Austin, TX—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)’s Member Boards have passed a resolution ratifying a new Mutual Recognition Agreement with the United Kingdom’s Architects Registration Board (ARB), expanding the reach of U.S. architects.
The agreement will enable eligible architects to benefit from a more straightforward process to get licensed/registered, helping them to establish professional contacts, seek work, and perform services as a registered architect in each country.
“The arrangement is an exciting opportunity for architects seeking to expand their careers internationally,” said NCARB President Alfred Vidaurri Jr., NCARB, NOMA, FAIA. “One of the primary benefits enjoyed by NCARB Certificate holders is the ability to pursue reciprocal licensure, and this agreement expands those benefits to a new continent.”
The agreement is based on similarities in architecture licensing standards established by NCARB and the requirements for registration in the United Kingdom. Modeled after similar arrangements with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the agreement has three key requirements. To apply for a reciprocal license in either country, architects must:
- Hold a valid license/registration in good standing from their home licensing authority (the United States or United Kingdom)
- Have lawful authorization to work in the locality in which they are registered
- Hold an active NCARB Certificate
“The U.K. and U.S.A. are among the world’s leaders in architecture. A mutual recognition agreement will reinforce this further, helping eligible professionals to register between the two countries, sharing their skills and services,” said Alan Kershaw, chair of the Architects Registration Board. “We’re therefore delighted to see the agreement has been approved by NCARB’s boards. This is a significant step towards its completion and one that many architects in the UK will be pleased to see.”
Establishing the Agreement
This agreement is the result of over nearly four years of research and negotiation between NCARB and the ARB. In late 2018, then-NCARB President Gregory L. Erny, FAIA, NCARB, Hon. FCARM, appointed education, experience, and examination subject-matter experts to assemble documents and review the requirements for registration in the United Kingdom. Based on their analysis, the review team found that a rigorous and standardized registration process is in place in the United Kingdom that parallels NCARB’s education, experience, and assessment of competency.
Currently, the agreement requires U.S. architects to be certified through the standard path to NCARB certification—holding a degree from an accredited architecture program, completing NCARB’s experience program, and passing NCARB’s national licensing examination. However, the agreement includes a stipulation that NCARB and the ARB must review the requirements for reciprocity within three years of the agreement’s implementation to consider potential updates. Similar requirements will apply to U.K. architects, who are required to have secured ARB-prescribed qualifications issued in the U.K.
Implementing the Agreement
NCARB’s membership approved the agreement at its Annual Business Meeting in June. Because each U.S. jurisdiction is responsible for the regulation of architecture within its borders, each U.S. jurisdiction must individually determine if they will accept the Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Additionally, the ARB must review, approve, and sign the agreement. Further, U.K. legislation is needed before the ARB is able to do so. This is expected to be in place by early 2023.
The agreement will then go into effect 60 days after it has been signed by both parties. At that time, eligible architects will be able to pursue reciprocal licensure between the United States and the United Kingdom following the terms of the agreement.
To learn more about earning a license to practice architecture abroad, visit www.ncarb.org/international.
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural licensing boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB, in collaboration with these boards, facilitates the licensure and credentialing of architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
To achieve these goals, NCARB works with its Member Boards and volunteers to develop and facilitate standards for licensure, including the national examination and experience program. NCARB also recommends regulatory guidelines for licensing boards and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate. Connect with NCARB on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is an independent professional regulator, established by Parliament as a statutory body, through the Architects Act, in 1997. It is accountable to government. The law gives ARB a number of core functions:
- To ensure only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practice as architects. ARB does this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects.
- ARB maintains a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and are fit to practice.