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Frequently Asked Questions about Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Find FAQs below.

Can a Professional Engineer (PE) certify a site plan which references a property line determination that was previously completed by a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS)?

Answer:   No, except in the limited circumstances set forth below.

Although state law allows a PE qualified in civil engineering to perform land surveying work incidental to his or her engineering work, such as topographical measurements, the law clearly states that a PE cannot make property line determinations.  See M.G.L. c. 112, s. 81D. As stated in Board regulation 250 CMR 5.01, “the delineation of existing or proposed structures, features or Boundaries relative to property lines requires the determination of property lines and therefore must be performed by a Professional Land Surveyor.” When a PE obtains an electronic or hardcopy of a pre-existing survey plan and adds his or her engineering work to that plan, the PE is representing where the property line exists relative to his/her work for the purpose of the PE’s engineering project. However, the PE cannot be certain that the pre- existing survey accurately reflects the current conditions of the property and is sufficiently reliable to be used for the PE’s current project. For example, potential issues with the prior survey include:

  • boundary lines have changed since date of survey;
  • a survey of adjacent property conflicts with prior survey;
  • overburden of survey for different purpose (e.g. mortgage inspection survey)
  • not in conformance with rules of evidence and 250 CMR
  • court decree overturning prior survey
  • legitimate claims of occupation and encroachments.
  • on-site construction after date of prior survey.

For this reason, except in the limited situation described below, a PE cannot certify a site plan showing property lines.

The only exceptions to the above-stated rule are when: (1) the PE consults with the PLS who performed the prior survey and that PLS confirms that the survey information on the filed plan reflects current conditions of the property and is sufficiently reliable to be used for the purpose of the PE’s project and PLS stamps the land surveying work or (2) the surveyor is a member of the project development team or the survey was specifically commissioned for the engineer’s project.


How do I know if I meet the requirements to apply for a license as a Professional Land Surveyor?

To determine eligibility for licensure, applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the "Land Surveying Application Guidelines" prior to starting or submitting an application.  


How do I obtain an application for licensure as a Professional Engineer, Professional Land Surveyor Engineer-in-Training, or a Land Surveyor-In-Training?

For all applications, please contact Professional Credential Services, Inc. (PCS)and click on "Applicants and Candidates."  You may also read more information on our licensing page.


How can I obtain study guides for the examinations?

To obtain an examination study guide, please visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) website.

Applicants should also be aware that NCEES and their partner, Pearson VUE, have developed computer-based practice examinations, which are also available online. These practice examinations simulate the format, style, and level of difficulty of an actual examination.


How often are examinations held?

The computer-based Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) examinations are administered during four two-month windows each year. To register for one of these examinations, please visit www.ncees.org. To learn more about computer-based testing administered by Pearson VUE, please visit http://www.pearsonvue.com/ncees/.

The Professional Engineering (PE) and Professional Surveying (PS) examinations are offered twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. To learn more about these examinations or to register, please visit www.ncees.org


Is an Engineer- in-Training (EIT) or Surveyor-in-Training (SIT) certification necessary for licensure?

No. Although pursuant to 250 CMR 3.10 obtaining a certification is the most favored path to licensure, it is not required. Pursuant to 250 CMR 3.04, applicants can become licensed with or without formal education, but EIT or SIT certificates are only awarded to applicants with formal education.


How do I renew my Professional Engineers or Professional Land Surveyor license(s)?

Licenses are renewable June 30th of every even-numbered year and are only conducted online.  Renewal notices are mailed out approximately six (6) weeks prior to the expiration date.  It is the responsibility of the licensee to update contact information with the Board through the licensee’s ePortal account and to renewal licenses in a timely manner.


How do I notify the Board of an address change or name change?

To change your name or address of record with the Board, please visit DPL's "Change the Name or Address on Your Professional Licensure" page. 


How do I obtain a copy of the Massachusetts General Laws applicable to Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors?

An unofficial, electronic copy of the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) applicable to licensed professional engineers and professional land surveyors is available on the “Statutes and Regulations” page of the Board’s website.  

