Find out how to apply for a tree cutting permit and the requirements to remove a tree in Surrey.
Trees in Surrey can only be removed or cut down if they meet specific requirements within our Tree Protection Bylaw and when a permit has been issued.
The Tree Protection Bylaw reduces the number of trees removed, killed, cut or damaged, by having in place improved protection and replanting requirements.
You may be fined up to $20,000 if you damage a tree or remove a tree without a permit.
Tree Removal Requirements
You must apply for a Tree Cutting Permit to remove or re-top the following:
- All trees that are at least 30 centimetres diameter at breast height.
- Trees that were planted as required replacement trees or condition of development trees. For example, trees planted in a strata complex by the developer are protected as they were a requirement of the development permit.
- The following tree species of any size:
- Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
- Garry Oak (Quercus garryana)
- Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
- Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
- Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
- Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)
1. Learn if you can get a permit
You or a certified tree removal cutting company can apply for a Tree Cutting Permit for a tree on your property. If the tree is a City tree, please call 604-501-5050 to report the tree. City-owned property includes parks, boulevards and greenbelts.
For every tree you plan to remove, you may be required to plant 2 replacement trees.
You can apply for a permit because:
✔ Your tree is dead or in decline beyond expectation of recovery
✔ Your tree has a structural defect that makes it hazardous
✔ Your tree interferes with servicing without an alternative
✔ Your tree is within 2 meters of the home's foundation
✔ To allow for construction: If you are building on private property with trees on the land, review the building site tree requirements for residents.
You cannot apply for a permit because:
✖ Your tree drops debris in gutters
✖ Your tree drops leaves or fruit
✖ Your tree gives too much shade
✖ You want your neighbour’s tree removed
✖ Your tree causes moss growth on roof
✖ Your tree has damaged your driveway and sidewalk
✖ There is fence lifting
✖ There is root interference with your lawn
✖ You want a better view
2. Applying for a permit
In order to apply for a tree cutting permit, you need the following:
- A completed Tree Cutting Permit Application Form.
- Application forms need to be signed by the registered owner of the property. If a tree's located on the boundary of your property and your neighbour's property, both owners must give consent by signing the application form.
- Stratas may attach a signed letter from their management company giving a specific person permission to apply for the permit on behalf of the strata.
- At least three photos of the tree. Photos must be in colour, clear show the specific tree that you wish to remove.
- Photos should show:
- The whole tree
- The defective part
- The area at distance
- Photos should show:
- A printout of the tree location on the City of Surrey online mapping system (COSMOS), or a sketch.
- Any other relevant documentation. This may include documents such as contractor's invoices, diagnostic forms, etc.
You need an arborist report if you are applying for 5 or more trees or if it's specifically requested by the Trees and Landscape Section.
Arborist reports must be prepared by a ISA Certified Arborist / Qualified tree risk assessor. Your arborist must follow the City's terms of reference while preparing your report.
Submitting Your Application
Submit your application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application forms, photos and documents that are emailed in to the City must be sent as attachments to the email. Photographs of the application form, photos in a drop box format or pasted into the body of the email will not be accepted.
To submit your application in person, use the secure drop box on the main floor.
Surrey City Hall
13450 - 104 Avenue Surrey, BC
Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:15 pm
There is no fee for applying for a permit.
3. Waiting for your permit
- Applications are reviewed in order of receipt.
- Applications for trees that pose a safety hazard take priority.
- Applications are valid for one year after the approval date. You will be required to submit a new application if you exceed the one year maximum.
Letter of Response
Once your application has been reviewed, you will be notified of your application's approval or denial.
If you provided an email address on your application form, you will receive an email response. If no email address was provided, you will receive a letter to your mailing address.
If your application was approved, your next step is to pay for your permit.
If your application has been denied, you can appeal the decision. You will need to hire an arborist, who is a certified tree risk assessor, to complete a Level 3 Advanced Tree Risk Assessment and supply a report demonstrating that your tree meets the tree removal requirements.
For more information on tree inspection appeals, see the Terms of Reference that arborists use to prepare their Tree Risk Assessment Reports.
