Trees & Codes

See also: Tree & Vegetation RemovalGreen Factor

What Is It?

The City of Seattle is committed to protecting our valuable urban canopy. Canopy cover is one important measure of the health of the urban forest. Urban trees provide numerous ecological, economic, and social benefits, including wildlife habitat, neighborhood livability, and improved public health outcomes. Maintaining our urban forest is a cooperative effort between property owners, developers, neighbors, and the City. Seattle’s Tree Protection Code, Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 25.11, limits the number, size, and type of trees that may be removed from private property. These regulations help protect our urban forest.

This webpage contains information to help you understand Seattle’s tree regulations and provides resources and contact information related to trees, tree protection, and tree maintenance. Also, check out this video presentation about New Tree Protection Code and Regulations Information.

Our tree protection requirements vary based on the size (tree tier), species, whether there is construction occurring or proposed on the lot, and the zoning of the property. Certain trees are protected and may not be removed unless specific requirements are met. If you unlawfully remove a tree, the penalties can be expensive.

Additional requirements may apply within environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and the Shoreline District. Tree removal within the Shoreline District is evaluated through a Shoreline Exemption record. You can find out whether or not your property contains an environmentally critical area or is located within the Shoreline District on our GIS map.  

While tree removal is generally prohibited when no development is proposed, the tree protection regulations have a number of exemptions and allowances for tree removal. Please note, in most cases even if tree removal is allowed, requirements for SDCI review, tree replacement, SDCI’s Tree Service Provider Registry, and tree public noticing still apply. If you are planning a construction project and your site contains large trees, please contact SDCI early to understand the protection requirements or opportunities for removal if certain conditions exist on your lot. 

There are a series of Tips related to Seattle’s tree regulations that provide more detailed information and guidance about specific regulations for property owners and tree service providers. So far these include:

In addition, you should also be familiar with any associated Director’s Rules that support the Tree codes. So far these include:

    Tree Service Provider Registry

    The Tree Service Provider Registry is an online database of registered tree service providers, that meet the City’s criteria to conduct most tree work in Seattle and are committed to understanding and following Seattle’s tree regulations. The tree service registry was established on August 26, 2022. To see the list of approved Tree Service Providers, please visit the Tree Service Provider Directory.

    All tree service providers doing the following type of commercial work defined in SMC 25.11.130 in Seattle in exchange for financial compensation must be registered with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI):

    • Reportable work includes:
      • The removal of live branches 4 inches in diameter or greater
      • Pruning, or the removal of live roots 2 inches in diameter or greater
      • Removal of live branches constituting 25 percent or more of a tree’s foliage-bearing area
      • Pruning of trees cultivated for fruit production and maintenance of hedges is not reportable work 
    • Removal of any Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4 tree
    • Consulting Services: The assessment of the health or hazard risk of any Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4 tree (trees 6 inches DSH or greater) 

    Property owners who use a commercial tree service provider for commercial tree work must use a registered tree service provider from this registry. The registered tree service provider will create a public notice that is posted to the SDCI website at least three full business days before any reportable work is done or six full business days prior to any tree removal work and post this notice on-site while the work is occurring. Providers are encouraged to keep the posting on-site for five days afterwards. Tree service providers who are not registered with SDCI cannot do commercial tree work in Seattle and may face penalties if they conduct work in Seattle without an approved registration. 

    Please note that you do not need to be registered to complete other routine pruning and maintenance on trees.

    Register Your Business

    Tree Service Providers can register for the City's Tree Service Provider Registry on the Seattle Services Portal Tree webpage. As part of the registration process, you can register for either or both the SDCI Tree Service Provider Registry for commercial tree work on private property, or for the SDOT Tree Service Provider Registry for work in the public right-of-way. It will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete the Registry application. If you have questions regarding the registration process, please consult the step-by-step instructions on How To Apply for the Tree Service Provider Registry. For further assistance, email us at sdci-trees@seattle.gov or contact us through our Submit a Request form. To help route your request, indicate that you need help with “Permits, codes, zones, plans,” then select “Land Use” as the type of help you need, and then select “Trees” in the description field. Customers may also contact us at (206) 233-5185 if you have questions. 

    Free Interpretation Assistance

    The City of Seattle offers free interpretation in your preferred language. Call (206) 684-8733 to learn about the City of Seattle’s tree codes on private and public property, including tree service provider registration program or registry requirements and application process. When you call, tell our staff your preferred language, to arrange for free assistance in that language.

