is stored

The tow operator or vehicle storage operator cannot charge you more than the maximum listed rate, and when paying, you have the right to:

  • See an itemized invoice before payment is requested
  • Choose your payment method
  • Get a receipt after you pay

Storage Rules

Unlike with tow operators, vehicle storage services do not need your consent to store your car at their vehicle storage facility. However, once they receive any towed vehicles, the vehicle storage providers must make reasonable efforts to inform the vehicle owner of:

  • The location/address of where the vehicle is being held
  • How to retrieve the vehicle from the lot
  • Contact information of the storage provider

The vehicle storage operators can give written notice by email, in person, or by mail or courier. They must also post their government-issued vehicle storage operator certificate at their storage location where customers can see.

Getting Your Vehicle Back

Once you make a request to get your vehicle back, the storage lot operator must organize:

  • A prompt release of your vehicle during their business hours
  • A release as soon as possible when they are not open for business

If the vehicle storage operator doesn’t notify you within 15 days after it receives your vehicle, the amount you have to pay will be limited to the cost of towing and storage.

As the owner, you have the right to retrieve personal items from your vehicle free of charge. If the storage operator doesn’t have regular business hours, they should allow you access at any time the lot is open for business. Keep in mind that if the police have directed against it, you might not be granted access.

Report A Complaint

Any concerns or complaints can be directed to the Ministry of Transportation. File a complaint if you have any issues with the:

  • Towing or vehicle storage services you receive
  • Conduct of the tow truck driver, tow operator, or vehicle storage service that provided services to you

When filing a complaint, be sure to include as much information about the event as possible, such as:

  • Date of the incident
  • Information about the driver or operator (CVOR number, tow driver certificate number, company name, driver name, etc)
  • Details of the event, such as the services provided
  • Supporting evidence (photos, towing consent forms, invoices, dashcam video, collision reports, etc)

If you have questions about customer rights under the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, you can contact:

Ministry of Transportation

Commercial Safety and Compliance Branch

301 St. Paul Street, 3rd floor

St. Catharines, Ontario

L2R 7R4

Tel: 416-246-7166

Toll-free: 1-800-387-7736 (within Ontario)

Email: [email protected]



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