Towing Instructions and Info

Information
A car hooked up to a tow truck.
Information on how to find and retrieve your towed vehicle in the City of Portland.
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Was Your Vehicle Towed?

The Portland Police Bureau has partnered with AutoReturn to help speed up the process of finding your vehicle and getting back on the road.

Logo for AutoReturn website

Step 1:  Search the AutoReturn website to find if your vehicle has been towed and where it is currently located.

Search for your Vehicle

Step 2: Follow the Obtaining your Towed Vehicle Instructions below.

Vehicles with Investigative Holds

If your vehicle has an investigative hold on it, the vehicle will not show up in AutoReturn and you will need to contact the investigative unit that placed the hold on your vehicle.

Contact Police Records at 503-823-0044 for a referral to the correct investigative unit.

Police Records will not have any further information about your vehicle or the circumstances of the hold.

Subject to Lien

Vehicles will be subject to lien if not claimed within 3 days after the first day of storage.


COVID-19 Update: 

Out of a concern for the health of our community and to limit exposure, the Portland Police Bureau is changing the way it releases vehicles after a vehicle was ordered to be towed by PPB.

Vehicle owners will need to email:Tow@portlandoregon.gov any documents needed for a vehicle release (see administrative release requirements below).

Our public counter at the Justice Center remains closed. If you do not have access to a computer (including library, family/friends, etc.) or need special accommodations, you will need to call PPB Records to make an appointment at 503-823-0044, Mon-Fri, 10:00am – 4:00pm.Drop in requests may not be honored as staff may not be available to assist you.


Obtaining Your Towed Vehicle

Please Read Carefully:  If you do not follow these steps, you will be refused service. 

You must: 

  • Provide valid, current identification with signature and photo (such as a valid driver’s license).  
  • Proof of ownership. Towed vehicles will only be released to the person whose name currently appears on the DMV records or can provide proof as outlined in Right to Possession (below).
  • Proof of operator’s license. You must present a VALID operator’s license. (If you live in another state but have had your Oregon driving privileges suspended or revoked, SEE NEXT)
  • If you do not have a valid operator’s license, you must have a companion with a valid operator’s license. This companion will need to be present at the tow lot to drive the vehicle.
  • All documents will be emailed to the following email: Tow@portlandoregon.gov

Insurance:

If your vehicle was towed because you didn’t have liability insurance, in addition to the above requirements, you must email the following to: Tow@portlandoregon.gov

  • A motor vehicle liability insurance policy on the impounded vehicle; or
  • A bond approved by a judge of a court of record in this state; or
  • A deposit with the State Treasurer; or
  • A self-insurance certificate issued by Oregon DMV.

Proof of insurance must include:

  • Register owner’s name;
  • Name of Insurance company;
  • Effective dates of the policy; and
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) of the impounded vehicle.

RIGHT TO POSSESSION (OWNERSHIP)

Police Bureau policy is that vehicles may be released to the following individuals with a valid driver's license, or photo/signature identification with a licensed driver present.