    ከ ክፍያ ነጻ የሚቀርብ የትርጉም እገዛ

    የሴያትል ከተማ እርሶ በሚመርጡት ቋንቋ ከክፍያ ነጻ የትርጉም አገልግሎት ያቀርባል። የዛፍ አገልግሎት ሰጪ የምዝገባ ፕሮግራምን ወይም የመመዝገቢያ መስፈርቶችን እና የማመልከቻ ሂደትን ጨምሮ በግል እና በህዝብ ንብረት ላይ ስለ የሲያትል ከተማ የዛፍ ኮዶች ለማወቅ (206) 684-8733 ይደውሉ። ስልክ በሚደውሉበት ግዜ፣ በመረጡት ቋንቋ ነጻ የትርጉም አገልግሎት ለማቅረብ እንዲያስችለን፣ ለ ሰራተኛችንን የሚመርጡትን ቋንቋ ይንገሩት/ሯት።

    免費口譯協助

    西雅圖市政府以您要求的語言提供免費的口譯服務。請致電 (206) 684-8733,以了解西雅圖市私人和公共土地的樹木法規,包括樹木服務提供商註冊計畫或註冊要求和申請流程。當您致電時,請告訴我們的工作人員您要求的語言,以便安排以該語言提供免費協助。

    무료 통역 지원

    시애틀시는 귀하가 선호하는 언어로 무료 통역을 제공합니다. (206) 684-8733으로 전화하여 시애틀시의 사유지 및 공공 대지에 속하는 수목 관리에 관한 규정(code)에 대해 알아보십시오. 여기에는 수목 서비스 제공자 등록 프로그램 또는 등록 요건 및 신청 절차가 포함됩니다. 전화할 때 저희 직원에게 선호하는 언어를 알려주시면 해당 언어로 무료 지원을 제공해 드립니다.

    Kaalmo Turjumaad Bilaash ah

    Magaalada Seattle waxay bixisaa tarjumaad bilaash ah oo ah luuqadda aad doorbidayso. Wac (206) 684-8733 si aad wax uga ogaato sharciyada geedaha Magaalada Seattle ee hantida gaarka ah iyo hantida dadweynaha, oo ay ku jiraan barnaamijka diiwaangelinta adeeg bixiyaha geed ama shuruudaha diiwaangelinta iyo habka codsiga. Markaad soo wacdo, u sheeg shaqaalahayaga luqadda aad doorbidayso, si ay kuugu diyaariyaan caawimo bilaash ah oo luqaddaas ah.

    Servicios de interpretación gratuitos

    La ciudad de Seattle ofrece servicios de interpretación gratuitos en su idioma de preferencia. Llame al (206) 684-8733 para informarse sobre los códigos de árboles de la ciudad de Seattle en propiedad privada y pública, incluido el programa de registro de proveedores de servicio de árboles o los requisitos del registro y el proceso de solicitud. Cuando llame, indique a nuestro personal qué idioma prefiere para recibir asistencia gratuita en ese idioma.

    Libreng Tulong sa Interpretasyon

    Nag-aalok ang Lungsod ng Seattle ng libreng interpretasyon sa iyong gustong wika. Tumawag sa (206) 684-8733 upang malaman ang tungkol sa mga code ng puno ng Lungsod ng Seattle sa pribado at pampublikong propyedad, kabilang ang programa sa pagpaparehistro ng provider ng serbisyo ng puno o mga kinakailangan sa pagpapatala at proseso ng aplikasyon. Kapag tumawag ka, sabihin sa aming kawani ang iyong gustong wika, upang ayusin ang libreng tulong sa wikang iyon.

    Hỗ Trợ Phiên Dịch Miễn Phí

    Thành Phố Seattle cung cấp dịch vụ phiên dịch miễn phí bằng ngôn ngữ mà quý vị chọn. Gọi (206) 684-8733 để tìm hiểu về các quy định về cây xanh của Thành Phố Seattle trên bất động sản công và tư, bao gồm chương trình đăng ký nhà cung cấp dịch vụ cây xanh hoặc các yêu cầu đăng ký và quy trình nộp đơn. Khi gọi, xin quý vị vui lòng cho nhân viên biết ngôn ngữ của quý vị, để chúng tôi có thể sắp xếp hỗ trợ miễn phí bằng ngôn ngữ đó.

