Regulations

Do I Need a Permit?

Within the City of Seattle, removing, planting, or pruning a tree may be regulated depending on a number of factors such as the zoning of your property, if your property is in an Environmentally Critical Area, if you are building an addition or new construction, or if you have any trees over 6” in diameter.

The Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) administers and enforces regulations related to private property and development that affects trees. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) regulates trees in the street rights-of-way. 

What is an Environmentally Critical Area (ECA)?


1) Private trees in environmentally critical areas (ECAs)

SDCI PERMIT REQUIRED

  • You cannot remove any trees or vegetation from environmentally critical areas, such as steep slopes, wildlife habitat, and wetlands, without a Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration approval from SDCI
  • Tree removal allowed if removal is part of an issued building or grading permit
  • Environmentally Critical Areas and trees

2) Street Trees outside of environmentally critical areas

SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED

  • Under Seattle ordinance  #124166, you must obtain a permit from SDOT before removing any tree on a City right-of-way
  • To apply for a removal permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)

3) Private Trees outside of environmentally critical areas

SDCI PERMIT MAY BE REQUIRED

  • In general, you cannot remove exceptional trees (exceptional trees are trees that are of significant size or have historical or ecological value) or cut down more than 3 non-exceptional trees 6’’ or greater in diameter each year unless they are determined to be hazardous through a hazard tree assessment by a certified tree risk professional (see TIP 242 for details)
  • Tree Protection
  • Hazard tree removal application

1) Private trees in environmentally critical areas(ECAs)

SDCI PERMIT MAY BE REQUIRED

2) Street Trees outside of environmentally critical areas

SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED

  • Seattle City Ordinance #124166 requires that all persons who prune privately maintained trees within the public right-of-way area obtain a street use permit
  • To apply for a pruning permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)
  • SDOT tree pruning guide

3) Private Trees outside of environmentally critcal areas

NO PERMIT REQUIRED

4) Private Property

1) Street trees

SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED

  • You must obtain a street use permit from SDOT before planting a tree along the street
  • Fruit trees, big leaf maples, cottonwoods, and Lombardy poplar trees are explicitly prohibited as street trees
  • To apply for a street tree planting permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)
  • Free trees

2) Private trees

NO PERMIT REQUIRED

1) Private property

  • Seattle's Green Factor is a score-based code requirement that increases the amount of and improves the quality of landscaping when new development is designed and built.
  • Seattle's Green Factor

Questions?

On private property: Contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 684-8850

On right-of-way property (along the street): Contact the Seattle Department of Transportation at (206) 684-TREE (8733)

On parks property: Contact Seattle Parks and Recreation at (206) 684-4113

Click here for questions about illegal cutting and removal