Parking and towing

Regulated parking

Parking on roads and in regulated parking areas is controlled and enforced by local governments. Parking conditions are also enforced by the Queensland Police Service.

You must obey an official sign or line marking telling you how to park on a road or in a regulated parking area.

Signs indicate where you can and cannot park and any conditions or restrictions that apply to parking.

  • Time limits - the letter P alone means there is no time limit. You can park any time for any length of time. If there is a time limit, it is shown by the number in front of the P. For example, 2P means two-hour parking. The sign may also show the times and days when this time limit applies.
  • Vehicle restrictions - signs also state the types of vehicles that may or may not be parked in an area. For example heavy vehicles may be restricted, or only motorcycles may be allowed to park in the area, or only vehicles displaying an Australian disability parking permit may be allowed to park in the area.
  • Exemptions - certain vehicles, such as those belonging to local residents, may be excluded from a sign’s parking restrictions. Any exceptions are shown on the sign.
  • No parking – these signs mean you cannot park in this area at any time. You may stop only to pick up or set down passengers or goods for a maximum of two minutes unless the sign allows a longer time.

Where parking spaces are marked on the road or in the regulated parking area, you must not take up more than a single space, unless your vehicle is longer than the length of space.

Unregulated parking

Parking in unregulated parking areas, such as in shopping centre carparks or in private carparks for entertainment or hospitality businesses, is controlled by the owner or occupier of the parking area. The owner or occupier can choose whether to apply and enforce parking conditions in their parking areas. This may include towing unauthorised vehicles from the carpark or the property owner or occupier may enter into an arrangement with local government for their officers to enforce parking in the area.

Private property parking and towing can be complex and confusing for motorists, private property owners and occupiers and towing operators. It’s important to remember:

  • Motorists have no general right to park in private carparks. If you park somewhere you are not authorised to park your vehicle may be towed. For more information about private property parking and towing for motorists, see the Information for motorists fact sheet.
  • Private property owners and occupiers who want to enforce parking conditions by towing must ensure they have a legal basis to remove unauthorised vehicles from their parking area. If you want to remove unauthorised vehicles from your carpark carefully consider your legal obligations. For more information about private property parking and towing for owners and occupiers, see the Information for private property owners and occupiers fact sheet and the Signage Guidelines for parking on private property.
  • Private property owners and occupiers who have entered into an arrangement with local government have given authority for local government officers to issue infringement notices to anyone who parks contrary to any signs or road markings such as parking in a space displaying the international symbol of access without displaying a disability parking permit.
  • Towing operators who remove vehicles from private property must have authority from the owner or occupier to tow vehicles from the property. If you perform private property towing ensure your business practices meet the legal requirements. For more information about private property parking and towing for towing operators, see the Information for tow truck licence holders fact sheet.

Private property parking and towing

Having your vehicle towed when you leave it parked somewhere can be very inconvenient, especially when you return to it late at night.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads regulate tow truck operators who conduct private property towing under the tow truck licensing scheme. The scheme requires private property towing to be conducted by accredited tow truck drivers using licensed tow trucks. Tow truck drivers and assistants must be employed by tow truck licence holders.  

Tow truck drivers must take reasonable steps to locate a vehicle owner or driver before towing the vehicle. Reasonable steps includes, for example, asking other people (at the carpark or nearby shops) if they know where the driver went; looking around the immediate area to see if the driver is nearby or approaching the carpark; looking for contact or business name details on the vehicle.

Tow truck drivers must carry a Towing Consent which represents an arrangement between the property owner or occupier and the tow truck licence holder, authorising them to tow vehicles parked on the property. 

If you return to your car and it is in the process of being loaded onto a tow truck, the driver should release it to you at no charge. If the car is already loaded and secured ready for towing they should release the car if you pay them the on-site release fee. 

You are entitled to ask the driver to show you the Towing Consent.

If you think your vehicle has been towed from a private property parking area you should contact the towing operator using the details on the signs at the parking area, or contact the Queensland Police Service via PoliceLink on 131 444 to find out where your vehicle has been towed.

Towing destination

A vehicle towed from private property must be taken to the licence holders nearest holding yard. 

Costs and fees

The maximum charges for private parking towing are regulated by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Note: Call-out fees and other fees such as for taking steps to locate the owner, travelling to the place where the vehicle is located, allowing the vehicle owner access to the vehicle at the holding yard (within business hours) and other incidental fees cannot be charged.

Towing industry investigation

On 14 May 2017 the Queensland Government announced an independent investigation into the removal of parked vehicles from publicly accessible private carparks and roads by tow truck operators.

The Queensland Government publicly released the independent investigation report on 6 August 2017 and the Government’s response on 8 August 2017. You can read the:

All 22 recommendations made by the independent investigation were accepted.  The changes were endorsed by the Queensland Parliament for commencement 16 April 2018.

Tow truck hotline

If you want to provide feedback about towing practices you can call the tow truck hotline on 1800 681 636.

Find more information about tow truck charges and legislation requirements.