In part one of this blog series, we explained how to earn an NCARB Certificate through our Education Alternative. In this post, we’ll cover how internationally licensed architects can obtain certification through an additional alternative path. Note: NCARB updated this blog in April 2023. 


Learn More About the Foreign Architect Path

Want more detailed information about the path to U.S. licensure as an international applicant? Our Foreign Architect Path Manual is the perfect resource for you!

In July 2016, NCARB launched an updated alternative path for internationally licensed architects to pursue certification by meeting U.S. experience and examination requirements—aligning with our goal of removing unnecessary barriers to practice and promoting diversity in the profession. Since then, several architects have been able to enjoy all exclusive benefits that the Certificate offers, and use their NCARB Certificate to earn a license in a U.S. jurisdiction.

So how exactly does an internationally licensed architect apply for an NCARB Certificate and use that Certificate to get licensed in the United States? We’re glad you asked.

An internationally licensed architect is defined by NCARB as an individual who holds a current architecture registration in good standing—allowing the use of the title “architect” and the unlimited practice of architecture—in a country other than the U.S. or Canada. Your country's credentialing authority must also have a system for tracking disciplinary action for architects, and you must have no record of disciplinary action.

Applying for the Foreign Architect Path

If you fit into the description above, your next step is to create an active NCARB Record and make sure you list your international license and education in your Record. When you enter your licensure information, you should see a box prompting you to indicate interest in the Foreign Architect Path. If you need help with this step, contact us online or at 202-879-0520.

Note: Some jurisdictions do not accept NCARB Certificates earned through this path. To find out if your desired jurisdiction accepts a Certificate earned through the Foreign Architect Path, visit the licensing requirements tool and contact your board.

Submitting Paperwork

Note: NCARB cannot accept forms or transcripts submitted directly by the applicant. Official paperwork must come directly from your credentialing authority or university.

Once you’ve indicated your interest, you’ll need to have official paperwork submitted verifying your education and licensure before you are accepted into the Foreign Architect Path.

  • Foreign License: Complete Part A of the Credential Verification Form, used to verify the architecture license issued by your country. Then, allow for the registration/license/credentialing authority of your foreign architecture license (not your university) to complete Part B—they will be the ones submitting the final form to NCARB.
  • School Transcripts: You can have your transcripts verified and included in your NCARB Record in one of two ways:
    1. Electronic Copy: Use your school’s electronic transcript request form to have a transcript sent to NCARB. Simply enter as the recipient email address and include your NCARB Record number in the comments/notes section (if available).
    2. Physical Copy: Download and send the transcript request form and any fee to your school(s). The school must submit your transcript directly to NCARB.

All documents submitted to NCARB must be in English. If your university does not issue transcripts in English, a translator or translation service must provide the translated documents directly to NCARB and:

  • Provide verifiable contact information including: name, email, and phone number.
  • Confirm the name of the university or entity the transcript was received from.
  • Confirm method the transcript was delivered for translation (physical mail or email)
  • Include confirmation that the translation was completed using the original, sealed document.

Please note that both the Credential Verification Form and official transcript must be completed/submitted in English. Review translation requirements.

For a detailed outline of the application process, check out our Documentation Checklist.

Experience and Examination

After you’ve created your Record and submitted your supporting documents, NCARB will review your Record and contact you regarding your eligibility for the Foreign Architect Path. You will then need to satisfy NCARB’s experience and examination requirements for certification through the Foreign Architect Path. 

  • Experience: Complete the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®). Some of your foreign experience (up to 1,860 hours) may count toward the AXP requirement, but you will only be able to complete the AXP outside of the U.S. if you are working under an architect licensed in the U.S. or Canada. You can report qualified experience earned at any time in your professional career for 100% credit toward the program requirements. Note: You can start earning experience before you have been made eligible for the Foreign Architect Path. 
  • Examination: Pass the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). The ARE is a multi-part exam made of six divisions. You can begin scheduling ARE divisions after NCARB has verified your transcript and license and you have paid your Certification application fee.

Once you've completed the AXP and ARE, you'll need to submit a second Credential Verification Form to NCARB so we can confirm your license remains in good standing.


The Foreign Architect Path application includes a fee, but you will not be billed until after your credentials are approved. The application fee does not include the cost of completing the exam. Learn more about the fees associated with establishing and maintaining an NCARB Certificate.

Earning a Certificate and Getting Licensed

Once you have paid the fees and NCARB has confirmed you meet the requirements for certification through this path, you will be issued a Certificate number. You will then be able to use your NCARB Certificate to apply for reciprocal licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction that accepts the Foreign Architect Path.

Still have questions about earning a license to practice in the United States? Our customer service team is here to assist.