Do You Need A License To Operate A Chainsaw?

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Operating most heavy machinery requires a license. The licensing ensures that you are trained to operate the machine and are knowledgeable about the item you are handling. But does operating a smaller hand tool like a chainsaw require a license? Our experts are here to answer your question and to tell you why it’s important to get a chainsaw license.

Do I Need a Chainsaw License?

Chainsaw Operation License in the UK

In the UK, you do not need a license if you are not a professional operator. In other words, most people can operate a chainsaw without a license. However, you must still prove that you are adequately trained by going through a course. Whether that course results in some sort of certification and licensing is up to the user.

A training course is mandated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 to ensure users of the tool are practicing proper safety measures.

The Health and Safety Executive provides an official document that outlines the criteria for determining the suitability of a sawyer to operate a chainsaw. This document assesses whether the individual has completed the necessary provisions and courses for safe chainsaw handling.

checking chainsaw before cutting

This is an official document that you will need to acquire, but it is not the same as a license needed from a professional (see professional chainsaws like these ones).

Chainsaw Operation License In Other Parts of the World


The regulations for whether you need a license or not will vary from country to country. For example, in the US, the US Forest Service offers standardized training, evaluating and certifying individuals, but it’s not a mandated practice although it is encouraged.


The same goes for Canada where it’s not mandated by law but highly encouraged. Be aware that the regulations will also vary from state to state and province to province in both the US and Canada.


Ireland puts more emphasis on going through the training courses and obtaining a license, which is valid for 10 years. 

person operating a Husqvarna 20-inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw

However, if the property or land you are maintaining has large trees, then the government requires you to procure a felling license [1].


Lastly, Australia requires citizens who want to operate a chainsaw to undergo training through a nationally accredited agency and get a statement of attainment.

Why Do I Need a Chainsaw Operation License or Take the Course?

Other than the training course being mandated, there are other reasons why you need to take the course or get the license and take the course in the UK. You will not be permitted to operate a chainsaw or top-rated arborist chainsaws in a professional capacity if you do not have a license to prove you are fit.

cutting branches with chainsaw

Without either the license or the course, your Public Liability Insurance or personal accident insurance may not cover the medical costs if something unfortunate happens on the job.

Where Can I Take a Chainsaw License Course in the UK?

There are many agencies and organizations you can turn to for the course in the UK. Our experts’ first and foremost tip when looking into a training course is to make sure the course providers are properly accredited. You can check into the background of the company and read reviews from other chainsaw operators.

A good starting point is the City & Guilds Ground Based Operator. From there, the Accessing a Tree and Aerial Rescue training course will be the first training you take part in. From there, you can look into other courses to further your accreditation.

How Long will the Course Take?

The two courses our experts mentioned above shouldn’t take over a week in total. Both the courses combined will take 5 days with one more day of testing and assessing your skills. 

cutting log with Husqvarna 460 Rancher Chainsaw

The more courses you want to take, the longer it will take to get your license. Consider your needs and what you plan on sawing to decide what courses to take.

The Cost and Extra Tips

To make sure you are ready for your course, our experts have some tips on what to bring and what you need. The first thing is to have your own chainsaw ready and to make sure you have adequate personal protective equipment, or PPE.

You need to be able to lift the chainsaw and cut through lumber and such with minimal difficulty, which means a certain level of fitness is required. Other physical requirements will vary depending on the courses you take. One other important thing to keep in mind is you should not be on any medication or substances that could potentially alter your mental state.

lady operating a chainsaw

Our experts say that you should be ready for the course to set you back a few hundred to close to a thousand pounds depending on the courses and how many you sign up for. However, rest assured that although you need to spend quite a lot of money, the pass rate for organizations such as the TKF is surprisingly high.

Get ready for lots of hands-on training and assessment rather than just learning from a textbook. This is how these agencies and organizations make sure you’re ready for the natural environment. In case you have a Poulan saw, you will also be provided ideas on how to resolve a Poulan chainsaw that won’t start


Although certification is not necessary, training is mandated in the UK. The training will ensure candidates are fit for the task and licensing is only required for commercial and professional purposes. Assess what skills and courses you need to take to fulfill your end goal and remember to always wear protective gear whether in training or on the job.

Looking for other power tools to maintain your backyard aside from chainsaws? Check out the top-rated riding lawn mower perfect for hills and large gardens here

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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