The City of Austin regulates the removal of certain size trees, even if the tree is dead, diseased, or presents an imminent danger to people or property. You may need a Tree Ordinance Review Application (TORA) to remove a regulated tree. The application process is explained below, and you can also download the Guide to Dead, Diseased, or Imminent Hazard Tree Removal Applications (PDF).

Step 1: Determine if the tree is regulated.

On one- and two-unit residential property, a tree with a diameter of 19 inches or greater, measured 4.5 feet above the ground, is regulated and requires a permit to remove. On commercial and multifamily properties, any tree that is 8 inches or greater in diameter is regulated. 

How to Measure a Tree

Use a flexible tape measure to measure the circumference (around the tree) from 4.5 feet above the ground. Divide the circumference by 3.14 to get the diameter.

Diagram showing where to measure trees based on trunk characteristics

  • If the tree is on a slope, measure 4.5 feet above grade from the high side of the slope. 
  • If the tree has irregular swelling in the trunk, measure 4.5 feet above grade above or below the swell(s). 
  • If the tree is a multi-stemmed tree
    1. Measure all the stems at 4.5 feet above grade. 
    2. Take the largest stem diameter, and add it to half of the subsequent stem diameters. 
      For Example: A Cedar Elm has two stems measuring 18 inches and 16 inches at 4.5 feet above grade. The larger stem is 18 inches, so take half of the subsequent stem diameter (16 inches / 2 = 8) and add it to the largest stem measurement. Calculate multi-stem diameter: 18 inches + 8 inches = 26 inch diameter. 
  • If the tree is a leaning tree, measure at 4.5 feet above grade within the center area of the leaning tree. 
Step 2: Complete and submit a Tree Ordinance Review Application (TORA).

Follow these steps to complete a standalone TORA through the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) Portal.

  1. Register or log into your existing account on the AB+C portal. Click “Apply for Permits/Cases” on the left-hand navigation pane. 
  2. For Application Type, select “Tree Ordinance Review Application,” then “TORA,” and then select “Residential” or "Commercial."
  3. Select the correct applicant name from the drop down and click “Continue.”
  4. Under “Qualification/Type of Work” enter a description of your project. Include as much detail as possible. Then click “Continue – Apply Online.”
  5. Enter the house number and street name. Do not include the street type (drive, road, circle, etc.). Click "Search." Select the appropriate address from the search results that populate.
  6. Confirm the information you’ve entered so far and click “Continue.”
  7. Select the Type of Application "Non-Development", and for Type of Work select “Dead, Diseased, Imminent Hazard.” Complete the remaining Tree Information fields and click “Continue.”
  8. Upload images. Include a photo of the impacted tree from root to canopy. Click “Continue.”
  9. The final screen will show a summary of your application. Click “Submit.” You will receive an email confirming that your application was successfully submitted.
  10. When your application passes completeness check, its status will show as “In Review” in AB+C. A tree reviewer will be assigned to your application, and your review may take up to 10 business days.
  11. If your application is denied, your tree reviewer will email you directly with comments and how to make corrections. 
  12. If/when your application is approved, the tree permit status will show as “Active” in AB+C. You can access the official tree permit under “My Permits.” Any specific conditions of the permit, including whether any inspections are required, will be written directly on the permit.
Step 3: Remove the tree.

The City Arborist does not diagnose, prune, or remove trees. We cannot recommend a specific arborist, but we can help you find a qualified arborist. The Find an Arborist tool from Trees Are Good or the American Society of Consulting Arborists may help you find a certified arborist in your area.