Licensing legislation was proposed by industry groups and passed by the New Jersey legislature on January 16, 2010. The legislation is known as the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act and on April 17, 2017, the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Law's rules were adopted and promulgated.

The Act creates a licensing program under which individuals may become Licensed Tree Experts (LTEs) or Licensed Tree Care Operators (LTCOs) by passing an examination and demonstrating good moral character. Licensees will be required to complete continuing education requirements, abide by standards of professional conduct and ethics, and adhere to safety standards, as well as industry practice standards. No individual shall represent himself or herself to the public as a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator or use any title, designation, word(s), letter, or abbreviations tending to indicate that such individual is a licensed tree expert or a licensed tree care operator without obtaining licensure as a tree expert by the Board of Tree Experts.

Tree care services in New Jersey are defined by the Act as meaning tree care operator services and tree expert services as established by N.J.S.A. 45:15C-11 et seq. Licensed Tree Experts can perform tree expert services which means and includes tree pruning, repairing, brush cutting or removal, tree removal, stump grinding or removal, tree establishment, fertilization, cabling and bracing, lightning protection, consulting, diagnosis, and treatment of tree problems or diseases, tree management during site planning and development, tree assessment and risk management, and application of pesticides or any other form of tree maintenance. Licensed Tree Care Operators can perform tree care operator services which means and includes tree pruning, repairing, brush cutting or removal, tree removal, and stump grinding or removal.

Licensing can be obtained through the LTE/LTCO examinations (LTE/LTCO Test Application), or for 360 days (until April 12, 2018) an individual can obtain a Tree Care Operator License without sitting for an exam by the "grandfathering" clause within the Board's Rules. An individual must submit the LTCO "Grandfathering" Application that would contain documentation to show they have engaged for seven years in the practice of Arboriculture preceding the date of rule adoption, or the Board may, at its discretion, grant a license through Reciprocity to any person who is the lawful holder of a substantially equivalent license or certification issued by another jurisdiction. The License by Reciprocity application form must be used in this instance. The Board of Tree Experts have approved a process to determine Licensed Tree Expert (LTE) Reciprocity, based on a developed Reciprocity Checklist. To be considered for LTE Reciprocity, applicants should review the LTE Reciprocity Checklist, to make sure the required points total is achieved. Documentation to support the points total for LTE Reciprocity should be submitted along with the License by Reciprocity application form.

Current Certified Tree Experts (CTE) in good standings will be able to convert to a Licensed Tree Expert within 360 days (until April 12, 2018) with the submission of a copy of their current Certified Tree Expert Certification Card and the CTE to LTE Application.

Licensees will have to abide by adopted industry standards: ANSI A300 American National Standard for Tree Care Operations – Tree, Shrubs, and Other Woody Plant Management including Part 1 through Part 10, ANSI Z60.1 American Standard for Nursery Stock, ANZI Z133 Safety Standards for Arboriculture Operations, OSHA, Federal Motor Coach Safety and FHA regulation set forth in Z133 and each of the Best Management Practices published by the ISA.

Licensees will also abide by the Canons of Professional Ethics and Standards of Conduct for Licensees.

Consumer Protection

The Law and the adopted rules set industry tree care standards within New Jersey and empower the New Jersey Board of Tree Experts to remedy complaints against both licensed and unlicensed individuals that seek to defraud the public by revoking or suspending licenses or instituting civil penalties.