U.S. EPA Federal Certification for Pesticide Applicators in Indian Country

Federal Certification for Pesticide Applicators in Indian Country

Does someone on your staff apply pesticides, or do you hire companies to manage pests within Reservation boundaries or other Indian lands? Anyone using restricted-use pesticides, or RUPs, in Indian country must have a federal certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or operate under the direct supervision of a federally certified applicator (except in limited circumstances as described below).

Pesticides might be used in a variety of settings: agriculture, greenhouses, forests, aquatics, rights-of-way, schools, homes, lawns and gardens, swimming pools, hotels, casinos, golf courses, recreation centers, office buildings, restaurants, and more. Many pesticides are classified as general use and can be used in Indian country without special training or certification. However, you must have special training and use certain techniques to apply RUPs safely. Federal law requires certification for anyone purchasing or applying RUPs. Check the product label to find out if a pesticide is restricted use. To learn more about RUPs, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/restricted-use-products-rup-report.

Ask pesticide applicators if they are using RUPs, and make sure they hold the proper federal certification. If tribal authority prohibits or limits pesticide use, tell the applicators about relevant restrictions.  

Federal certification is free, but applicators must fill out and mail a one-page application form to EPA along with proof of competence. To demonstrate competence, commercial applicators1 must submit a copy of their valid state certification. Private applicators2 have two options: submit a copy of their valid state certification or submit proof that they completed required EPA training. State certifications3 must be issued by a state adjoining the area of Indian country where the pesticides are applied. The federal certificate allows the holder to use RUPs legally in certain areas of Indian country, and is not valid outside of Indian country. 

State certifications are not valid in Indian country unless a state and tribe have a specific cooperative agreement. EPA’s federal plan was developed to allow use of RUPs in Indian country where no legal mechanism exists. The plan became effective in February 2014 and applies to all of Indian country, except several areas covered under other EPA-approved certification plans. In the Great Lakes states – EPA’s Region 5 – only the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians has an approved alternative plan that accepts state certification. Therefore, RUP applicators on the White Earth Reservation do not need to be federally certified, as they must be in other areas of Indian country.

Visit EPA’s website to learn more, download the application form and instructions, or register for training: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-applicator-certification-indian-country. If you have questions or need a hard copy of the application form, contact Shem-Mong Chou, (312) 886-2842, chou.shem@epa.gov; or Amy Mysz, (312) 886-0224, mysz.amy@epa.gov.

This is a friendly reminder to make sure that tribal staff and others applying restricted use pesticides in Indian country are federally certified by EPA. If you suspect or are aware of applicators operating in Indian country who are not properly certified, please notify:

  • David Star, Chief, Pesticides and Toxics Section, Land and Chemicals Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Branch,  at (312) 886-6009, star.david@epa.gov and cc: Amy Mysz, Environmental Health Scientist/Tribal Pesticide Liaison, TSCA & Pesticides Section, Land & Chemicals Branch, LCARD at (312) 886-0224, mysz.amy@epa.gov.

1 Commercial applicators are those who use, or supervises the use of, pesticides for any purpose or on any property other than as provided by the definition of “private applicator.”

2 Private applicators are those who use a pesticide for purposes of producing any agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by him or his employer or (if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers of agricultural commodities) on the property of another person.

3For information about obtaining state pesticide applicator certification to meet competency requirements, see

In Michigan: http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-1569_16988_35289—,00.html

In Minnesota: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/pesticide-fertilizer/pesticide-applicator-license-types

In Wisconsin: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/PesticidesFertilizersCertificationLicensing.aspx