Land Surveyor Licensing Compliance

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Land Surveyor Licensing Compliance
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Like many professional industries, practicing as a land surveyor requires a unique set of licenses. Whether you are a principal of a surveying firm, an employee within a firm, or a recent graduate starting your career, you will face certification and licensing requirements at every level of your career.

Adhering to professional licensing requirements is key to maintaining your legal authority to practice land surveying. Beyond that, full compliance demonstrates that you have the surveying skills and judgement to safely practice your trade. Failing to observe surveying industry requirements can result in state imposed penalties and even denial, revocation, or suspension of your license.

The good news? An experienced, dedicated compliance partner can help you take a proactive approach to maintaining surveyor licensure and certification. Contact Harbor Compliance today to help you simplify the professional licensing process.

The following guide contains an overview of land surveyor firm licensing and specific board requirements in each state.

Individual Surveyor Licensing

Overview of Requirements

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. require land surveyors to be individually licensed before practicing or soliciting business. Each state board has its own professional standards for surveyor licenses. There are certain prerequisites for licensing, which vary slightly by state. Generally speaking, the requirements include:

  • A four-year degree from an accredited surveying program.
  • Successful completion of a Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) written examination, testing an applicant’s breadth of understanding of basic surveying principles.
  • Successful completion of a written Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) examination, testing an applicant's knowledge and competency of surveying skills.
  • A requisite amount of surveying experience, which for most states is four years and is usually under the supervision of a professional surveyor.

Advanced Degree Waiver: In some cases, a state board of surveying may waive the requirement of a four year degree and register an applicant who has demonstrated professional experience that is deemed to be equivalent to a degree in surveying from an accredited program.

Once these initial steps are complete, an aspiring surveyor can begin the application process in his or her state. Licensing is administered by the board of surveying in each state. The specific requirements, application fees, and processing times vary by state.

Additional Requirements

Each state has their own additional land surveyor requirements. Common requirements include:

  • Duration of state residency
  • Reference from licensed surveyor
  • Duration of internship or training
  • Additional experience
  • Additional jurisdiction-specific exam (beyond the FS and PS)

Initial Application Fees

Fees vary widely by state. The fee in Pennsylvania is just $50 whereas the California fee for registration by examination is $275. States typically charge an application fee plus the fees for processing exam applications.

Reciprocal Registration

Thanks to reciprocity, many land surveyors are licensed to practice in more than just one jurisdiction for greater job flexibility, mobility, and security. Reciprocity or licensure by comity is when a registered surveyor in one jurisdiction applies for registration in another by providing documentation that he or she meets that jurisdiction's registration requirements. Typically this is accomplished through an NCEES Record.

Registration boards examine and keep a record of qualifications for each applicant for registration. Many registration boards expect a NCEES Record as a basis for reciprocal registration, although a some consider applicants without this record. A complete copy of an applicant’s NCEES Record will be provided to a registration board in support of the application for reciprocal registration.

If reciprocal registration is permitted, there will be an application fee registration. For example, the fee for the Surveyor by Reciprocity application is $100 in North Carolina.

Renewal Requirements

Generally speaking, surveying individual licenses must be renewed periodically. The renewal frequency is one to two years, depending on the state. State fees also vary. California imposes a surveyor license renewal fee of $115 for a two-year period, while Wisconsin renewal is $82. Continuing education (CE) is required in nearly every state. Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties. A dedicated compliance expert can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and updated laws.

Surveyor Firm Licensing

Overview of Requirements

A business entity offering land survey services to the public typically must register with the State Board of Surveyors and receive a Certificate of Authorization. The Certificate of Authorization, or firm license, is necessary to practice surveying in about 75% of states. Firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees.

Licensure for surveying firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the Secretary of State. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or professional corporations (PC), and limited liability companies (LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.

After registration with the Secretary of State, firms must apply for a Certificate of Authorization through the relevant licensing board. It is worth noting that the Certificate of Authorization is a separate document from the Certificate of Authority used during foreign qualification. This can be a confusing for firms needing to file both documents, especially in Oklahoma and Missouri, where the licensing board form is also called a Certificate of Authority application. Applications and forms are fairly standard, but there are some differences from state to state.

Applications require proof of incorporation or foreign qualification and typically a fee. Other required items can include notarized bylaws and ownership requirements. For example, in North Carolina there are ownership requirements in order to obtain a Certificate of Authorization. A minimum of two-thirds of the controlling officers, partners, directors, or members of the entity must be surveyors registered under the laws of any U.S. jurisdiction, and at least one must be a surveyor registered in North Carolina.

Some states combine the applications for land surveying, architecture and engineering firm licensure into a single design firm application. Firms that provide more than one of these professional services may only need to fill out a single application but with a slightly higher application fee. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for an initial license range from $0 to $600. Georgia and California do not require an application fee, while Alaska charges $600. The average firm fee is about $130 while the most common filing fee is $100.

Renewal Requirements

Firm license renewal varies by state. Slightly over half of the states that require a firm license call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. California is an exception to this however, as licenses are only renewed when firm information changes.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $10 in Georgia and to as much as $500 in Alaska. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $110 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $100.

Alabama

Our Resources:

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Agency

Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Form:

Online Renewal

Due:

Annually by January 31.

Alaska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$500 ($200 application fee plus $300 registration fee) 

Form:

Certificate of Authorization for Corporate LLC, or LLP Practice

License Renewal

Fee:

$300 for licensees that registered in the first half of the biennial license period and $150 for licensees that registered during the second half of the biennial license period.

