The system is in use in some capacity in most of the country, but large portions use other systems. The territory under the jurisdiction of the Thirteen Colonies at the time of independence did not adopt the PLSS, with the exception of the area that became the Northwest Territory and some of the Southern states. This territory is now Georgia, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The old Cherokee lands in Georgia use the term section as a land designation, but does not define the same area as the section used by the PLSS. Maine uses a variant of the system in unsettled parts of the state. Other major exceptions to PLSS are:
California, before statehood in 1850, was only crudely surveyed with the boundaries of Spanish and Mexican land grants (ranchos) only roughly described; since statehood the PLSS system has been used mostly throughout.
Hawaii adopted a system based on the Kingdom of Hawaii native system in place at the time of annexation.
Louisiana recognizes early French and Spanish descriptions called arpents, particularly in the southern part of the state, as well as PLSS descriptions.
New Mexico uses the PLSS, but has several areas that retain original metes and bounds left over from Spanish and Mexican rule. These take the form of land grants similar to areas of Texas and California.
Ohio's Virginia Military District was surveyed using the metes and bounds system. Areas in northern Ohio (primarily what originally was the Connecticut Western Reserve) were surveyed with an earlier standard, often referred to as Congressional Survey townships, which are just five miles (8 km) on each side instead of six. Hence, there are 25 sections per township there, rather than 36.
Texas has a hybrid of its own early system, based on Spanish land grants, and a variation of the PLSS.
Wisconsin had French settlement prior to the PLSS in the areas of Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. Both have small amounts of the long, narrow French lots along some water frontage.
Michigan had French settlement prior to the PLSS along the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and near Sault Ste. Marie, Marquette, and Ypsilanti. These were all examples of the French "long lots".