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Do you need a license to operate a chainsaw?

There is no doubting the usefulness of chainsaws. It is the equipment of choice for gathering wood, tending of forests and woodworking, among others. But using it also comes with the possibility of undesirable outcomes, most accidents that can result in harm to other people particularly to the sawyer using it.

The high power equipment with high-level cutters especially poses a great danger when operated recklessly, which is why it is important that an operator is knowledgeable of the tools and safety precautions regardless of experience.

A chainsaw is one tool that should not be used mindlessly. It is not different from other power tools in this respect, but the risks of being careless with a chainsaw are arguably higher than the rest. This may lead you to wonder what safety measures are in place to keep people safe. Do you need to take a test if you have a chainsaw?

Should you be a license holder if you need to operate a chainsaw? Are you required to have a license if it is not intended for professional use? Is there a minimum number of years needed to prove that you are experienced with the power tool? We will aim to answer these questions for you today.

Do you need a license to operate a chainsaw?

The short answer to the question posed is it depends. Most government agencies all over the world acknowledge the major risks of chainsaw operations and have regulations put in place to lessen accidents and casualties.

The rules are not uniform across countries and even states though, so the best course of action is to check your local laws or to contact the local or regional agency that might have put forth the standards in chainsaw operations. Many would require professionals (like these ones) to undergo assessment tests but would not ask of the same when chainsaws are used primarily for personal use.

United States

In the United States, the U.S. Forest Service formulated the National Saw Policy which promotes the safe use of both chainsaws and crosscut saws. However, the Forest Service has developed this with lands under its management as well as the skilled workers working on these trails in mind, and not for regulating chainsaw use among private individuals.

The agency has standardized training, certification and evaluation programs as well as safety procedures for using the mentioned power tools at a national level, but it is not intended for those outside its jurisdiction.

The US government, through the Forest Service, encourages enthusiasts and new users to undergo training for the use of these power tools and acquire certifications where they are available though. Through these training programs, users are educated on the proper use and maintenance of chainsaws, the necessary protective equipment, and the safety precautions to lessen the occurrence of accidents.


Canada has similar regulations regarding chainsaw use. It is best to refer to your province’s authorities, but most require training for those who will be operating the power tool for commercial purposes. The certification is also used to protect workers should they be involved in an accident while using the machine, besides educating them on the proper and safe use of chainsaws.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a license is not necessary for non-professionals. However, training is required for workers to ensure that they can adequately do their tasks while also taking safety precautions, mandated by both the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Public Liability Insurance might not be honored in the case of accidents when one is deemed to not have enough proficiency when using the power tool.

The Health and Safety Executive has an official document that instructs employers and informs operators on how to control risks in the workplace, helps determine the fitness of chainsaw operators, new and young workers, and requires possession of personal protective equipment. But aside from these requirements, there is no rule or provision that necessitates an official chainsaw operating license for sawyers.

chainsaw operation


Ireland also urges its chainsaw users to undergo training courses. If maintaining your farm or forest will have you felling trees, you must procure a felling license from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine before proceeding with tending to the property. The license is valid for 10 years and could be extended to five more years as deemed necessary. The country started requiring its citizens a felling license in 2017.


Australia is a tad stricter for its chainsaw-using citizens. The country requires its sawyers to undergo a nationally-accredited course and then get a statement of attainment. Aside from this requirement, all chainsaw operators should prove that they are consistently able to conduct chainsaw operations safely from time to time and that their skills are current. An operator who successfully passes the assessment will be granted with a chainsaw ticket which expires after every three years.

Once that period has passed, chainsaw operators would have to undergo the assessment again to ensure work safety and maximum output. Renewing tickets every three years was implemented by state forestry authorities.


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