Form:

Biennial Certificate of Authorization Renewal for Corporate LLC or LLP Practice

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Arizona

Our Resources:

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Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Annual Firm Registration (Renewal)

Due:

Annually

Arkansas

Our Resources:

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Agency

Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$150

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

COA Renewal

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Biennially by December 31. Licenses ending in even numbers must be renewed every even-numbered year, and licenses ending in odd numbers must be renewed every odd-numbered year.

California

Our Resources:

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Agency

California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Registrations do not expire, but firms must notify the board when entity information changes.

Colorado

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Not required

Land surveyor firms are not licensed at the state level in Colorado. Business entities are permitted to practice surveying provided that they comply with CO Stat. § 12-25-204.

Connecticut

Our Resources:

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Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Due:

Annually


Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by April 30.

Delaware

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation: Board of Land Surveyors

License Renewal

Form:

Online

Due:

By June 30 of odd-numbered years.

District of Columbia

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Florida

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers

Initial Application

Fee:

$255 for a regular license or $180 for a temporary certificate.

Form:

Land Surveying Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$355 ($350 renewal fee and $5 unlicensed activity fee).

Filing Method:

Online

Georgia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Georgia Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

License Renewal

Fee:

$10

Form:

Online

Due:

By June 30 of even-numbered years.

Hawaii

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Not required

Land Surveying firms are not licensed at the state level in Hawaii. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with HAR § 16-115-4.

Idaho

Our Resources:

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Agency

Idaho Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (IPELS)

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually on the last day of the month that the COA was issued in.

Illinois

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Expires on April 30 of every odd year.

Indiana

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Not required

Indiana does not issue firm licenses at the state level and no longer requires professional corporations to obtain a certificate of registration before incorporating.

Iowa

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Not required

Firm licenses are not currently required, however, individual surveyors should register with the Bureau of Professional Licensing.

Kansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kansas State Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$95

Form:

Online

Due:

Business Entities with names beginning with A-L renew by December 31 in even numbered years; M-Z renew by December 31 in odd numbered years. 

Kentucky

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kentucky Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 for a land surveying firm permit or $150 for a land surveying and engineering firm permit.

Form:

Application for Business Entity Permit

License Renewal

Fee:

$100 for a land surveying firm permit or $150 for a land surveying and engineering firm permit.

Form:

Online

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Louisiana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$165 or $330 for both 

Form:

Firm Licensure Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120

Form:

Online

Due:

Either March 31 or September 30 Biennially

Maine

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Not required

A firm, copartnership, corporation or joint stock association may engage in the practice of land surveying in Maine, provided that the practice is carried on only by land surveyors licensed in the State. See 32 M.R.S. § 1253. 

Maryland

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Maryland Board for Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$135 (of which $35 is non-refundable application fee)

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By June 30 of odd-numbered years.

Massachusetts

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More Info

Not required

     
  • Although not requiring express licensure with the Board, a co- partnership, corporation or joint stock association may practice land surveying provided that the person in direct charge, control, and supervision of the practice is a land surveyor holding a Massachusetts certificate of registration and is an active participant in the contracting, reporting, publishing, scheduling, etc. of professional services being offered by the firm.
  • Surveyor firms may need to file a regulatory board certificate with the secretary of state prior to forming a professional entity.

Michigan

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Minnesota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Professional Firm Registration Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Mississippi

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50 online or $75 by mail.

Form:

Certificate of Authority Application (Renewal)

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Missouri

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Missouri Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Licenses originally issued in even-numbered years expire on December 31 of each even-numbered year and licenses originally issued in odd-numbered years expire on December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

Montana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Certificate of Authority Renewal

Due:

Annually by October 1.

Nebraska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nebraska Board Of Examiners For Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$25

Form:There is no form, simply follow the instructions.

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:There is no form, simply follow the instructions.Due:

Annually

Nevada

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$50

Form:

Firm Registration

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually within 30 days of the anniversary date or originial filing

New Hampshire

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Hampshire Board of Land Surveyors

License Renewal

New Jersey

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$120 for Biennial or $60 for Annual

Form:

Renewal Application

Due:

By August 31 of even-numbered years.

New Mexico

Our Resources:

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

New York

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New York State Education Department: Office of the Professions - State Board for Engineering & Land Surveying

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75. Late fees are $10 per month of uncertified practice.

Form:

Renewal applications are sent in the mail.

Due:

Triennially

North Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers & Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

North Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Dakota State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200

Form:

Certificate of Commercial Practice Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Ohio

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Ohio Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

Biennially by June 30

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Oklahoma Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200 for domestic $250 for foreign

Due:

Biennially

Oregon

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Pennsylvania

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Not required

Pennsylvania does not license firms, but requires that land surveying companies have at least one licensed land surveyor on staff. Entities with some form of "Survey" in their name will be required to file a fictitious name registration with the board. You must also receive board approval prior to foreign qualification.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Due:

Biennially

South Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By March 31 of odd-numbered years.

South Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the date of issuance.

Tennessee

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Tennessee Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Texas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$31

Form:

Online

Due:

Annually

Utah

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Vermont

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Washington

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Washington Department of Licensing - Business and Professions Division

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$110

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually

West Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

West Virginia Board of Professional Surveyors

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Surveying Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all surveying work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Wyoming

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Wyoming Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$90

Form:

Renewal for Business Entity Authorization

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Design Firm - Surveyor firm registration is sometimes grouped with engineering and architecture on a single “design firm” application form.

Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) - An exam for recent graduates that tests on basic surveying principles.

Principles of Surveying (PS) - An exam that tests for competency of surveying skills.

Reciprocity - When a licensed surveyor in on state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Accrediting board that sets standards for university programs in a variety of applied science disciplines.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES)
Develops, administers, and scores the exams used for engineering licenses.

National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS)
Advocacy group for professional surveyors in the United States.

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