4. Paying for your permit
Credit Card Payments
- Call 604-591- 4086
- The following information will be needed:
- Address or project number
- Tree cutting permit number - #XXXXX
You can also mail a cheque to:
Surrey City Hall
Trees & Landscape
13450 - 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3T 1V8
The tree cutting permit fee is $99, plus $38 per tree being removed.
For example, if you were taking out a permit to remove one tree, your permit fee would be $137, for two trees it would be $175.
Replacement Tree Deposit
The replacement tree deposit is $550 per tree. We collect this deposit to make sure replacement trees are planted and maintained during their important first year.
We will return your deposit in a two-stage inspection process to make sure the replacement trees planted will survive and grow to maturity.
5. Getting your permit
Once your payment has been processed, your permit will be issued and sent to you.
- If you provided an email address, your permit will be emailed to you. Print out your permit and display it on your property so that it is visible from the street.
- If no email address was provided, your permit will be mailed out to your mailing address. Display it on your property so that it is visible from the street.
Your permit will be valid for one year. Once your permit exceeds one year, it is considered expired and any extension requests will be reviewed.
6. Removing your tree
Once your tree cutting permit has been issued and is in hand, you may have your tree removed.
All tree work, including tree removals, pruning and risk assessments, should be undertaken by qualified professionals. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that contractors hired to perform tree work are qualified.
The following qualifications, certifications and endorsements are recognized by WorkSafeBC for cutting down trees:
- BC Certified Faller (BC Forest Safety Council)
- Falling and Bucking Endorsement (HortEDBC)
- Qualified Arborist as per WorkSafeBC
Your tree cutting permit must be posted on your property and visible to the street.
Penalties apply if a tree is removed without a valid permit. Contact 604-591-4675 to report any suspicious tree-related activity.
7. Replacing your tree
Replacement trees are required to help replenish our City’s urban forest. You may purchase your replacement tree from a variety of places, including nurseries, plant sales and retail stores as long as the tree that you purchased meets the City’s criteria and is planted according to the BC Landscape Standards. See our Guide to Selecting and Planting Replacement Trees or skip to our List of Recommended Replacement Trees.
Once you have planted your replacement tree, book your inspection. 50% of the replacement tree securities is eligible for release once an inspection is completed, and your tree is accepted by the inspector.
One year after your first inspection, you will need to book your second inspection. The second 50% of your deposit will be refunded upon successful inspection.
If you do not want to plant your replacement tree, please provide the City with a signed letter stating your intentions. Your security deposit can then be sent to the Green City Fund where it will be used to plant trees elsewhere in the City.
Protecting Bird Nests
Bird nests are typically active every year from March 1 until August 31. Some variation in these dates may occur due to factors such as weather.
If you are removing trees within these dates, you may need to provide a bird nesting survey. Bird nesting surveys must be written by a qualified environmental professional (QEP) and must follow the City’s terms of reference.
Bird nesting surveys are time-sensitive. Please do not have one done unless you are directed to do so by City staff.
If you want to find out if your project needs a bird nesting survey or you have any other questions, please email email@example.com.
Tree removal near an eagle's nest is prohibited during eagles' nesting season, which is generally February 1 to September 31. If there are nests present, tree cutting and land clearing may not occur between April 1 and September 1. These dates may fluctuate from year to year due to seasonal changes.
Review the British Columbia Ministry of Environment's Best Management Practices Document on raptor conservation in urban and rural development applications.
Provincial or Federal Government statutes or regulations may apply to a property and you must adhere to those regulations regardless of whether the City has issued your tree cutting permit. This includes, but is not limited to, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the BC Wildlife Act.
- Tree Cutting Permit Application
- Tree Risk Assessment Reports (Terms of Reference)
- Bird Nesting Survey (Terms of Reference)
- Tips for Hiring a Tree Care Professional
- Guide to Residential Tree Cutting Permit Application
- Guide to Selecting and Planting Replacement Trees
- List of Suitable Replacement Trees
- Tree Inspections
- Tree Protection Bylaw No. 16100
If you have any questions along the way, please call 604-591-4675