The City of Austin protects certain size trees on commercial and multifamily property. You will need a permit if your project requires you to:

  • remove the tree,
  • prune 25% or more of the canopy,
  • and/or start an activity that may impact a tree or cause a disturbance to the critical root zone.


Step 1: Identify regulated trees on or near your worksite.

On commercial and multifamily properties, and development projects that require a Site Plan submittal, any tree that is 8 inches or greater in diameter is regulated.

How to Measure a Tree

To calculate a tree’s diameter, use a flexible tape measure around the tree at 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. 


Critical Root Zone (CRZ) - Development Impact Zones

Tree Preservation Criteria
  • A minimum of 50% of the critical root zone of all regulated trees must be preserved at natural grade, with natural ground cover. 
  • No cut or fill greater than 4 inches allowed within the 1/2 critical root zone. Piers with suspended slab may be permitted within the 1/2 critical root zone on a case by case basis dependent upon tree impact and at City Arborist staff discretion.
  • No impacts allowed within 1/4 critical root zone.

Read the full Tree and Natural Area Preservation requirements, Section 3 of the Environmental Criteria Manual.

critical tree root zone diagram

Step 2: Apply for your permit(s).

The permits you will need and the application process will depend on the details of your project. Schedule a virtual or in-person appointment with someone from the City Arborist group to discuss the type of application needed and next steps.

  1. Visit the online PDC Appointment Scheduler.
  2. Under Select Department, choose “Development Services.”
  3. Under Select Category, choose “Land Development.”
  4. Under Select Type, choose “Tree Division/City Arborist.”
  5. Select your location and language preference and click “Schedule Appointment.”
  6. Select the date and time you would like to schedule your appointment. Click “Continue.”
  7. Fill out the final screen with your contact information and reason for your visit. Click “Schedule It.” 

Complete and submit the appropriate Land Use Review Application for your project type. If you had a Pre-plan Submittal Consultation, including these notes with your application packet is helpful.

Optional: How to Schedule a Pre-plan Submittal Consultation

If your work will impact Heritage trees, you have the option of requesting a Pre-plan Submittal Consultation. The fee for this service is $648.23 on commercial and multi-family properties. In this consultation, staff will review codes and rules, indicate which trees need to be preserved or mitigated, and discuss any variances.

A Heritage tree is any of the following species when it measures 24 inches in diameter or greater: Texas Ash, Bald Cypress, American Elm, Texas Madrone, Bigtooth Maple, Pecan, Arizona Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, and all Oak Trees.

Please note, only the property's registered owner/owner's agent may request a Pre-plan Submittal Consultation. A Pre-plan Submittal Consultation is different from virtual or in-person appointments scheduled through the PDC Appointment Scheduler, which are available for customers with general application questions. 

Follow these steps to request a Pre-plan Submittal Consultation 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 “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 "Development", and for Type of Work select “Pre-plan Submittal Consultation.” Complete the remaining Tree Information fields and click “Continue.”
  8. Upload images. A conceptual plan and tree survey are required here. Click “Continue.”
  9. The final screen will show a summary of your application and fee amount. Fees will not be payable until your application passes a completeness check. Click “Submit.” You will receive an email confirming that your application was successfully submitted.
  10. When your application passes completeness check, you will receive an email notification with instructions on how to schedule your consultation. 
How to Check Permit Status
  1. Log in to your account the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. On the left-hand navigation pane, click My Permits/Cases.
  3. The next screen shows a list of your permits. Review the Status column of the permit you are checking on.
How to Schedule a Tree Inspection
  1. Log in to your account the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal.
  2. On the left-hand navigation pane, click My Inspections.
  3. The next screen shows a list of permits with available inspections. 

You can also schedule an inspection by phone at 512-974-9405. You will need to provide your PIN, Permit Number, and Inspection Code. Learn more about scheduling inspections.