Land Surveying Laws

Land Surveying as a profession is critical to numerous other industries, and as such is a heavily regulated profession. While every state has its own specific rules and regulations, there are many similarities. This guide goes over some of the common requirements for land surveying, using the laws of California as a guide, however we encourage anyone interested in surveying to research the specific laws in their own state.


The most common aspect of land surveying laws in the United States is the requirement for registration. All 50 states require surveyors to be licensed before they can can certify legal documents or perform many of the duties associated with land surveying. You can learn more about getting your land surveying license here.

Boundary Measurement

Another very common and heavily regulated component of land surveying is boundary measurement. This includes the establishment, measurement, location, retracement, or alignment of any property, parcel, right-of-way, or anything similar to these. Any measurements related to property lines or boundary is likely to be very heavily regulated by state surveying laws, and laws in your specific state should be researched first.

Topographic Mapping

Topographic mapping is considered part of the practice of land surveying in most states, and requires a land surveyor perform or oversee any work related to topographic mapping.


Civil Engineering as a field shares a significant amount of material with Land Surveying. Because of this relationship, laws surrounding professional engineers and land surveying often mean that a licensed civil engineer can perform surveying work under their engineering license. However, these rules can be complex and vary by state. Check with your state board to learn if a licensed engineer can serve as a surveyor.


While there are a few exemptions to the requirements for licensure in each state, they are typically extremely narrow. For example, in California, a license is not required for surveying in connection with the leveling of agricultural crop land if trigonometry is not used. We know, it sounds absurd, but these are the types of laws that exist. In general, it is safe to say that if the practice is related to land surveying, then a licensed surveyor is required to perform or oversee the work.

California Professional Land Surveyors’ Act

As an example of land surveying laws, it might be useful to view the Professional Land Surveyors’ Act for the state of California.