How to get a tree cutting license

How to Get a Tree Trimming License? Grow Your Career

Education and training options

An arborist with experience in the field and a degree may be able to get an ISA Certified Arborist credential after passing an exam. ISA Certification requirements aren't a requirement when starting a tree trimming business, however. You may be able to charge more for your services or offer specialized diagnostic and treatment options if you have an ISA Certified Arborist credential. 

Here are the requirements to qualify as a board-certified master arborist:

  • Bachelor's degree in related field plus one year of experience as an arborist or
  • Associate's degree in arboriculture and two years of experience as an arborist or
  • Minimum of three years of full-time experience as an arborist


  • Satisfactory performance on the ISA Arborist exam

Many community colleges have arborist programs available designed to teach you how to properly trim and care for trees. These programs typically take between one and two years to complete. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) offers many training opportunities, including Tree Care Academy. You can also get training in tree care safety, aerial rescue, and electrical hazards through TCIA. 

The American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) provides credentials for tree trimming experts that include damage assessment, tree preservation, and landscape planning that could help you increase the range of services offered through your tree care business. 

Tree trimming license requirements

Your city and state may require special tree trimming licenses before you can legally go into business. Utility companies may have their own set of additional requirements, as well. 

Wondering exactly how to get a tree trimming license?

In most cases, you can get a tree trimming license by applying for one in your geographical area. For example, professional tree trimmers in Broward County, Florida must provide the following with their application:

  • Proof of experience
  • Proof of training
  • Character references
  • Credit references
  • Business organization verification
  • Fictitious name
  • Certificate of insurance with a minimum of $300,000 of bodily injury and property damage coverage
  • Workers' compensation insurance proof
  • Two recent photos of the business owner/applicant
  • Copy of one form of picture identification
  • $230 non-refundable license fee

In California, you'll need a C-61 Limited Specialty license if you enter into a contract to work in any area of construction specialty for more than $500. Unless you work exclusively as a sub-contractor under a licensed General Contractor or a company with a C-27 Landscaping License, you must get the C-61 Limited Specialty License before you can perform tree maintenance and removal services in California. Here the requirements for the California C-61 license:

  • Must be 18+ years old
  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Not on parole or probation
  • Minimum of four years journey-level experience
  • Qualifying individual signs off on claims of experience
  • Proof of experience
  • Valid Driver's License or ID issued in the U.S. 

To learn more, contact your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office to find out how to get a tree service license in your area. 

Can you work without a license?

Depending on where you live and the location of the tree, you may be able to run your business without a tree trimming license. If you choose to run your business without a legally-required tree contractor license, you may have to pay steep fines. In some areas, your business could be shut down until you comply with local rules. 

In Maine, contractors advertising or performing tree trimming services, including taking down trees in developed areas of the state, installing bracing or cabling, leaving the ground to trim trees, or diagnosing the condition of trees is subject to a civil penalty of $500 per day for each day of the violation. Without the proper tree service business license, you could go out of business. 

Do I have to get a permit to remove trees for private property owners?

Every city and state has their own rules about permits, including which types of trees can be removed, and where you can plant new trees. So, it's crucial to become familiar with the rules in the area where your customers live. Permits to remove or trim trees aren't the same as a tree contractor license. 

For example, In Hartford, Connecticut, a homeowner can hire someone to remove a tree from their private property without getting a city permit.  In Jackson, Florida, you'll need a permit to remove a tree taller than four feet from private property. In Des Moines, Iowa, homeowners must care for trees and remove dead limbs that pose a potential hazard to parked cars and pedestrians on sidewalks. The city doesn't require a permit to do so.

Tree trimming insurance requirements

Caring for trees is a potentially dangerous job that requires business insurance to protect your equipment, workers, and your customer's property. General liability insurance protects your business from claims due to accidents. You may also need commercial vehicle insurance to meet your city's guidelines for businesses. Some states mandate minimum amounts of insurance for business vehicles, so be sure to get enough commercial auto insurance to meet those requirements. 


Knowing how to get a tree service license is the first step if you want to run a business that's in compliance with local laws and regulations. While it isn't necessary to have a tree service business license in many areas of the country, operating without one where it's required is risky. Talk with other contractors and sub-contractors in your area about what types of insurance they have and whether you may need additional licensing to trim trees.

How to Become a Licensed Tree Trimmer & Remover | Work

By Mary Dowd Updated January 25, 2021

Tree trimmers require expert skills to safely climb trees, operate power tools and work in an aerial bucket around power lines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the inherent dangers of being a tree trimmer. Occupational risks include falling from tall trees, sustaining impact injuries and being electrocuted, resulting in lost eyesight, broken bones, amputation of limbs or even death.

