Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Choose a Marine Surveyor?

SAMSAnyone can title him or herself as a Marine Surveyor and start a business. Certain marine surveyors are permitted to use a designation denoting membership in accrediting organiza- tions that require members to meet strict professional, technical and ethical standards.

Surveyors should provide you with a professionally prepared report that can be accepted by your bank and/or insurance company. Talk with prospective surveyors and ask questions! What does the survey include and what type of reporting format is used? Do they use ABYC, NFPA and USCG standards in their surveys? How much will the inspection cost? How long will the on-board inspection take?

SAMSA thorough inspection will not be rushed and will depend on the type of survey required based on vessel size, equipment and on-board systems. There may be additional services available such as engine surveys, oil analysis, galvanic and stray current corrosion testing, ultrasonic testing, moisture testing and other non-destructive tests. There may be additional charges for these and other services.

Well conducted surveys can provide good infor-mation on the vessels' condition, but they are not guarantees. The surveyor reports the condition in accessible areas only as it exists at the time of inspection.

Why should you have a vessel surveyed? Most insurance companies and banks will require them on older vessels. They will need to know her condition and fair market value in order to finance and/or underwrite the vessel. Knowing her condition and fair market value before you purchase is also important. However, the most important reason to survey your vessel is for the safety of the passengers and crew. 


What Type of Survey Do I Need?
Marine Surveys are performed for a number of reasons,
and the procedures for each vary to best suit your needs:
Pre-Purchase Survey 
This is the most comprehensive type of inspection, and is strongly advised when purchasing a new or used vessel. Condition and overall operation of the vessel should be examined. This covers structural integrity, electrical systems, the propulsion system, the fuel system, other machinery, navigation equipment, miscellaneous on-board systems, cosmetic appearance, electronics, and overall maintenance as well as an out-of-water inspection and a sea trial.

Insurance Survey
This inspection is performed so that the insurance company can determine whether or not the vessel is an acceptable risk. They are interested in structural integrity and safety for its intended use. Most insurance companies require a survey on older boats. They will also want to know the vessel's fair market value.

Appraisal Inspection
This inspection is performed to gather enough information to justify or determine the fair market value of the vessel. This is normally needed for financing, estate settlements, donations and legal cases.
Damage Inspection
The surveyor can be retained by an insurance company to determine the cause of a loss and determine the extent of loss related damage and may be asked to recommend repairs, review estimates, and determine the pre-loss value of a vessel.  A vessel owner can retain a surveyor for the same purposes, but for the owner's behalf.

How Should I Prepare for a Marine Survey?
Time and additional expense can be saved by preparing the
vessel for inspection and making her more accessible.

SAMSArrange to present a clean, shipshape boat, and have all papers and miscellaneous gear ready. If applicable, you will need to make arrangements with the marina to haul the vessel for bottom inspection, and retain a captain for sea trials. Lockers and cabin areas should be cleared of all miscellaneous gear.

The surveyor should never be asked to prepare a boat for inspection. The surveyor may request minor dismantling of interior ceilings, headliners, flooring, etc. in order to gain access to the suspected areas. Random removal and examination of below-the-waterline fasteners on wood boats may be required. Any dismantling and re-installation of parts should be performed by qualified personnel and is the responsibility of the person ordering the survey.

Written authorization from the owner may be needed to board and/or to remove part of the vessel. 


How Do I become A SAMS® Surveyor

SAMS® has two membership classes of marine surveyors. The Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS®) and the Surveyor Associate (SA). Listed below are the items required to apply for membership. A more detailed description will be included in our Membership Request Packet. If you are interested in becoming a SAMS® member, please send your request to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and include your full name and mailing address.

If applying as an Accredited Marine Surveyor you will need to submit the following:

  1. SAMS® Application (included in Membership Packet)
  2. SAMS® Admissions Exam (included in Membership Packet)
  3. Submit one survey for each of last five years of active surveying
  4. Resume
  5. Business Card 
  6. Notarized affidavit attesting completion of 12 surveys per year for each of the last five years
  7. $150.00 non-refundable application fee

 If applying as a Surveyor Associate, you will need to submit the following:

  1. SAMS® Application (included in Membership Packet)
  2. SAMS® Admissions Exam (included in Membership Packet)
  3. A minimum of one survey report
  4. Resume
  5. Business Card  
    $150.00 non-refundable application fee




The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors®, its Officers, Directors, members or employees assume no responsibility for actions of its members for any misrepresentation, negligence, or judgmental errors.  The acceptance of, and responsibility for satisfactory performance of assignments rests solely with the individual member.