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Urban Forestry
Arborist Unit
Landscape Architect Unit
Field Operations Unit
206-684-TREE (8733)
Free Street Trees
Street Tree Planting Procedures
Urban Forestry Permits
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Tree Pruning Guide
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Urban Forestry Permits

Urban forestry permits are issued for tree planting, tree pruning, tree removal/replacement in the public right of way. Permit requirements are based on specific site conditions and individual tree species. SDOT arborists review applications to ensure the health, preservation, and expansion of Seattle’s urban forest. For more information, visit SDOT Urban Forestry Arborist Office or call 206-684-TREE (8733).

Do you need a permit?

Yes. You probably do need a permit if your proposed work involves planting (type 1A) or removing/replacing (type 1C) a tree. If you are applying for a tree pruning permit (type 1B), if the work includes pruning branches or roots that are larger than 2 inches or greater, a permit is required. 

There are four Urban Forestry permit types with separate permit requirements. See the table below:

Permit Use Code

Permit required?

Site Plan Required?

Pruning Plan?

Certified Arborist required?

Other Permit Considerations

1A Planting

Yes

Yes

No

No

-Use the SDOT Approved Tree List
-Mobility Impacts

1B Pruning

Yes, For Major Pruning – 2 inches or greater, branches or roots.

Yes, if there are mobility impacts

Yes

Yes

-Mobility Impacts

IC Removal

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

- Requires professional evaluation
 - Requires a tree removal notice
-Replacement requirement determination by SDOT
-Mobility Impacts

1D Unimproved right-of-way

Yes, Pruning, removal, maintenance in unopened right-of-way

Yes

Yes

Yes, if major pruning or removing trees

Requires deposit

 

 *Mobility impacts are any impediment to free travel on the City’s rights-of-way. This includes pedestrians, bicycle travel, and vehicle travel. If there are mobility impacts with your project, these need to be described in full on your permit application. Depending on the location, extent of your work and the timing of your permit activities, a traffic control plan may be required. 

Urban Forestry, along with SDOT Street Use, has adopted new Permit Application Forms.

Download the new Urban Forestry Permit Application Form (includes the Street Use General Application, which is also required with your application submission)
Please print and fill out this application and return to us at:

Seattle Department of Transportation
City Arborist's Office
Seattle Municipal Tower
PO Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124-4996

(A black and white printer setting may be preferred to save color printer ink.)

Or, you may fill out your application, scan it and email it to us via: Seattle.Trees@seattle.gov

Usually the wait time for a permit is 5 to 7 work days from our receipt of your completed application.

Other permitting details:

Approved permits will include site-specific requirements and best management practices (BMPs) that must be followed for the duration of the project.

Your approved permit must be maintained at the work site at all times.

Tree Planting: See our tree planting procedures web page. If you are planting a tree in the planting strip, you will need to choose a tree from our approved planting list and follow the details on the linked page.

Tree Pruning: See our tree pruning web page. There are tree pruning guides in 7 languages offering the best practices for tree maintenance.

Tree Removal and Replacement:  Street Trees must be protected and preserved unless the permit application for the removal and replacement has been approved. Exceptions to this requirement are allowed for emergency removal necessary for public safety. City of Seattle policy may require monetary compensation and/or a replacement for every tree permitted for removal. Tree replacement is required, as site conditions allow, using the same or similar species that provides the same level of tree canopy at maturity. 
The permit application for a removal requires a professional Tree Risk Evaluation and the tree is:

  •  If the street tree is determined to be dead, or
  •  If the tree is determined to be a hazardous tree, or
  • If the tree is a public safety hazard, or
  • If public or private construction related activities will negatively impact the viability of the tree to the extent that it is unlikely to survive.

Contact the Arborist’s Office for more information or if you have questions.  Seattle.Trees@seattle.gov or 206-684-TREE(8733).

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