NAMS and SAMS Marine Surveyors

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Marine surveyors conduct inspections, surveys, and other examinations on watercraft and report on their condition. The surveyor will assess the health of the vessel, structure, machinery, and equipment to ensure compliance with various requirements and specifications.  



The two predominant and professional organizations to which a marine surveyor can belong are The National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) and The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). Both organizations have regional and national meetings annually. A focus on ethics and continuing education is at the forefront of both institutions. Certified Marine Surveyors and Accredited Marine Surveyors are both highly qualified and technically sound to perform a true and unbiased evaluation.



NAMS, The National Association of Marine Surveyors, is comprised of surveyors from 14 different regions, including 11 domestic, 2 Canadian, and 1 in Europe. NAMS provides highly qualified marine surveyors for three major categories – Hull and Machinery, Yachts and Small Crafts, and Cargo. Hull and machinery surveyors analyze condition, value, construction, and damage of commercial vessels, barges, propulsion machinery, cranes, and etcetera. Yacht and small craft surveyors evaluate condition, value, construction, and damage of yachts and other vessels up to 300 feet in length. Cargo surveyors look at the stowage, transportation, and damage to all cargo on the vessel.

Levels of Membership

  • Marine Surveyor (CMS)
  • Associate
  • Apprentice

Experience in the marine industry, an appropriate degree, or a Merchant Marine License are required for all membership levels. Each NAMS-CMS candidate is tested in their selected discipline.

To find a NAMS accredited member, click here



SAMS, The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, includes around 1,000 surveyors throughout the globe. The organization hosts an annual educational conference for members to discuss recommended practices, damage avoidance, advanced inspection methods, and legal liabilities. Overall, they service cargo, commercial workboats, engines, fishing vessels, hulls, machinery, yachts, small crafts, and tugs. 

Classes of Membership

  • Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS)
  • Surveyor Associate
  • Affiliate

Accredited Marine Surveyors must be currently practicing marine surveys with at least five years of prior experience. SAMS-AMS candidates are tested in their selected field of accreditation. Surveyor Associates are marine surveyors who do not yet meet the prerequisites to be Accredited Marine Surveyors. Affiliate Members must be currently operating a business which provides a product or service to the marine industry. Practicing marine surveyors are not eligible for this category.

To find a SAMS accredited member, click here



Condition and Valuation Survey  

This pre-purchase survey is extremely thorough and conducted before finalizing the purchase of the watercraft. The surveyor will perform operational testing of all systems and equipment, both in and out of the water. Keep in mind, the marine surveyor is usually NOT a qualified engine surveyor. If anything other than a basic analysis is needed, the surveyor will recommend further inspection by a specialist.

The final report will educate the buyer as to the current condition of the watercraft, highlight any necessary repairs or improvements and document the boat’s market value as is typically required for obtaining boat insurance or financing.  

Limited Condition and Valuation Survey  

This survey is conducted mainly for insurance purposes. It will cover all the tests and evaluations of the full condition and valuation survey, but it can be done with the vessel either afloat or ashore.  

Damage Inspection 

This inspection is used when the vessel sustains significant damage due to collision, grounding, or severe weather. It will evaluate the cause, nature, and extent of the damage. The surveyor will often work closely with repair shops and boatyards to determine cost estimates and repair recommendations.  


An appraisal is meant to determine the fair market value for the vessel.  

Sea Trial 

A sea trial will evaluate the performance, handling, sea-keeping, and reliability of the vessel while afloat. The surveyor will observe the machinery and systems while taking the watercraft through its paces. 



When the surveyor’s work is completed, he or she will provide a written report to the boat owner containing the following information:

  • The boat name, hull identification number, and federal or state government-issued registration numbers 
  • The name of the boat owners and/or buyers 
  • Published dimensions of the vessel and a description of its construction 
  • The construction of the vessel and installed equipment to the degree needed 
  • The condition of the vessel and its systems  
  • Any recommendations for repairs needed to make the vessel function properly 
  • Pictures of the vessel from several angles 
  • Pictures of the hull identification number and registration form.  
  • Pictures of any notable improvements or deficiencies 
  • The vessel’s fair market value


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Victorina Strutt

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