Tree Removal

What Is It?

Our Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 25.11, Tree Protection, 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.

See our Trees & Codes webpage for more information on tree requirements on private property,  tree service providers, tree public notice, and additional resources.

Do You Need SDCI Approval?

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. 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:

How Much Does It Cost?

The fee for tree removal varies depending on the type of request, summarized below. The fee is charged when you apply. If it takes SDCI more time than the fee assigned to review an application, additional time will be charged on an hourly basis. The Land Use rate is subject to change, so be sure to look at the current fee subtitle

Minimum Land Use (LU) Fee Calculation for Tree Removal Requests by Type1

Request Type Minimum Fee Calculation
ADA/Elderly Access No LU fee
Dead No LU fee
Emergency 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Hazard Tree Removal 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Insect/Pest/Pathogen 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Invasive/Nuisance No LU fee
Obvious Damage to building foundations or utility infrastructure 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Response to Tree Code Violation (25.11) 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Thinning Tier 3 and Tier 4 trees that were initially overplanted resulting in 40% or higher canopy cover 0.5 x LU hourly rate
Vegetation Restoration 1 x LU hourly rate
1 Additional SDCI fees may apply in environmentally critical areas.

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 whether you need SDCI approval, your tree tier category, and whether the tree is located in an environmentally critical area.

Use the resources below to determine if you need a permit or SDCI approval before removing your tree.

  • Tree Service Provider Directory: find a registered tree service provider to help determine the size, species, and hazard status of your tree
  • GIS map: determine whether or not your property contains an environmentally critical area

Ask our experts. The best way to contact our staff is via email at 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 and/or need interpretation services (please be prepared to share your preferred language to help us locate the appropriate support).

Start your application. Tree removal associated with a construction project is typically reviewed through the SDCI record authorizing the construction. When SDCI review and approval is required to remove a tree outside of development, you can request approval using the Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration application through the Seattle Services Portal. Either login to your existing account or create a new account if necessary. Instructions for submitting this application are at: How to Apply for SDCI Approval for Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration

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.

Create an online public notice. Visit Seattle Services Portal Trees to create your public notice.

  • Reportable work requires online public notice three full business days in advance of the work.
  • Tree removal requires online public notice six full business days in advance of the work.

Print your notice. Print your notice and post it on-site during the commercial tree work and for five days after work.

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.