Who must be registered? Montgomery County Code, Ch. 31A. Motor Vehicle Repair and Towing requires that merchants engaged in motor vehicle repair, maintenance or towing in Montgomery County be registered. A mobile mechanic or a mobile repair business must have a Certificate of Registration on their person at all times when they are engaged in repair and installation activities.
What is the process? The registration process is managed by the Licensing & Registration Unit of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP). The process includes completion of an Application for Certificate of Registration for Motor Vehicle Maintenance Repairs and Towing and payment of a fee. New certificates are issued for one (1) year, and are thereafter renewed every three (3) years. The registration fee schedule is based upon the applicant's number of mechanical employees and/or tow trucks. Click here for the fee schedule.
To register, applicants are required to provide OCP with the following documents:
Once you have been approved, you should post an OCP approved sign at your place of business. The sign describes county law regarding written estimates and should be posted in shops. The cost of the sign is $20.00 payable by check to Montgomery County, Maryland. Please call our Licensing & Registration Unit to schedule an appointment for pick-up.
Is there a penalty for failing to register? Anyone engaged in the business of motor vehicle repair, maintenance or towing without having first registered with the County is subject to a class A violation. Each violation is subject to a $500.00 civil fine.
For additional information, please contact the Licensing & Registration Unit at 240.777.3718.
The Office of Consumer Protection registers motor vehicle repair, maintenance and towing companies. You can obtain our on-line fillable applications here:
To download the files you MUST have Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 7) installed on your system. If necessary you may download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader here.
To view the fee schedule, click here>> Fee Schedule
Mail the completed application and check or money order (cash is not accepted) payable to “ Montgomery County Government” to:
Office of Consumer Protection
Licensing & Registration Unit
100 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330
Rockville, MD 20850
Initial certificates are valid for one (1) year. Certificates are renewable upon application for a period of three (3) years.
Any person, firm or corporation that engages in the business or trade of repairing or maintaining motor vehicles or towing motor vehicles without first registering with the County is subject to a $500.00 Civil Citation and an Order for Abatement. Failure to comply with the Order is subject to contempt proceedings.
In addition to the registration requirement, Montgomery County law places certain obligations on motor vehicle repair and maintenance facilities. Many of the fundamental requirements of the consumer laws governing the automobile repair industry foster communication and consumer trust. Complying with these laws will increase the trust consumers have in you and avoid potential problems.
For your reference, copies of the county and state automobile repair acts, which govern repairs in the county, are available at County Code. Although many shops are familiar with these laws, review is always helpful. In addition, we have highlighted key provisions of these and other applicable laws below.
Trespass Towing: In order to tow in Montgomery County, Chapter 31A of the County Code requires that you register with the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. This registration process applies to trespass, police and consumer requested towing.
A key provision of the registration process requires tow companies to provide a certificate of insurance. A company cannot be registered without this proof. In addition to the registration requirements, trespass towing and immobilization services are regulated by OCP under Chapter 30C.
Police requested tow services are regulated by Montgomery County Police Department and, other than the registration requirement, consumer requested tow services are unregulated. For your reference, a link to the county code that governs towing, is available at County Code. Below, we have highlight some key provisions of the trespass towing and immobilization laws.
Property owner must have a written contract with the tow company before the towing begins. The property owner must keep the contract on file. The Office of Consumer Protection and the Police Department can inspect the contract to make sure it is in compliance with Code.
Vehicles cannot be blocked in order to collect a fee. Vehicles must be raised at least six inches off the ground to collect a drop fee, which is one half the current hook-up rate (see rate regulation).
Each driver must have a valid driver's license.
Signs : This is where many violations will occur. The property owner must post signs at least 24 hours before towing commences. The signs must be at each and every entrance and must be clearly readable from each property area and each vehicle entrance at all times. The following requirements must also be followed:
OCP provides signs for a limited fee for use by property owners.
Tow procedures: The tow company must obtain specific authorization for each and every vehicle that is towed between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m . Between the hours of 2 a.m. and 9 a.m , the tow company may tow without obtaining authorization. The property owner or the tow company must retain documentation of who authorized each tow. Authorization can be on signed tow slips or in a log. OCP, police and owner may inspect and copy authorization slips/logs.
Notice to police: The towing service must notify the police with the name of the tow service, a description of the vehicle--including model, color, year, and the registration plate of the vehicle, the address where it was towed from, the time the vehicle was towed and the address where the vehicle will be stored. This notification must be done before the towed vehicle leaves the lot from which it was towed. This is to prevent unnecessary stolen reports being written. A second notice to the police is required after the vehicle has been in the tower's possession for 72 hours.
Handicap vehicle owners: A towing service may not under any circumstances tow a vehicle with a valid handicap registration plate or disabled permit, unless a police officer authorizes the tow or the vehicle is blocking is clearly marked fire lane or access to another vehicle, the property or a building. (30C-6).
Each trespass towing service must display at the redemption area a copy of the current rates and a statement that these rates do not exceed the rates on file with the Office of Consumer Protection. Each towing service must also display a sign furnished by us. The receipt should reflect the amount paid to redeem the vehicle. Note: A tow service must give a receipt even for a drop fee.
Redemption and storage: Complaints arise at the redemption and storage area. The storage site must not be more than 12 miles from the origin of the tow. All storage sites must be located in Montgomery County . The storage site must be brightly lit at all times. The storage site must remain open for redemption of vehicles at least two hours after the completion of the last tow.
Payment: Many disputes occur because of payments. If the vehicle is registered in the State of Maryland and the tow service accepts checks, then it must accept a personal check from that owner with proper identification. If the tow service accepts credit cards, it must accept a signed credit card regardless of where the vehicle is registered. Our Executive Regulation defines the two most widely used credit cards as Visa and MasterCard. The tow company's license file in the Office of Consumer Protection reflects whether they accept checks, credit cards or both for trespass tows.
Other: Towing companies should be aware that there are other types of tows: (police, consumer requested, and repossessions) that may also be regulated by other county and state laws. For information on Police tows, please visit Montgomery County Police Department, Abandoned Vehicle Section.