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Information for architects paying their own annual retention fee.

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

The retention fee

Q1. How much is the retention fee for 2021?

The annual retention fee for 2021 is £119. In order to remain on the register your fee must be paid by 31 December 2020.

Q2. Why do we have a retention fee?

Only those on the Architects Register can legally call themselves an architect in the UK and use their regulated status as a market edge over unregulated competitors.  Architects must pay an annual fee to remain on the Register.

The fee is our main source of income for funding our regulatory activities.  We are able to charge for a small number of other activities which we currently do on a ‘users pay’/cost recovery basis only.

Money raised from misuse of title and architect disciplinary fines are paid to the HM Treasury, not ARB.  In the area of title regulation we can only attempt to recover legal costs, a small fraction of the total expenditure of action, which is not always possible to recover from the defendant.

It is important for any organisation to have reserves to cover unforeseen events that might arise as well as legal challenges, which all regulators can face.  While there is a set level of reserves we must maintain and cannot drop below, our Board can divert funds from these reserves to help us respond to unbudgeted expenditure demands as needed to minimise impact on the fee. This is what has been done for 2021.

Q3. Why is the payment deadline 31 December?

In regards to the retention fee, the Architects Act requires us to work to a ‘calendar year’ (1 January to 31 December).  If the payment deadline was set part way through the year that would be covered by the fee it would cause ambiguity over registered status.  For example if the payment deadline was 28 February and an architect chose to resign on 27 February, or did not pay their fee, they will have been listed on the Register for two months inappropriately.  A 31 December payment deadline means only those who have paid their fee for the following year will be registered from 1 January.

Q4. Why can’t the fee be paid in instalments?

We have carefully considered the feasibility of this option however, in regards to the retention fee, the Architects Act requires us to work to a ‘calendar year’ (1 January to 31 December). 

If the fee was paid in portions but not all payments were made before the year end, it would effectively result in terms of registration shorter than the defined calendar year.  In addition, we believe the additional resources (and therefore funds) required to deliver an instalment payment system override the benefits of the approach.

Q5. How is the fee used?

In addition to delivering our general statutory remit, the 2021 fee will be used to deliver key strategic projects that ensure we continue to have an effective regulatory system that enables the profession to thrive and assures the public of architects’ competence.

Strategic projects
• Supporting architects and other stakeholders through the regulatory changes of EU Exit.
• Supporting schools of architecture and architects with guidance on standards relating to the Building Safety legislation and policies on tackling the climate emergency.
• Continuing its wide-ranging research to inform the review of the competences required to join and remain on the Architects Register.
• Initiating improvements to the policies and systems which underpin the prescription process – the way ARB recognises the UK qualifications that provide access to the Register.
• Completing a review of ARB’s professional conduct processes and systems to further improve consumer protection standards and uphold the reputation of the profession.
• Improving the online Register to help make it easier for potential clients to confirm whether someone is a genuine architect and make an informed choice about who to hire for their project.
• Updating cyber security and IT infrastructure, and investing in new digital systems that improve access to ARB and will meet the demands of post-COVID working practices.

Statutory remit
• Maintaining the Architects Register, a public tool used to confirm whether someone is a UK architect
• Setting the UK standards required to join the Register
• Ensuring only appropriate applicants from the UK and overseas join the Register
• Setting and enforcing the professional standards expected of UK architects
• Taking action against those who call themselves an architect illegally
• Acting as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects

You can follow this link for more information about our duties and the work we do – About ARB.

Q6. How is the level of the fee decided?

The fee is set by our Board, who take into consideration our statutory responsibilities, 3 Year Strategic Plan and Business Plan as well as ARB’s other financial commitments when making their decision.  The level of the fee is considered very carefully and every effort is made to balance the impact on the profession and our requirement to deliver our statutory responsibilities under the Act.

Who should pay

Q7. Who is required to pay the fee?

Architects who wish to remain on the Register and continue to call themselves an architect should pay the retention fee.

Q8. Can my employer take responsibility for paying my fee?

Anyone, including your employer, is welcome to make the payment on your behalf however it is your responsibility to ensure your annual retention fee is paid.

Q9. I’m retired/not currently practising, do I have to pay the full fee?

Yes, if you wish to retain your registration.  We recognise that some membership organisations have different membership categories which charge different levels of fees. As we are a statutory regulator, not a membership organisation, continued registration is dependent on a fee being paid.

If you are fully retired from practice and don’t undertake any work related to the design and construction of buildings, you may refer to yourself socially as an architect even if you are not on the Register.

Q10. I’m on maternity/paternity leave, how can I ensure I receive notifications about the fee?

