The following are frequently asked questions about our ISA Certified Arborist® Code of Ethics, Ethics Violations, and False Advertising. Click a question to read its answer.

ISA Certified Arborist® Code of Ethics

The Certification Board determined that the Certified Arborist Program required a reasonable ethics program, including a statement of the minimum standards of conduct for certificants. This determination resulted in the development of the new ISA Certified Arborist® Code of Ethics, and the implementation of certain, related eligibility requirements and agreements. Please also note that the Certification Program is required to maintain and enforce such ethics or conduct rules as part of our recognition and accreditation under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 17024 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Meeting these standards in turn strengthens the value of the credential holder’s Arborist certification.

The Certified Arborist® Code of Ethics serves as a central reference guide for ISA Certified Arborists® in support of their day-to-day decision making in the tree-care profession. It is meant to define our organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct and industry standards. This document will be an important communication tool to help sustain consistency around the world and create an even playing field for all ISA Certified Arborists®. In addition, your customers can rest assured that they are receiving high quality service by hiring an ISA Certified Arborist®.

All of the information disclosed in the Certified Arborist Agreement is strictly confidential and is maintained internally by the International Society of Arboriculture. It is not shared, sold or otherwise distributed to other entities, public or private. The information provided is only reviewed by the ISA Certification Program and other authorized representatives under the applicable ethics rules. Again, information is NOT released or shared.

The Certification Board has determined this information is important and relevant to its review of certification and recertification eligibility, and is consistent with ISA’s ability to administer an appropriate ethics program. The information received will be reviewed by the Director of Certification only to determine if the matter(s) should be referred to the ISA Ethics Review Committee for review under the ethics policies. ISA is not requiring the disclosure of confidential information. Rather, the required information is either reported in the public records of courts or governmental agencies, or is contained in the records of professional organizations.

Submission of the signed agreement is a required condition of those seeking new certification as well those maintaining their certification. Failure to provide the required information will result in certification discipline and/or sanctions under the Certification Program Appeals Policy. This may lead to certifications being revoked or suspended. These rules serve significant organizational, public protection, and professional purposes, and are particularly important where court, governmental, and professional organization matters relate directly to a professional arborist’s public conduct.

We want to let you know that we have listened to the feedback we received, and are taking action. Specifically, we have made changes to the requirement for disclosure. We have now limited the scope of this disclosure requirement, asking all ISA Certified Arborists to only report those activities which are related to the professional practice of arboriculture. Please note that you will be asked to acknowledge the changes by signing the updated agreement when you reach recertification.

The Code of Ethics is being sent electronically to credential holders with a valid email address or mailed to your certification address on your account. If your address or email had recently changed please contact our office to update your account.

If you have received an email notification of the Code of Ethics you may submit the Code of Ethics by clicking on the link in the email and logging into the ISA website.

If you received the Code of Ethics in the mail you may use the enclosed postage-paid return envelope or mail in a hard copy of the Code of Ethics to:

International Society of Arboriculture
ATTN: Certification/Code of Ethics
P.O. Box 3129
Champaign, IL 61826-3129
United States

You may contact ISA by email or by phone at +1.217.355.9411.

Ethics Violations and False Advertising

Once your Ethics Charge Statement is received in our office, your information will be reviewed for completion and go under initial review by the Director of Certification. At that time your complaint will be forwarded to the committee to accept/reject, you will be contacted to supply additional information or you will be notified that your complaint does not violate the Code of Ethics.

If you are uncertain, please review the Code of Ethics along with your complaint and evaluate if it constitutes a violation. If you are still uncertain you may submit your complaint, along with all necessary documentation, to ISA and your complaint will be reviewed.

No. It is important to know that your complaint is confidential, but your name and complaint information will be shared with the individual being reported.

Possible consequences of an ethics violation include:

  • A recommendation to ISA that the certificant or candidate be ineligible for certification or recertification, and that any application of the respondent for ISA certification be denied;
  • Specific training, supervision, and/or instruction concerning his or her professional activities;
  • Private reprimand and censure, including any conditions or directives;
  • Public reprimand and censure, including any conditions or directives;
  • Certification probation for any period up to three (3) years, including any conditions or directives;
  • Suspension of certification for a period of no less than six (6) months and no more than two (2) years, including any conditions or directives; and,
  • Revocation of certification, including any directives.

Please send a completed claim form and a copy of the advertisement you found to our office. It could be a yellow page ad, business card, or any other paperwork that includes misrepresentation by either an individual or company. Once we receive it, it will be reviewed and a course of action will be determined.

Once your claim is received in the office it will be processed in the order it was received. Your information (proof) will be reviewed and any further investigation will take place to determine the severity of the matter. If it is a violation of our trademark policy the individual (company) will be contacted in order to come into compliance.

Yes, we do not release the names of the individuals reporting a false advertising or misuse complaint.

A trademark is a distinct design used to identify a product or service, in this case our certification, membership, or ISA Corporate logos; whereas a word mark is a type of trademark where the trademark owner is claiming rights to the word(s), in this case, ’ISA Certified Arborist’.

ISA will process the claim just the same because ISA offers the only recognized, national and international, voluntary certification program in the arboriculture profession. As such, the use of the ‘Certified Arborist’ designation creates a significant likelihood of confusion. It is likely that consumers and the general public may be confused by your use of these designations, or mistakenly believe that use of the terms indicate: an endorsement, sponsorship, approval, or accreditation by ISA or the ISA Certification Program; or, that the business is in some manner associated or connected with ISA or the ISA Certification Program. Accordingly, the use of these designations creates, and results in, an impermissible likelihood of confusion among consumers and the public, and thereby produces a certification trademark infringement.