Laser processing of shape memory alloys (SMAs) promises to enable the multifunctional capabilities needed for medical device applications. Prior to clinical implementation, the surface characterisation of laser processed SMA is essential in order to understand any adverse biological interaction that may occur. The current study systematically investigated two Ni-49.8 at.% Ti SMA laser processed surface finishes, including as-processed and polished, while comparing them to a chemically etched parent material. Spectrographic characterisation of the surface included; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), auger electron spectroscopy (AES), and Raman spectroscopy. Corrosion performance and Ni ion release were also assessed using potentiodynamic cyclic polarization testing and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), respectively. Results showed that surface defects, including increased roughness, crystallinity and presence of volatile oxide species, overshadowed any possible performance improvements from an increased Ti/Ni ratio or inclusion dissolution imparted by laser processing. However, post-laser process mechanical polishing was shown to remove these defects and restore the performance, making it comparable to chemically etched NiTi material.