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Permit requirements for tree removal in Melbourne

Need a permit to remove a tree on your property? Let us clear up the why and hows for you.

A common thread in the process of Tree Removal in Melbourne is needing to obtain a permit from your local council. This week we’re sharing a little bit about why you might need one and also how to go about obtaining one. 

In Victoria (Australia), without a permit, in some local Government areas, you cannot remove a tree. Nor can any service provider. Every council in Victoria has its own laws.  Also, every property has its own overlays. So, each and every property is different. 

There are 2 common ways to determine if a permit is needed they are;


Planning overlays are a set of rules that provide details on how the use and development of the land can be carried out. Not every property has an overlay. they are used specifically when there is an indication to protect areas of significance (such as indigenous heritage sites) and the habitats of local flora and fauna species.  Planning overlays can be quite complex but the most common overlays that have tree removal permit requirements are a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) and a Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO). 

You can see more about overlays on your property at the Vic Plan website if you are curious

VPO’s usually have rules relating to native or indigenous vegetation. The reasoning for this is to try and keep biodiversity in check. SLO’s usually relate to any trees over a certain size. The reasoning for this is to protect larger trees on private property. And all that might seem unfair, but this is why we need to do our own due diligence when purchasing a property. 

Council laws

Many councils in Victoria are now adopting local laws relating to tree removals and permits. In most cases, the requirements are determined by the height of the tree or the circumference of the trunk. 

Over the years there has been an increasing amount of evidence to support the benefits of tree canopies and larger trees in urban settings. This comes as governments tackle climate change and also implement ways to improve the overall wellbeing of the community. Therefore some trees that are considered a benefit to the environment will be subject to these strict laws. 

To get the correct information on your local area we’d recommend contacting your local council and avoiding taking your mates’ word for it (unless they work for your local councils’ planning department.   

Many councils in Victoria have set rules on which trees you can and cannot remove without a permit

Are there any permit exemptions?

Some councils don’t have tree control rules, and some properties don’t have overlays. A skilled Arborist (like Jim at Tree Amigos) has all this knowledge stored up in his wonderfully efficient brain.

We typically know when you do or don’t need a permit, but we still “cross our t’s and dot our i’s” in all situations to keep ourselves out of hot water and to provide you with the best service and to help streamline the process as much as possible

Finally, the 10/30 & 10/50 rule is a simplified way to understand if you can remove a tree from your property. Created in 2011 as a response to the 2009 Black Saturday fires, this rule enables clearing around buildings built or approved before 10 September 2011 only. For new buildings, clearing for bushfire protection will be considered through the planning permit process.

You can download this PDF for more information 

Some councils don’t have tree control rules, and some properties don’t have overlays

How do I apply for a permit?

Applying for permits is relatively straightforward.  A search in your local government’s website for “tree removal permit”  will most likely yield the result you need. However, there’s no guarantee of how long the process will take. So be sure to get on to it as soon as possible to avoid delay. 

If you require a permit you may also need an Arborist report. If so give us a call and we can point you in the right direction for that too. 

Now you know how permits work and how to apply for one. Now all you need to do is make the most of our obligation-free quotes and our friendly crew will talk you through the rest.

Search your local government’s website for “tree removal permit”.  You will most likely yield the result you need to apply for a permit


If you want quality tree removal by professional and highly sought after arborists in the North and Northeast of Melbourne Tree Amigos offer free quotes and a price guarantee!

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