Cadastral land surveyors are licensed by state governments. In the United States, cadastral surveys are typically conducted by the federal government, specifically through the Cadastral Surveys branch of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), formerly the General Land Office (GLO). In states that have been subdivided as per the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), the BLM Cadastral Surveys are carried out in accordance with that system. This information is required to define ownership and rights in real property (such as land, water, mineral, easements, rights-of-way), to resolve boundary disputes between neighbours, and for any subdivision of land, building development, road boundary realignment, etc.
The aim of cadastral surveys is normally to re-establish and mark the corners of original land boundaries. The first stage is to research relevant records such as land titles (deeds), easements, survey monumentation (marks on the ground) and any public or private records that provide relevant data. The job of a boundary surveyor retracing a deed or prior survey is to locate such monuments and verify their correct position. Over time, development, vandalism and acts of nature often wreak havoc on monuments, so the boundary surveyor is often forced to consider other evidence such as fence locations, woodlines, monuments on neighboring property, parole evidence and other evidence.
Monuments are marks on the ground that define location. Pegs are commonly used to mark boundary corners, and nails in bitumen, small pegs in the ground (dumpys) and steel rods are used as instrument locations and reference marks, commonly called survey control. Marks should be durable and long lasting, stable so the marks do not move over time, safe from disturbance and safe to work at. The aim is to provide sufficient marks so some marks will remain for future re-establishment of boundaries. Examples of typical man-made monuments are steel rods, pipes or bars with plastic, aluminum or brass caps containing descriptive markings and often bearing the license number of the surveyor responsible for the establishment of such. The material and marking used on monuments placed to mark boundary corners are often subject to state laws.