Licensing and voluntary certification helps ensure that tree trimmers are properly trained. Tree licensing and registration requirements vary from state to state. Most states do not require a license to perform routine tree care, but specialized services such as eliminating the emerald ash borer require a pesticide applicator license.

Obtain Tree Care Training

Look for opportunities to learn the tree trimming trade. Formal education requirements are minimal. In fact,O*Net OnLine reports that 57 percent of tree trimmer and pruners do not have a high school diploma. This skill is acquired through vocational instruction and on-the job training lasting up to one year.

Training courses are available through tree care organizations. For example, the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) offers materials for in-house tree-cutting schools. TCIA has instructional programs in English and Spanish geared toward beginning to advanced tree trimmers. Training starts with the tree-care orientation course that provides an overview of the arboricultural profession, worker safety, common hazards and injury prevention. Other classes cover use of equipment like pruners, chainsaws and stump grinders.

More advanced programs appeal to experienced tree trimmers interested in single-rope techniques (SRT) for tree climbing, aerial lift operations and supervising crews. Other ways of learning the job include securing an apprenticeship or finding a tree service operator willing to teach you how to use woodchippers, power saws, climbing equipment, hoist tools and truck booms.

Consider Tree-Trimming Certification

Although certification is not required by state law, consider the merits of obtaining a tree trimming or tree care credential. A voluntary credential shows dedication to the job. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), for example, is a recognized leader in the tree care industry offering voluntary credentials like the ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist credential.

Highly trained and experienced tree trimmers may be eligible to apply for a Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA) credential through the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). A certified arborist is an expert in tree care and tree preservation. They may work with an insurance company to assess damage to a tree after a fire or storm. Or they might recommend removal of damaged branches or treatment for insects if signs of infestation are detected.

Meet Tree-Climbing License Requirements

Research state and local licensing and registration requirements. Only seven states require a contractor license to climb, cut down and trim trees, according to the Institute for Justice. States identified include: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Louisiana and Rhode Island. Exceptions are generally made for small, single-owner businesses.

Some states like Minnesota require tree trimmers to be registered but not licensed. For example, individuals and businesses involved in tree-care activities are legally required to submit an application and pay a ​$25​ fee to be added to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Tree Trimmer Registry available to consumers. The MDA also indicates that tree trimmers should be bonded and carry liability insurance.

States like Florida do not require tree trimmers to hold a license. However, cities and counties in those states may require a local license to perform certain tree services. Hiring an unlicensed and uninsured handyman to remove fallen trees after a hurricane can result in the homeowner being sued if workers on their property are hurt or killed on the job, ABC Action News in Tampa Bay cautioned.

Tree Trimmer Salary and Outlook

Tree trimmers and pruners averaged ​$42,510​ per year, or ​$20.44​, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2019. Ten percent of these workers annually earned upwards of ​$62,390​, but 10 percent earned less than ​$26,450​. The BLS includes tree trimmers in the broader category of grounds maintenance workers, and this occupation will grow 10 percent between 2019 and 2029, according to BLS projections. Demand will be supported by urbanization and tree plantings to beautify communities.

Permission to cut down trees and bushes. Transplantation of green spaces in Moscow and Moscow Region

Planting green spaces within cities and towns, in suburban areas, in forests are subject to strict control by the Department of Environmental Management (DPiEP). If it is necessary to carry out work related to felling, replanting, compensatory restoration, crowning, the issue of obtaining a permit document becomes relevant. Any actions within departmental territories without its presence are classified as illegal.

The preservation of green spaces is of particular importance for the environment during construction, as uncontrolled destruction causes irreparable harm. The company "Promterra" provides services for conducting dendrological surveys and issuing permits for cutting down green spaces for construction, replanting work on a land plot or within forestry. Geography of work on engineering dendrology within the whole of Russia, including Moscow and the Moscow region

Permission for cutting green spaces during construction

Urban planning activities on a land plot involve solving the issue of trees and shrubs growing on it. According to the established norms, it is necessary to obtain a positive decision of the state examination. For this purpose, the drawn up dendrological plan, combined with the general construction plan (1:500), is sent to the Department of Natural Resources. Subsequent issuance of a logging ticket in this case is not required.

The regulation provides for mandatory notification of the city's executive authorities about the intentional cutting of trees and shrubs 10 days in advance. The contractor has the right to carry out work on the basis of obtaining a building permit. A prerequisite is the official payment of the compensation cost for causing harm. The full cost can be found in the DPiOOS.

A permit for felling trees in Moscow in the form of a felling ticket may be required if the construction project has passed an examination in a non-governmental organization or in a state institution that is under the department of a federal executive body. This applies to the construction and reconstruction of facilities.

