Skip Navigation


Boating Surveys: The Essential Guide


Boat Buying
Boat Maintenance
Boat Surveys

Buying a boat is a big financial outlay, so you’re probably asking yourself the question, “do I really need to carry out a survey?”, this blog post is here to guide you in the right direction, and provide you with the relevant information about boating surveys.


So, why do I need a survey on my boat?

Well, a good survey essentially provides you with peace of mind and protection when committing to buying your dream boat – whether that boat be a new or even second-hand boat. Both you and your boat can benefit from a boat survey, as it can certainly help you both in the short and long-term.

When it comes to boat sales, a large percentage are between two private individuals in which there’s very little legal protection, by carrying out a survey on the boat, you’re able to feel at ease when completing the purchase.

Sometimes it may appear like you’re getting a bargain, when actually the boat needs some costly maintenance to ensure the structure of the vessel is sound, therefore a survey would uncover any potential issues or problems and will enable you to amend the selling price, or to even walk away from the deal entirely if you’re not happy – at the end of the day, this is your dream boat you’re after and you have to make sure that the boat is exactly what you want!

On the other hand, surveys can come back positive, so not only providing you with peace of mind, you’re also able to come out of it with a list of areas in which the vessel can be improved – perhaps in the short term, or maybe in the future when the budget allows for it.


What about the legal requirements?

There are no legal requirements to actually having a boat survey carried out, however, they are required when changing ownership. While some insurers also require that older vessels (20 years +) have a survey carried out.

You will be required to have a survey on your boat if finance is being taken out as the finance company itself will insist that you have a survey carried out on your vessel in order to protect them.


What kind of boat needs a survey?

Surveys can be carried out on all boats; they’re not confined to any specific vessels. There’s no minimum, or maximum value or size. And while you may think that only used boats need a survey, new boats can also have one, just to make sure. However, in this case, finance companies don’t insist on a survey if you’re purchasing a new boat.

Types of surveys:

Insurance survey: carried out on behalf of an insurer who wishes to assess the risks of potential cover.

Finance survey: carried out on behalf of a lender who wishes to assess the condition and value of a boat. As already mentioned, if taking a boat out on finance, the finance company will insist on a survey being carried out.

Pre and post transport survey: carried out if you want to have your boat relocated and ensures that your boat arrives at its new destination in perfect condition.

Full condition survey: This is the most comprehensive survey and is also known as a pre-purchase survey and is carried out prior to buying a boat. This survey looks at all aspects of the boat as possible, from structure and safety, right through to cosmetic details. This is so that the survey can identify good and bad points of the vessel so that you can get a real clear idea of the condition and to what extent it reflects the purchase price.



Choosing the right surveyor:

As with anything, you want to make sure you get the best for you and your boat and this is no different when looking to survey your boat, so you’ll want to make sure you find the right surveyor.


  • Find a surveyor who is knowledgeable of the vessel that’s involved
  • The surveyor must be independent of the buyer, seller and anyone else involved in the sale
  • Be sure that the surveyor carries professional indemnity insurance


Here at Burton Waters Boat Sales we have a list of surveyors that we use regularly, so if you need any help in being pointed in the right direction, we can certainly offer some suggestions!