Marine surveys are conducted on boats or yachts for a variety of reasons, and for various entities or people. Marine surveyors are, by nature of their industry standards, supposed to be impartial and unbiased. Their job is to tell the truth about a boat or yacht, as pleasing or painful as that may be.

Many insurance companies and banks require that a marine surveyor be a credentialed member of either the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). Be sure to check for requirements prior to hiring a surveyor. There are also additional credentials for surveyors that perform appraisals, especially on high value items, including the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP) and from the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).

Marine surveyors use US Federal law and published industry standards as guidance for evaluating boats and yachts.

  • The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is very specific as to certain construction requirements, especially for smaller and/or gasoline powered vessels, as well as for equipment such as navigation lights, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets.
  • The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) Standards and Technical Information Reports for small craft. This set of standards provides guidance on certain aspects of the vessel’s design and construction, such as visibility from the helm position, and installation of many of the systems and equipment found on a vessel, but does not delve into hull design, structural standards or rules such as “scantlings”. Ultimately, it is guidance to the boat builder, repairer and marine surveyor on how to specify and install electrical systems, fuel systems, through hull fittings, railings, and pretty much anything else on a boat that needs to have safety as an element of measure.
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is concerned with the things that can cause, prevent or put out a fire, as well as with carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed boatbuilding standards that are used in some areas outside the US, especially in Europe. These standards are not widely used in the US, with the exception of boat builders and equipment manufacturers who use them for their products that are exported to countries that require ISO compliance.