    Please note that you must maintain your registration requirements in good standing for the duration of your 1-year registry term.

    Once registered, Tree Service Providers must display on their commercial vehicles their SDCI tree service provider registration number, the name of the tree service provider business, and either a phone or email address. This information must be clearly displayed on the sides and rear of the commercial vehicle in at least 2-inch-tall letters.

    To revise an existing registration, please read How To Revise an Existing Tree Service Provider Registration for the step-by-step process.

    At the end of the one-year term, you will need to renew your registration. See How To Renew an Existing Tree Service Provider Registration for instructions.  

    What You’ll Need to Register Your Business

    • An active Seattle Services Portal account.
    • A current and valid City of Seattle business license. You will be asked to upload a copy of your business license.
    • A current and valid Washington State contractor registration under chapter 18.27 RCW (not required for businesses registering as consulting services only).
    • A current certificate of insurance (COI) with coverage of at least $1,000,000 Commercial General Liability Insurance and endorsement naming the City of Seattle as an additional insured on a primary and non-contributory basis for government permitting. The address listed on the COI should be as follows:


      City of Seattle
      P.O. Box. 94669
      Seattle, WA 98124-4669

      You will be asked to upload a copy of the certificate and the endorsement.

    • At least one employee or a person on retainer who is a currently credentialed International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist trained to conduct work according to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A-300 or its successor standard. You will be asked to upload a copy of the ISA Certification Card for each credentialed holder listed on your registry form. The card must include the credential holder’s name, certification number, and expiration date.
    • An understanding of City codes applicable to commercial tree work.

    Know the Code

    All Tree Service Providers must follow the tree code (SMC 25.11). Tree Service Providers who do not follow the tree code may be removed from the Tree Service Provider Registry for one year. Both the property owners and the tree service providers may face financial penalties for tree code violations. Contact SDCI arborists early in the design process for assistance in balancing tree protection and development.  

    Please also consult the Tree Service Provider Registry Requirements and How To Apply for the Tree Service Provider Registry articles and Tip 242C, SDCI Tree Service Provider Registry for more information.

    Tree Service Provider & Public Notice Webinar Recording (November 2022)

    Watch the recording of the SDCI webinar presented to tree service providers and property owners about Seattle’s tree code (SMC 25.11), the new SDCI public posting requirements, and SDCI’s new Tree Service Provider Registry. You'll also find information about how to sign up for the Tree Service Provider Registry.

    Tree Service Provider Registry Summary Flyer (August 2022)

    Tree Service Provider Requirements Summary Flyer (July 2022)

    Tree Public Notice Requirements

    Whether or not a permit or SDCI review is required, the Tree Service Provider must create and submit a tree public notice that is posted to the SDCI website at least 3 full business days prior to the start of any reportable work and 6 full business days prior to the start of removal of any tree 6 inches DSH or greater. The tree public notice is only required to be physically posted at the site during the time that commercial tree work is occurring and should remain in place for five days after the work is completed. A tree public notice is not required for consulting services.

    This notice is also required for trees removed as part of a tree and vegetation plan inside of environmentally critical areas or removal of hazardous trees. This notice is not required for trees removed by the owner of a property. SDCI authorization may be needed prior to work on those trees.

    Follow guidance in Tip 242D, Tree Public Notice for more information on tree public noticing.

    Create Your Public Notice

    When you hire a Tree Service Provider, the provider is required to create a public notice that is posted on SDCI’s website three full business days before conducting reportable work and six full business days prior to removal of any Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4 tree. You can create the public notice through the Seattle Services Portal Trees webpage. This form takes approximately 5 minutes and walks you through the steps required to create the SDCI Tree Public Notice. Once created, the notice is automatically posted to SDCI’s website. Tree service providers are responsible for accurately noticing the proposed tree work. SDCI does not review or approve tree public notices. Each address requires a separate tree public notice.

    Note: Our system needs a couple of days to generate and post the notice. To have the notice posted for the correct number of days, the date you enter must be 5 business days (not including today) before beginning reportable work and at least 8 business days (not including today) before any tree removal. You may not begin work before the date you enter.

    For example, if you submit your notice for reportable work on a Wednesday, the system will post the notice on Friday. You need the notice posted a minimum of three full business days before you start doing reportable work. In this example, the three business days would be Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. You could start work the following day, on Wednesday, a week from the day you submitted, or any day thereafter.

