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So you’ve found your dream boat and have made the smart choice to engage a marine surveyor before you commit to the purchase.

You’ve taken a great step towards protecting your investment, but where do you start in your search for the right marine surveyor in an unregulated industry?

The good news is you’re not alone in your journey. The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors (AIMS) has a membership of over 400 surveyors with varying degrees of experience and qualifications. We take the professionalism of our surveyors seriously and our members adhere to a strict Code of Professional Conduct and ongoing yearly Continuing Professional Development. Our transparency helps consumers make an informed choice in engaging a surveyor.

When making contact with a marine surveyor, take the time to ask a few questions. Do you know what type of survey you need? A prepurchase and insurance survey are not one and the same. An insurance survey is primarily a risk evaluation conducted at the request of the insurance company to assess whether a vessel is worth insuring. A pre-purchase survey is carried out for the prospective buyer. It is much more detailed and reports not only on the features of the vessel but also the condition, including any evident recent repairs or maintenance requirements and may also include a sea trial. A pre-purchase survey increases your outlay, but its value is well worth the extra cost.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the qualifications and experience of your surveyor. What is their professional background that led them to marine surveying? Have they undertaken any marine surveying specific qualifications, such as a Diploma of Marine Surveying? Do they have the expertise to provide a mechanical report as part of their survey? And do they have prior experience on boats such as yours specifically?

A quality surveyor will usually advertise their expertise and can answer questions to confirm their suitability for your survey.

Is your surveyor covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance? Ask for evidence of their insurance coverage before you begin,as you want to make sure all bases are covered in the event things don’t go as planned.

Ask your surveyor for a Terms of Engagement if they don’t provide one. This document outlines the specifics of the survey type and report to be provided as well as survey costs and payment terms. It is critical in clarifying exactly what you are getting for your money and in the undesirable event that things don’t go as planned, can form a legal agreement to fall back on. If your surveyor does not provide a Terms of Engagement agreement, you can download one from the AIMS website free of charge. Insist on getting your terms in writing before you begin.

Armed with all this knowledge, you can confidently undertake the task of selecting your surveyor and getting the right survey for your needs. There is no better way to proceed on the adventure of boat ownership than with peace of mind for the safety of your asset and all those onboard.

The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors believes in the value of a quality survey and consumers can turn to us and our surveyors to assist you well on your way.

If you are not sure if your surveyor is a member you can search the AIMS database at or give us a call on 02 6232 6555.



1. Make sure that your boat (and trailer if required) has a survey before you buy and ensure that you, as the buyer, appoint the surveyor of your choice. That way you can be sure that the surveyor is working for you and no one else.

2. Give the surveyor all the reasons why you want to buy a boat, what you are intending to use it for and where you intend to use it. Prepare a list of all of the things you want the surveyor to take special note of.

3. Make sure that lifesaving equipment and a beacon are on your list.

4. An owner might tell you that they have already had a survey done and offer you the report, but that report was commissioned by them and should not be passed on. They are unlikely to give you a report that highlights repairs needed and you can’t assume that a report hasn’t been altered.

5. If you are going through brokers, be aware that they are often clients of surveyors and regularly send work to a particular surveyor. If a broker is adamant about you using a particular surveyor, walk away.





Published in print January-March 2024

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