Tree Removal

What Is It?

Our Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) limits the number, size, and type of trees that may be removed from your property. We regulate the removal of trees because they are important for human and environmental health.

If you are developing a project in a neighborhood residential, low-rise, mid-rise, or commercial zone, you must follow the tree protection regulations in Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 25.11, Tree Protection.  See our Tree Protection Code for more information.

Do You Need a Permit?

Our tree removal permit requirements vary based on location and are summarized below. In general, if your tree is exceptional, in an environmentally critical area (ECA), on undeveloped land, or if you want to remove more than three trees in any one year period, you need SDCI approval (a permit) to remove it.

  • Undeveloped Land
    On undeveloped land outside of an ECA, you must get SDCI's approval (a permit) to remove trees 6 inches in diameter or greater. On undeveloped land in an ECA, all tree removal requires a permit. If you require a permit to remove a tree on undeveloped land, we will only allow it if the tree is found to be hazardous.
  • Developed Land
    On developed land in all neighborhood residential, low-rise, mid-rise, and commercial zones, you do not need SDCI's approval (a permit) to remove a tree unless the tree is exceptional, it is in an ECA (see our GIS map), or you are removing more than three (3) trees in any one year period that are 6-inches or greater in diameter.

Note: Measurement of tree diameter is taken at 4.5 feet above the ground.

To learn more about what permits you'll need when removing trees watch our video.

How Much Does It Cost?

We charge one hour at the land use review rate when you apply. If it takes us more than an hour to review your application, we will charge for the additional time spent on your request. All fees are subject to an additional technology fee. See our Fee Subtitle for details.

How Long Does It Take?

We try to finish the initial review within two weeks.

How long it takes to get the final approval depends on how complex your project is and how many corrections, if any, you need to make.

Steps to Get Your Approval

Research your tree. Determine if you need a permit based on the criteria above. If you do need approval, before submitting your application you need to determine if your tree is exceptional or is in an environmentally critical area.

Ask our experts. If you have questions about the removal application process for trees and ECA vegetation restoration approvals, send us a question through our Building or Land Use Q&A tool.

Start your application. If you do need an approval to remove your tree, we'll only approve a hazardous tree removal outside of the development process. Complete our Hazardous Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration Approval Request online using the Seattle Services Portal.

To learn more about what permits you'll need when removing trees watch our video.

The following forms are required with your application.

Pay fees. We will notify you if you need to pay any final fees before we issue your approval or denial.

Print your results letter. Your results letter will be available in the Seattle Services Portal after you pay your fees.

You don't need an inspection unless it is specifically noted on your approval.

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
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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.