  • The victim or reporting party of a recovered stolen vehicle.
  • The registered owner.
  • The legal owner/lien holder with an Affidavit of Repossession Claiming Title/Hold Harmless, NOTARIZED.
  • The bearer of a Transfer title receipt from DMV.
  • The bearer of a title which has been signed off for no more than 30 days.
    • NOTE:  If any of the following apply the bearer must take the title/paperwork to DMV prior to obtaining the release form:
      • The title has been signed off SINCE the date of the tow;
      • The title has been signed off for more than 30 days;
      • The title has been signed off more than once;
  • The bearer of a NOTARIZED statement from the registered owner authorizing the release of the vehicle to them.
  • The bearer of a NOTARIZED bill of sale from a private party that is dated no more than 30 days.
  • The bearer of a bill of sale from a car dealership. The bill of sale must be on dealership paper (contract) and less than 60 days old. Exceptions may apply due to DMV processing lag time.
  • The bearer of a Hold Harmless Agreement signed by the registered owner that is incarcerated and WITNESSED by a correction's officer.
  • The bearer of a Hold Harmless Agreement signed by the registered owner that is hospitalized and WITNESSED by a doctor or registered nurse.
  • The bearer of a death certificate for the deceased R/O and NOTARIZED Will or Letter of Administration or a Power of Attorney conveying ownership of property. In the event that there is no will or other legal documentation, refer the customer to DMV.
  • A tow company presenting a surrendered title does not need to obtain a release. A surrendered title is considered, "taking ownership" of the vehicle.  They do not need to register the vehicle. The tow company must upload the surrendered title into AutoReturn and send us a notification so we can lift the hold and cancel the tow entry.
  • The bearer of an out of state title that has been signed off will be told that we will accept it one time, but they will need to go to DMV and have vehicle registered to them. 
  • The bearer of a salvaged title that has been signed off will be told that we will accept it one time, but they will need to go to DMV and have vehicle registered to them. 
  • If a claimant had a hold on their vehicle and the investigator lifts the hold and releases the vehicle to a specific person, no proof of ownership is needed.  They will only need appropriate identification.
  • If the vehicle is owned by a business, the employee obtaining the release will need to provide a business card or letter (on the business letterhead) giving them permission to act on behalf of the business.
  • Vehicles being claimed by a car dealership must be flagged to the dealership in Oregon DMV or provide dealership paperwork regarding the purchase of the vehicle.
  • NOTE:  If the claimant appears to be intoxicated (their physical or mental facilities are adversely affected to a noticeable or perceptible degree) the claimant may obtain a release if they have provided proof of identity, right to possession of the vehicle, and they will also need to:
    • Be accompanied by a (sober) companion with a valid driver's license to drive the vehicle or
    • Be accompanied by a tow truck operator with a valid driver's license to tow the vehicle

NOTE: If the vehicle is owned by a business and they request the impounded vehicle released to a third-party tower, we will need the request emailed to us on letterhead with the name of the third-party towing company.  Our release instructions will state *TOW ONLY* with the company name of the third-party tower.

OPERATOR'S LICENSE/LICENSED DRIVER

  • Motorcycle Endorsement – If the owner of a motorcycle is obtaining a vehicle release for their motorcycle, their driver's license must have a motorcycle endorsement or:

A companion with a valid driver's license and motorcycle endorsement to drive the motorcycle.

A tow truck operator with a valid driver's license to tow the motorcycle

  • Provisional License – A provisional license is accepted the same as a valid driver's license. 
  • Foreign Driver's License - A person presenting a driver's license from their country of origin (and that country is in the Geneva Convention) can legally drive in the United States for 1 year.  After 1 year they have to get an Oregon license.
  • Implied Consent Form – The YES box must have been checked by the officer to indicate the person is eligible for temporary permit for driving privileges.

Other license restrictions may apply such as a CDL requirement.


Guild’s Lake Storage Facility

Vehicles towed to Guild’s Lake which have past the statutory limit of eligibility for release will be scheduled for demolition and no release will be issued.

  • Community Caretaking Recreational Vehicle tows are required to be held for 60 days before destruction.
  • Abandoned tows are eligible for destruction after 30 days

To inquire about obtaining property from a vehicle stored at Guild’s Lake, contact:

Rapid Response
503-387-1336

Derelict RV Towing Program Coordinator
503-823-5816


Tow Appeal Hearing Request

You may request a hearing to contest the validity of this tow. To request a hearing, you must submit a Tow Hearing Request Form. You may obtain this form in person at the Hearings Office or online.

The hearing request must be received by the Tow Hearings Officer no later than 10 days after the vehicle was towed.

Send hearing request to:

Tow Hearings Office
1900 SW 4th
Avenue, Room 3100
Portland, OR 97201
Phone 503-823-7307
Fax 503-823-4347

Any owner of a vehicle towed by the City of Portland or Tri-Met may request a hearing to contest the tow. To ask for a hearing, you must complete and submit a Tow Hearing Request Form. Forms may be obtained at the Hearings Office or online.

The request must be received by the Tow Hearings Office within ten days of the tow. Hearings are not available for vehicles towed for unpaid parking tickets.

Send hearing request to:

Tow Hearings Office
1900 SW 4th
Avenue, Room 3100
Portland, OR 97201
Phone 503-823-7307
Fax 503-823-4347

Location