Fundamentals of lawful felling of trees and shrubs

Land owners need to know the legal basis for their rights to replant and cut green spaces.

A permit is required in a number of the following cases:

  • land plot is leased;
  • no property rights to the plot;
  • trees are located on federal or municipal territory;
  • the site is located within the boundaries of a specially protected natural area.

If the rights to the land plot are established, this can be confirmed by relevant documents, then shrubs and trees are the property of the owner. He has the right to take any action necessary to him. In this case, you do not need to obtain permission to cut down green spaces.

Sanitary felling and its features

In the process of dendrological studies of the area, a decision may be made to carry out sanitary felling of emergency, windfall and transplant other categories of trees. In this case, issuance of a logging ticket is mandatory. A permit for cutting down dead wood must also be issued. It is prohibited by law to destroy dry trees for individual purposes and as a raw material for firewood.


There is an established procedure for issuing permits for felling green spaces, regardless of species. Detailed instructions can be found in Decree of the Government of Moscow dated September 10, 2002 N 743-PP "On approval of the Rules for the creation, maintenance and protection of green spaces in the city of Moscow."

According to the norms, it is necessary to prepare a package of documents:

  • application in the prescribed format;
  • dendrological plan and checklist;
  • an act of an expert opinion on the state of green spaces;
  • certificate of ownership of the land plot;
  • contract with contractors for logging operations.

Obtaining a permit for cutting down trees and shrubs depends on the area, the value of the plantations and the scale of their growth. This may be the Department of Nature Management in Moscow, Gosnadzor, departments of state administrations, the environmental service or special committees for nature protection.

A document for chopping work may not be received. The reason must be clearly stated. Issuance of permits for felling trees and shrubs is carried out within 30 days from the date of application.

Tree replanting and compensation payments

Booking, replanting, pruning of green spaces are carried out with permission and a justified reason for such actions. You can get permission from the DPiEP or other government agency. It indicates the address of the work, the number of transplanted copies, the validity period of the document.

If it is necessary to obtain a permit for logging for business or personal purposes (for firewood or repairing a house after a natural disaster), the procedure for considering the issue is similar. A cutting ticket is required. In some cases, when cutting forest land, compensatory planting of new seedlings is a mandatory requirement. This is a good and necessary practice for the restoration of the green fund, but it is not universally applied.

Registration of permits and logging tickets for different types of green spaces is one of the activities Promterra Company . Competent assistance in conducting dendrological research, drawing up a dendroplan and a package of initial documents for submission for examination in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Russian Federation.

Download documentation and templates for engineering dendrology

  • Power of Attorney for a Felling Ticket

  • Power of attorney for the delivery of a cutting ticket

  • Request for a logging ticket

  • Deadwood Felling Order Request

  • Inventory sheet

  • Checklist

  • Letter to the Department of Natural Resources on the closure of the logging ticket

  • Letter to the Department of Natural Resources about tree work

  • Felling ticket

  • Felling ticket for sanitary felling and rejuvenation

  • Dead wood felling order

  • The scheme of the arrangement of trees for felling


Permit for felling trees and forests.

How to cut down a tree legally - the basis for cutting down trees and issuing a permit

Content of the article:

  • When is it necessary
  • Which trees can be cut without a permit
  • Where to get a permit and who issues
  • Types of felling tickets
  • What package of documents is needed collect
  • Where to order a permit for felling forests and trees

Any planting on the territory of cities and towns today is strictly regulated and is under the control of environmental authorities. The need to cut down trees, pruning, transplanting, restoring, trimming and other work requires prior obtaining a special document-permission. Any actions without it are illegal and entail serious consequences in the form of administrative and even criminal punishment.

Preservation of green spaces is a significant process for modern ecology. But if for some reason it is necessary to remove the plant, take care of the execution and issuance of the document - tree felling permit . Specialists of the company "Chisty Les" will help with its receipt. We will not only negotiate with government agencies, but also carry out all the necessary work.

Why is it legal to cut down a tree and when is it necessary?

Grounds for approval of cutting trees, felling trees and other procedures related to the removal of a plant from a house plot are necessary in the following cases:

  • The tree is rotten or completely dried up. As a result, it does not bear fruit and looks unattractive. The risk of an accident is increasing.
  • Damage to the tree by pests and insects, which cannot be eliminated in various ways. Often there is a solution to problems, but it is not economically viable to implement it. Legal tree removal with consent is the best option.
  • A tree or shrub has grown heavily into a wall or roof.
  • There was a need for sanitary deforestation in the city on a permit.
  • The green space is located in the place of laying engineering and other communications.
  • Plants are located at the construction site of a private or multi-apartment building according to the project.
  • The need to clear the territory to save people from natural disasters.
  • Trees violate sanitary norms - they close windows, preventing light from entering the rooms, which negatively affects human health.

