Do You Need a Pesticide License?

If you are considering using a pesticide, it is important to make sure you are in compliance with Pennsylvania law.
Do You Need a Pesticide License? - Articles

Updated: September 15, 2017

Do You Need a Pesticide License?

Determining If You Need a License

There are two major distinctions used to decide if you need a license or not. There are additional criteria to consider, but if you know the status of these two things, you will be on your way to knowing what you can legally do.

  1. Pesticide licensing requirements are partially determined by the status of the land where an application will be made. Do you own or rent the land?
  2. Licensing requirements are also partially determined by the type of pesticides you want to use. Is the pesticide classified as "general use" or "restricted use?" The words RESTRICTED USE PESTICIDE appear at the top of the label of restricted use products. You can find labels online to search for this designation, or ask your pesticide supplier. Also, you cannot purchase a restricted use pesticide if you do not have a pesticide license from PDA.

Once you know the status of the land and the classification of pesticide, you can understand how your situation fits into our pesticide laws. Below are the basic types of licenses for pesticide applicators, but be aware that some special exceptions and rules may apply (for example if the application will be made at a school, daycare, public swimming pool, parks, golf courses - see The Pennsylvania Code, §128.41 for the complete list.)

  • No license required: If you or your employer owns or rents the land and you will only use general use pesticides, you do not need a pesticide license.
  • Private Applicator License: Is required to use restricted use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity on land that you or your employer owns or rents.
  • Commercial Applicator License: Is required to use any type of pesticide on property not owned or rented by the applicator or the employer of the applicator. All commercial applicators must be certified in at least one of 26 categories of specialty (for example, Vegetable Crops, Fruit and Nuts, Lawn and Turf, etc.). There are provisions for non-licensed technicians to operate under the supervision of a commercial applicator providing all of the requirements to register and train the technician are satisfied.
  • Public Applicator License: Required for someone who applies pesticides as an employee of the state or its instrumentalities or any local agency.
  • Business License: Is required for any business or agency that employs commercial or public applicators. To obtain this status, businesses must meet all licensing and insurance requirements.

Some Other Things to Note

There are laws for record keeping for both private applicators who apply restricted use pesticides and for commercial and public applicators. Also, commercial or public applicators must comply with the rules of the Hypersensitivity Registry which includes procedures for notification of listed individuals.

If you have any special concerns or situations, and need help to be sure of the licensing you must have, call your regional PDA office. They will help you interpret the law so you can be sure you understand what you have to do.

Below are some resources about the definitions and requirements.

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