    For example, if you submit your notice for tree removal on a Wednesday, the system will post the notice on Friday. You need the notice posted a minimum of six full business days before you start doing tree removal work. In this example, the six business days would be Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You could start work the following day, on Saturday or any day thereafter.

    Once you’ve submitted the information, you will receive an email containing a link to the public notice; the Tree Service Provider is responsible for printing and posting the public notice at the site during the time that commercial tree work is occurring. The notice should remain in place for five days after the work is completed.

    Tree Service Providers must also display on their commercial vehicles their SDCI tree service provider registration number, the name of the tree service provider business, and either a phone or email address. This information must be clearly displayed on the sides and rear of the commercial vehicle in at least 2-inch-tall letters.

    If you have questions regarding completing the notice form, please follow the step-by-step instructions in our Tree Public Notice help article. For further assistance, you may email us at sdci-trees@seattle.gov or contact us through our Submit a Request form.

    To help route your request, indicate that you need help with “Permits, codes, zones, plans,” then select “Land Use” as the type of help you need, and then select “Trees” in the description field.  

    What You’ll Need to Create a Tree Public Notice

    • An active Seattle Services Portal account.
    • Work must be performed by a SDCI registered tree service provider. You will need to provide the full registration number (LIC-TSP-#####), which is available on the SDCI registered Tree Service Provider Directory.
    • A permit may be required for tree work associated with a project, such as a construction or demolition project. If tree work is part of your proposal, you will need to provide the permit number. (Note: a separate notice is needed for each address.)
    • Tree-specific information, including species, type of work to be performed, trunk size at diameter standard height (DSH), location, and if the tree is designated as an exceptional tree.

    View Tree Public Notices

    All tree public notices are available from the Seattle Services Portal Find Public Notices website.

    Know the Code 

    All Tree Service Providers must follow the tree code (SMC 25.11). Tree Service Providers who do not follow the tree code may be removed from the Tree Service Provider Registry for one year. Both the property owners and the tree service providers may face financial penalties for tree code violations. Contact SDCI arborists early in the design process for assistance in balancing tree protection and development.   

     Please consult SDCI Tip 242D, Tree Public Notice for more information. 

    We encourage all applicants, property owners, contractors, architects, developers, and arborists to reach out to us with any tree questions as early as possible when planning a project. We are here to answer questions early in the design process to determine which trees are protected by code and how to accommodate them. We can also answer questions about trees outside of the development process. Our on-staff certified arborists can answer questions about tree protection requirements, be a resource for tree-related information, and improve customer experience when trees are involved in any permit process.

    Contact Us

    The best way to contact our staff is via email at sdci-trees@seattle.gov or through SDCI’s Submit a Request form. To help route your request, indicate that you need help with “Permits, codes, zones, plans,” then select “Land Use” as the type of help you need, and then select “Trees” in the description field. If necessary, we can set up a virtual meeting to discuss potential or actual projects.

    Customers may also contact us at (206) 233-5185 if you have questions.

    Free Interpretation Assistance

    The City of Seattle offers free interpretation in your preferred language. Call (206) 684-8733 to learn about the City of Seattle’s tree codes on private and public property, including tree service provider registration program or registry requirements and application process. When you call, tell our staff your preferred language, to arrange for free assistance in that language.

    ከ ክፍያ ነጻ የሚቀርብ የትርጉም እገዛ

    የሴያትል ከተማ እርሶ በሚመርጡት ቋንቋ ከክፍያ ነጻ የትርጉም አገልግሎት ያቀርባል። የዛፍ አገልግሎት ሰጪ የምዝገባ ፕሮግራምን ወይም የመመዝገቢያ መስፈርቶችን እና የማመልከቻ ሂደትን ጨምሮ በግል እና በህዝብ ንብረት ላይ ስለ የሲያትል ከተማ የዛፍ ኮዶች ለማወቅ (206) 684-8733 ይደውሉ። ስልክ በሚደውሉበት ግዜ፣ በመረጡት ቋንቋ ነጻ የትርጉም አገልግሎት ለማቅረብ እንዲያስችለን፣ ለ ሰራተኛችንን የሚመርጡትን ቋንቋ ይንገሩት/ሯት።