Types of felling trees and which trees can be cut without permission

There are several types of legal felling of green spaces, each of which has certain features and procedures:

  • Selective felling. It involves the partial removal of a plant in order to obtain wood or improve growth rates.
  • Complete cutting. The tree is sawn at one time. This method of removing vegetation is used if it is urgent to clear the area for subsequent development.
  • Gradual removal. Green spaces are eliminated by a special organization in several visits, which allows to preserve the functions and fertility of the soil on the site as much as possible.
  • Clearing for the purpose of forest maintenance. Provides for the elimination of withered, old plantations for the development and fruitful growth of healthy trees.

In the process of obtaining a permit for felling trees in a forest or a felling ticket, the grounds for the procedure, as well as the type of felling to be carried out, must be taken into account.

When do I need to get a permit for legal cutting of trees and who issues it?

There are many situations where obtaining a permit is a prerequisite for legal tree felling. Most typical and common:

  • The land on which the green space is located is municipal or federal property.
  • There is a tree growing outside the property that is obstructing a driveway or walkway.
  • A plot with a forest has been acquired. The owner plans to cut it down and organize a vegetable garden / garden in the prepared place.
  • A permit is required for felling trees during construction in the village.

Having decided to cut down plantings, it is important to act according to the law. Professionals of the company "Chisty Les" carry out complex work. We not only cut down, but also help to go through all the stages without any problems and get permission to cut down the forest for construction or other needs.

Types of logging tickets

To obtain a permit for a legal cut, felling of forests or trees, it is not necessary to make an appointment with the organization, waiting in a long queue. You can leave a request on specialized information portals. This format allows you to significantly reduce the time of paperwork.

A ready-made permit for cutting down emergency trees on the site is given in paper or digital form. Both are legally valid, since a unique number is assigned to each paper. Before preparing a package of documents, it is important to determine the purpose of registration. There are several types of logging tickets:

  • For sanitary felling and reconstruction of green spaces. The document is issued if it is necessary to eliminate diseased, dried or damaged plants. Such plantings pose a serious danger to utilities, people, buildings and movable property. They also damage nearby vegetation. Reconstruction is a set of measures aimed at changing the structure of the green fund on the site. It is implemented if the existing shrubs and trees have lost their functional purpose. Reconstruction of both the entire site and a separate part of it.
  • For replanting green spaces for newly built facilities. In this category, there is a division of logging tickets into two subspecies. In the first case, a permit for cutting down trees is issued to prepare the territory according to the law for capital construction (approval paper is also required for the construction). If an additional building permit is not required, a document of the second type is issued. It is necessary when cutting is carried out for the following works: repair and reconstruction of engineering networks / communications, various surveys, overhaul of buildings, installation of non-capital buildings, etc.

In addition to felling tickets, it is legal to cut down trees and shrubs on the basis of a special order issued by the Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection. The document is issued within five days from the date of submission of the relevant application.

A package of documents for obtaining a permit for felling trees and forests

Do you need to agree on the legal cutting of trees in the territory? There is a standard documentation list:

  • Written application indicating the reason for the cut and the full details of the applicant.
  • Official certificate of the examination. The information in it confirms the points of the statement.
  • Detailed site planning scheme. Green spaces that need to be cut down are necessarily marked on it.
  • Documents on the right to own the land.
  • A signed contract with a contractor, if several trees need to be cut down, or the location of the plantings requires a special approach.

Other documents can also be added to the minimum package. Each case is considered individually.

Additional documents

It is possible to enumerate for a long time all the situations related to the cutting of vegetation. The most common, which require professional participation and obtaining an appropriate permit for deforestation:

  • The site is leased. The standard package of documentation must be supplemented by a lease agreement and an officially certified power of attorney, which allows you to resolve issues related to green spaces.
  • The land plot with the disputed tree is owned by neighbors. Initially, it is worth trying to resolve the issue peacefully. If it didn’t work out, you will have to additionally provide a written complaint about the occurrence of an emergency in addition to the standard list of documents.
  • Installation of communication systems or construction. When clearing the territory, the minimum package is supplemented by: a statement from the developer, a permit for the construction of various facilities, a lease agreement for a site, a project plan, a layout plan for future landscaping, etc.
  • Logging for personal needs. To avoid problems with the law, you should additionally prepare: an agreement with the owners of the territory in which the cutting is planned, a document confirming payment under the terms and an act on the compliance of the volumes of timber received.

Where can I order legal logging with a permit?

Cutting trees according to the law requires taking into account many nuances.

Learn more