We report on the influence of surface-related states on the relaxation of carriers within single (Ga,In)N/GaN quantum wells. Two identical samples that differ only in the thickness of the top GaN cap layer were studied. Photoluminescence and pump-probe measurements reveal significant variations in the quantum well integrated emission and the carrier relaxation decay times in the two samples, when probing both the ground and excited states of the wells. The variations are attributed to the presence of an efficient nonradiative relaxation channel associated with the proximity of the quantum well excitations to the surface-related states in the thin-cap sample. © 2009 American Institute of Physics.