Please note that this copy is not an official version of the MGL. While reasonable efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the data provided, do not rely on this information without first checking an official edition of the MGL. If you are in need of legal advice or counsel, please consult a lawyer. Official copies of the MGL may be purchased from the Massachusetts State Bookstore.


How do I obtain verification of my examination and licensure for use in an application to become licensed in another jurisdiction?

Please find directions for applying for a verification on the Board’s verification page.


I would like to review my recent or previous examination. Can I request a copy from the Board or its testing vendor?

Please be advised the Board has adopted the following policy: In order to protect the security of the examination questions, no review of the examinations will be allowed. This policy applies to all examinations required by the Board.

Exception: Applicants who have taken and failed the land surveyor’s jurisprudence examination may request a breakdown of their performance on each of the eleven question classifications. However, they will not be given access to the examination questions or answers.


How many times can I take the licensing examinations?

Candidates will be allowed to repeat the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination as often as they wish. However, candidates must pay the examination fee each time they take the examination.  

Candidates will be allowed two opportunities to take the 'Principles and Practice' examination. After two failures, a candidate wishing to take the examination again will be required to: submit documentation that demonstrates to the Board's satisfaction that additional education, knowledge or experience have been gained which addresses prior deficiencies in the application or examination; submit an updated “Application Experience Page," and; submit any additional documentation of acceptable engineering or land surveying experience that will assist the Board in its review of the updated application. Please refer to 250 CMR 3.06 (8) for more information on the specific requirements of this process.


How do I check the status of my application?

To check the status of your application, please contact Professional Credential Services, Inc. (PCS):


I would like to form a Professional/Foreign Corporation. What do I need to do?

To form a Professional Engineering and/or Professional Land Surveying corporation, you must contact the Secretary of State's Office.  Please call 617-727-2850 to request an application or for general information on this process.  Please also see the detailed instructions on the Board’s website.


How can I obtain information pertaining to Professional Engineering and Professional Land Surveying Societies?

Please contact:

  • American Council of Engineering
    Companies of Massachusetts
    The Engineering Center
    One Walnut Street
    Boston, MA 02108-3616
    Tel: (617) 227-5551
    Email: acec/ma@engineers.org
    Website: www.engineers.org
  • Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section/ASCE
    The Engineering Center
    One Walnut Street
    Boston, MA 02108-3616
    Tel: (617) 227-5551
    Email: bsces@engineers.org
    Website: www.engineers.org
  • Massachusetts Society of
    Professional Engineers (MSPE)
    Ten Post Office Square
    8th Floor South
    Boston, MA 02109
    Tel: 617-692-2940
    Email: mspe-office@mspe.com
    Website: www.mspe.com
  • Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors
    and Civil Engineers (MALSCE)
    The Engineering Center
    One Walnut Street
    Boston, MA 02108-3616
    Tel: (617) 227-5551
    Email: malsce@engineers.org
    Website: www.engineers.org


My license has been expired for more than two years. Can I still renew it?

No. If your license has been expired for more than two years you may not renew it. Instead, you must submit an application for reinstatement to the Board. Copies of the application for reinstatement are available on the “Applications and Forms” page of the Board’s website.  


I have obtained a foreign degree or U.S. college level education from an institution that is not accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), but I think it should be considered acceptable. What should I do?

If you hold a foreign degree or have US based college level education that is not accredited by the ABET, then you may seek a credentials evaluation from National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The Board will accept education deemed to meet the NCEES educational standards as equivalent to an ABET degree, for the purposes of determining if you meet the educational requirements for a given application classification, under which one may apply for licensure. For information on requesting a credentials evaluation from NCEES, please visit the Council’s website.


I'm applying by comity to become licensed as a Structural Engineer in Massachusetts, but have only taken the Structural I examination in another state. How does the new NCEES 16 hour examination affect me?

At its September 30, 2010 meeting, the Board voted to continue granting comity registrations for Structural Engineers who became licensed in another state prior to the Board’s adoption of the NCEES  16 hour structural examination requirement, provided that the applicant met all other Massachusetts registration requirements at the time of their original registration.


Can Professional Land Surveyors from out-of-state obtain temporary permits to practice in Massachusetts?

