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Overview of Land Surveying Firm Licensing Requirements
Prior to providing land surveying services in a state, firms are required to meet a number of
licensing and registration requirements. Although not every state issues a land surveying firm
license, surveying businesses in non-licensure states must adhere to regulations dealing with entity
structure, ownership, and individual licenses needed before taking on surveying projects.
In states where a firm license is required, firms must designate an employee as the surveyor in
responsible charge of all surveying activities. The surveyor in charge is generally required to have
an active professional surveyor license in the state where the firm license is being issued.
License application requirements vary by state, but many applications ask for:
Business entity information
A list of officers or owners of the firm
A certificate of authority (if a foreign entity)
A certificate of good standing from the secretary of state
Firms operating in more than one location within the same state will likely also need to provide surveyor-in-charge and contact information for each of their branch office locations. In some states, each branch office must obtain its own firm registration or license.
Entities that offer engineering or geological services in addition to land surveying services will typically need a separate license for each professional service they provide. A few states do, however, issue design firm licenses that cover land surveying, a number of engineering disciplines, geology, and architecture under a single license.
Surveying firms pursuing projects outside of their home state are typically met with a number of licensing-related challenges. Firms should expect to have to register with the board of surveyors, secretary of state, and sometimes the department of revenue before providing services in each new state.
Although the order of the licensing process varies, states often require firms to foreign qualify their business entity with the secretary of state before applying for a surveying firm license. Firms should also ensure that at least one employee is actively licensed and can act as the firm’s surveyor-in-charge in the state.
Before providing surveying services in a new state, firms should confer with the state’s tax authority and apply for any necessary tax-related registrations. Corporate income tax, withholding tax, and unemployment insurance tax registrations are commonly required when doing business in a new state.
"Harbor Compliance has our backs. They make everything so easy. In the middle of this
exciting and stressful time, I know the licensing aspect will not be stressful."
Valerie Craft Mitchell, CEO, Craft Electric
Once licensed, firms must work to maintain COAs, licenses of individual qualifiers, and good
standing of their entity in each state.
After licenses and registrations are obtained, firms must file renewals to remain in good standing. Land surveying firm licenses typically renew on an annual or biennial basis, and firms may also need to submit annual reports to maintain their entity registration with the secretary of state.
In addition to these structured renewal events, firms must also report address, contact information, qualifying individual, and ownership changes as they occur. States typically require these types of changes to be reported within 10 or 20 days of their occurrence.
Firms should also track continuing education requirements to ensure that their qualifying individuals meet their individual license renewal requirements. Surveyors in charge who fail to meet renewal requirements will jeopardize the good standing of the firm license.
A loss of good standing with the board of surveyors or secretary of state typically results in the payment of penalty fees to reinstate, and registrations left delinquent for long enough can become dissolved entirely. Maintaining compliance in these areas is the key to avoiding unnecessary penalties and preventing costly delays caused by delinquent registrations.
Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time are critical to avoiding penalties. Dedicated compliance software and services can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and relevant updates to state laws.
50-State Chart of Land Surveyor Firm License Requirements
See the table below for an overview of state requirements or click more info to view detailed licensing information in your state.
Land Surveying Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Maine
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.
Land Surveying Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Massachusetts
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.
Land Surveying Firm licensure is not required on the State level in Pennsylvania
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.
By December 31 of the year following initial licensure and biennially thereafter.
Design Firm - Engineering firm registration is sometimes grouped with architecture and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.
EI (Engineering Intern) - A term also used to describe an Engineer in Training.
EIT (Engineer in Training) - A professional designation granted upon having completed at least 3 years of school at an ABET-accredited university and having passed the FE exam.
FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) - An exam testing on basic engineering principles that is required to become an engineer in training.
PE (Professional Engineer or 'Principles and Practice in Engineering') - Means either Professional Engineer or refers to the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam that is a prerequisite for an engineering license.
Reciprocity - When a licensed engineer in one state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.
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