U.S. and U.K. sign reciprocal architecture license agreement

Cross-pond Registration

U.S. and U.K. sign reciprocal architecture license agreement

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the U.K.’s Architects Registration Board (ARB) signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement. (Courtesy National Council of Architectural Registration Boards)

The United States and United Kingdom have been working on a reciprocity agreement for architecture licensure between the countries since 2018. This week the two boards announced that both entities have signed the agreement and starting on April 25 architects in the U.K. and U.S. will be able to apply for licensure across the pond.

The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) allows National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)–certified architects practicing in one of the 55 jurisdictional licensing boards to receive licensure with the U.K.’s counterpart, the Architects Registration Board, and vice versa. Its ratification is the result of research and negotiation between the two licensing boards that began in 2018. This analysis confirmed the registration process in the U.K. matches the rigor and expertise of that in the U.S.

The NCARB approved the agreement at its 2022 Annual Business Meeting, and the U.K. followed suit earlier this year.

The agreement is modeled after previously established ones between the NCARB and the architect licensing boards in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to granting licensure the agreement opens up a new professional network for architects in both countries.

“This agreement will allow many NCARB-certified U.S. architects to increase their engagement internationally while having confidence in the shared commitment to strict standards of health and safety,” said NCARB President Bayliss Ward in a statement.

“Signing this MRA—creating a reciprocal arrangement whereby UK architects can register and practice in participating jurisdictions within the United States—is an exciting moment for the sector. The agreement helps to open up opportunities for cooperation between individuals and firms in the UK and United States in a way which upholds standards,” added Chief Executive and Registrar, Architects Registration Board Hugh Simpson.

Similar to its predecessors in other countries, the MRA has three main requirements architects seeking reciprocal licensure must meet. These requirements are: a valid license in their respective home country, lawful authorization to work where they are registered, and possession of an active and qualifying NCARB Certificate.

“Through this agreement, NCARB celebrates a new relationship with the United Kingdom as it continues to enhance the value of the NCARB Certificate as a facilitator of domestic and international mobility for many U.S. licensed practitioners. We are pleased to sign this Mutual Recognition Agreement emphasizing a shared approach of appropriate rigor in guiding the licensure of architects, thus furthering our mutual desire to enhance the global health, safety, and welfare of the public,” said NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong.

While the agreement has passed, it is up to the 55 individual jurisdictions in the U.S. to decide whether to adopt the Mutual Recognition Agreement.

The reciprocity agreement was among the key initiatives the NCARB worked on in 2022 and documented in its annual report. Other recent actions by the board include an effort to increase the number of BIPOC registered architects and up the number of architects seeking licensure to pre-pandemic levels.