Technically, yes. However, it is more practical for an out-of-state applicant to become a registered professional land surveyor. Pursuant to MGL c. 112, § 81R(b) & (c) and 250 CMR 3.09, applicants must meet the current Massachusetts registration requirements in order to obtain a temporary permit. Such requirements include both an oral examination and a Massachusetts-specific examination. Therefore, an applicant who would qualify for a temporary permit would also qualify to become a professional land surveyor.


Where can I find the requirements for professional seals?

The requirements for professional seals are outlined in the Board’s regulations at 250 CMR 5.03(1).


Do I have to indicate my license branch on my professional seal?

No. Pursuant to 250 CMR 5.03, the identification of one’s licensed branch within their professional seal is optional.


Can the professional seal be rendered digitally?

Yes. Pursuant to 250 CMR 5.03(2), engineering and land surveying seals can now be computer generated images. Licensees may also continue to use the traditional rubber stamp and embossed seal.


What are the restrictions applicable to Professional Engineers practicing land surveying?

Land surveying can be performed by engineers to the extent that the land surveying work is incidental to a civil engineering project and does not involve property line determinations. Pursuant to 250 CMR 5.01(2)(b), the delineation of any existing or proposed structure, feature or boundary relative to a property line, requires the determination of a property line and therefore, must be performed by a licensed professional land surveyor. 


If I submitted my application more than three (3) years ago, is it still considered to be active?

No. Pursuant to 250 CMR 3.03(7), after three (3) years of inactivity all applications automatically lapse. Candidates wishing to submit an application must submit a new, updated application.


If my application lapses after three years of inactivity, can it be reopened?

Yes. Pursuant to 250 CMR 3.07(3), an applicant with a lapsed application may request, in writing, that the Board reopen his or her application. At a minimum, the written request must state the reason the applicant is seeking to reopen the application, and must also include any documentation required to update the lapsed application.


How do I file a complaint against a licensed Professional Engineer, Professional Land Surveyor, or an unlicensed individual?

Pursuant to 250 CMR 7.02, anyone may file a complaint with the Board against any registrant or unlicensed individual, alleging a violation of any law or regulation within the Board’s jurisdiction. The complaint may be filed anonymously if the accompanying evidence is so compelling that testimony is not necessary to document the alleged violation.

To file a complaint, please download the Application for a Complaint form available on the Board’s Applications and Forms page. Please follow the instructions on the form and fill it out completely before mailing or faxing it back to the Division of Professional Licensure’s Office of Investigations.  Please note that complaints submitted by e-mail will not be accepted.

For more information on filing a complaint, please visit the Have a Complaint About a Licensee? page on the Division of Professional Licensure’s (DPL) website, or call DPL’s Office of Investigations at (617) 727-7406 and ask to speak with an investigator.


I am a licensed PE in another state and have a project coming up in Massachusetts.  Must I be a licensed PE in Massachusetts?

Yes.  You may apply for a COMITY license through the Board’s vendor, Professional Credentialing Services www.pcshq.com You must have an NCEES profile in order to apply for a COMITY license. 

Since applications take 2-4 months to review and process, if you need a temporary permit, a Professional Engineer registered in his or her own state of residence under equivalent qualifications may seek a permit to practice in Massachusetts for 30 days in each calendar year. If the applicant has a pending application for registration in Massachusetts, he or she may be given a permit valid until the Board acts on the permanent license application and is approved by the Board. Please be advised that applicants who are residents or have a business address in the state of Massachusetts cannot obtain a temporary permit.  A temporary permit application must be completed and submitted to Professional Credential Services (PCS).  The application may be found on PCS’ website, www.pcshq.com, in the Massachusetts PE by Comity section. https://www.pcshq.com/?page=engineeringandrelatedfields,umassachusettspetemporarypermitu  Temporary Permits are usually processed within 3 business days of receipt of the application.

PLEASE NOTE: If a temporary permit application is received by itself, before or without a COMITY application, the temporary permit will be valid for 30 days only. Candidates who plan to also seek comity in MA should submit the temporary permit application either together with their COMITY application or after submission of the comity. The temporary permit may then be granted for as long as it takes the Board to decide upon the COMITY application (a period of not more than 12 months).