    免費口譯協助

    西雅圖市政府以您要求的語言提供免費的口譯服務。請致電 (206) 684-8733,以了解西雅圖市私人和公共土地的樹木法規,包括樹木服務提供商註冊計畫或註冊要求和申請流程。當您致電時,請告訴我們的工作人員您要求的語言,以便安排以該語言提供免費協助。

    무료 통역 지원

    시애틀시는 귀하가 선호하는 언어로 무료 통역을 제공합니다. (206) 684-8733으로 전화하여 시애틀시의 사유지 및 공공 대지에 속하는 수목 관리에 관한 규정(code)에 대해 알아보십시오. 여기에는 수목 서비스 제공자 등록 프로그램 또는 등록 요건 및 신청 절차가 포함됩니다. 전화할 때 저희 직원에게 선호하는 언어를 알려주시면 해당 언어로 무료 지원을 제공해 드립니다.

    Kaalmo Turjumaad Bilaash ah

    Magaalada Seattle waxay bixisaa tarjumaad bilaash ah oo ah luuqadda aad doorbidayso. Wac (206) 684-8733 si aad wax uga ogaato sharciyada geedaha Magaalada Seattle ee hantida gaarka ah iyo hantida dadweynaha, oo ay ku jiraan barnaamijka diiwaangelinta adeeg bixiyaha geed ama shuruudaha diiwaangelinta iyo habka codsiga. Markaad soo wacdo, u sheeg shaqaalahayaga luqadda aad doorbidayso, si ay kuugu diyaariyaan caawimo bilaash ah oo luqaddaas ah.

    Servicios de interpretación gratuitos

    La ciudad de Seattle ofrece servicios de interpretación gratuitos en su idioma de preferencia. Llame al (206) 684-8733 para informarse sobre los códigos de árboles de la ciudad de Seattle en propiedad privada y pública, incluido el programa de registro de proveedores de servicio de árboles o los requisitos del registro y el proceso de solicitud. Cuando llame, indique a nuestro personal qué idioma prefiere para recibir asistencia gratuita en ese idioma.

    Libreng Tulong sa Interpretasyon

    Nag-aalok ang Lungsod ng Seattle ng libreng interpretasyon sa iyong gustong wika. Tumawag sa (206) 684-8733 upang malaman ang tungkol sa mga code ng puno ng Lungsod ng Seattle sa pribado at pampublikong propyedad, kabilang ang programa sa pagpaparehistro ng provider ng serbisyo ng puno o mga kinakailangan sa pagpapatala at proseso ng aplikasyon. Kapag tumawag ka, sabihin sa aming kawani ang iyong gustong wika, upang ayusin ang libreng tulong sa wikang iyon.

    Hỗ Trợ Phiên Dịch Miễn Phí

    Thành Phố Seattle cung cấp dịch vụ phiên dịch miễn phí bằng ngôn ngữ mà quý vị chọn. Gọi (206) 684-8733 để tìm hiểu về các quy định về cây xanh của Thành Phố Seattle trên bất động sản công và tư, bao gồm chương trình đăng ký nhà cung cấp dịch vụ cây xanh hoặc các yêu cầu đăng ký và quy trình nộp đơn. Khi gọi, xin quý vị vui lòng cho nhân viên biết ngôn ngữ của quý vị, để chúng tôi có thể sắp xếp hỗ trợ miễn phí bằng ngôn ngữ đó.

    Meet Our Arborists! 

    Paul Humphries has worked for the City of Seattle for 20 years and joined SDCI in September 2020. He is an ISA certified Arborist and Tree Risk Assessor, who is passionate about maintaining urban canopy and applying code to protect our beautiful city’s trees. Paul’s favorite tree is the Antarctic Beech. When he’s not at work, he can be found in the mountains hiking with his wife and their Great Dane or working in his garden.

    Deborah McGarry started her career in urban forestry in New York in 2000 and never looked back. She has been with the City of Seattle for 15 years, working on street trees, park trees, and, for the past 3 years, private property trees with SDCI. She fervently believes that we need trees to keep our city livable and that dense cities and healthy trees are compatible. When not working, she loves adventures with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, exploring nature, gardening, and reading. 

    Read the Code

    For more information on existing regulations, read:

    Other helpful resources include:

    Proposed Changes

    None at this time.

    Construction and Inspections

    Nathan Torgelson, Director
    Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
    Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
    Phone: (206) 684-8600
    Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
    Contact Us

    Newsletter Updates

    Subscribe

    Sign up for the latest updates from Construction and Inspections

    SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.