Foreign Architects

Foreign Architects

There is no reciprocal registration between foreign countries and United States except for Canada. You cannot practice architecture in a U.S. jurisdiction without acquiring a license to practice in that jurisdiction. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands has an architectural registration board that regulates the profession in their jurisdiction.

Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Program

NCARB offers an alternative for certification through our Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Program.  At a minimum, this program requires:

  • A professional degree in architecture from an accredited/ validated/officially recognized architecture program
  • An architect credential in a country other than the United States and Canada (NCARB provides certification for architects registered in Canada) that:
  • Has a formal record-keeping method for disciplinary actions for architects; and
  • Provides reasonable reciprocal credentialing opportunities for U.S. architects
  • A minimum of seven years of comprehensive, unlimited practice as a credentialed architect over which the applicant exercised responsible control in the foreign country where the applicant is credentialed

Please note: Not all states accept the NCARB Certificate through the BEFA Program. Check question 25 of the Registration Board Licensing Requirements for a full list. NCARB does advocate for acceptance of the Certificate based on this program, but licensure is solely decided by individual boards. This list is subject to change without notice.

Standard Path

If you do not qualify for the BEFA or choose to pursue the traditional path toward licensure, the three main requirements you must fulfill to be licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction include education, experience, and examination.

Recognize that not all jurisdictions have adopted NCARB's education and experience standards. All questions regarding your eligibility must be directed to your jurisdiction’s registration board.

Your first step will be to apply for an NCARB Record.
If applying as a BEFA candidate, please select the “Foreign Architect” option.  If applying for the traditional path of EESA/IDP/ARE, please select the “Intern” option.

Many registration boards require applicants to have a professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Foreign-educated individuals who do not hold such a degree should have their education evaluated by NAAB through their Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) program.

Applications for an EESA must be requested from:

National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 783-2007

Fees for this service will be billed to you directly by NAAB, which is not affiliated with any architectural registration board. The application for an EESA can be accessed online here.

*Please note that New York does not accept an EESA. While the majority of registration boards have identified that they will accept this credential to satisfy the education requirement, this is subject to change and is at the sole discretion of each registration board.

Most registration boards have adopted the training requirements established for the Intern Development Program (IDP). The rules of IDP are explained in Experience Through Internship.

Every registration board requires interns to pass the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) to qualify for registration in the United States. All Canadian provinces also accept the ARE to become licensed.

If you have any questions, please contact NCARB Customer Service.

Related Publications


Rules of Conduct
Updated July 2014! The Rules of Conduct covers the recommended rules for architects for competence, conflict of interest, full disclosure, compliance with laws, and professional conduct. The Rules of Conduct is one of four publications that NCARB updates yearly. The 54 U.S. Member Boards vote any changes to the document at the NCARB Annual Meeting and Conference. An updated version is released in July or August each year.

Download (PDF, 394K)


Legislative Guidelines and Model Law and Model Regulations
Updated July 2014! The Legislative Guidelines & Model Law and Model Regulations is a guideline for registration boards and state legislatures for the regulation of registered architects.

Download (PDF, 582K)

Related Content

International Practice
NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and is engaged in similar discussions with additional countries.

Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect Program
The BEFA Program allows foreign architects to demonstrate competence to independently practice architecture, while protecting the public health, safety, and welfare to meet the examination requirement of NCARB certification.