The Architects Act requires that we maintain an up to date Register and registration is dependent on the payment of the fee. The Act does not make exceptions and consequently, we are unable to make exceptions for individuals on maternity or paternity leave.

If you wish to remain on the Register, we recommend you provide us with a secondary personal email address that we can use to send you information about the fee.

You may also wish to change your postal address to your personal, rather than business, address during your period of leave. If you work in a practice, we recommend asking your practice colleagues to forward you payment reminders.

Q11. I'm currently not employed, do I have to pay the full fee?

Yes, if you wish to retain your registration. 

We recognise that some membership organisations have different membership categories which charge different levels of fees.  As we are a statutory regulator, not a membership organisation, continued registration is dependent on a fee being paid. 

We understand that it may be difficult to pay the fee if you are not employed. If you are facing financial difficulties for any reason you may wish to contact the Architects Benevolent Society who can help people get back on their feet. Their support is means tested but eligibility doesn’t depend on being a member of any professional body and is instead based on your work experience in the UK.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss your circumstances with us in confidence to understand what your options may be, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.

Q12. What will happen if I don’t pay?

As the Register is a public tool we are required to ensure it is accurate and up to date. The Architects Act 1997 requires us to remove from the Register those who do not pay their fee by the deadline. We do so swiftly after the deadline to avoid any ambiguity over the registered and regulated status of those on the Register, to help ensure trust is maintained in the profession.

If you are removed for non-payment of the retention fee you will no longer be able to legally use the title architect.

Rejoining the Register after being removed for non-payment is more expensive than if you let us know you wish to resign and then later request to rejoin. If you are not practising and no longer wish to remain on the Register you will need to advise us of this before the fee payment deadline of 31 December 2020.

Rejoining the Register within two years of your resignation is a straightforward process. After two years your application will be assessed by the Competency Standards Group to ensure you are competent to practise. For more information about resigning from the Register, click here.

How to pay

Q13. What methods can I use to pay my fee?

Direct Debit

Setting up a Direct Debit is a quick and simple way to pay your fee and means your payment will be made automatically so you won’t have to remember to pay the fee each year.

To pay by Direct Debit you can complete this form and return it to us by post, or call us on +44 (0)20 7580 5861. You need to get your Direct Debit form to us by 13 November 2020 so that we can set it up in time for the payment to be taken on or around 3 December 2020.

Online – credit/debit card

You can pay securely using your credit/debit card through our payment portal. All you need to hand is your card and your registration number. We accept Mastercard, Visa Credit, Visa Debit, Maestro and JCB. We are unable to accept American Express or Diners. We do not charge for paying by credit/debit card. You can also pay by credit/debit card over the phone by calling us on +44 (0) 20 7580 5861.

Online – bank transfer

To pay online by bank transfer from the UK, please use the details below and quote your registration number as the reference so we know who the payment is for.

Bank:                                 NatWest Plc
Account number:            36172618
Sort code:                         60-09-15


Please note:  As part of COVID-19 related safety measures, we will not be accepting fee payments by cash, cheque, banker’s draft or postal order this year.

Q14. Will I be notified of what I need to pay?

Yes.  We are required to send a hard copy statutory payment notice to all architects at their registered address.  If you have already paid your fee by the date this notice goes out it will show a balance due of £0.00 which means you have nothing further to pay.

We also send reminder emails and text messages to architects who have provided us with email addresses and mobile telephone numbers.

It’s important that we hold update to date details for you so please inform us immediately if your name, address, contact details or account details have changed.  You can update your details quickly and easily yourself through the Registrant Services website.  Alternatively, you can contact us and let us know what details you’d like to change.

Q15. How will I know my payment has been received?

We will email a certificate and receipt to you shortly after your payment has been successfully processed.

On occasions we have found the email can go directly to a junk or spam folder.  If you have checked these folders and still cannot locate your certificate or receipt, you can contact us and we will look into the matter for you.

Q16. Why are Direct Debit payments taken around 3 December?

Although the payment deadline is 31 December 2020, Direct Debits are collected in advance of this date to give us time to resolve any payment issues that may occur.

If there are issues with your Direct Debit we will contact you so you can pay by a different method. Please contact us if you continue to receive reminders after you believe your payment has been made.

Q17. What is the best way to pay if I’m abroad?

We recommend paying your fee online with a credit/debit card if you are paying from overseas. It is possible to pay by BACS however this can incur charges of up to £12 and can also be effected by currency conversion so that the correct amount doesn’t reach us. If you’d still prefer to pay this way, please contact us for more on the details you’ll need to pay via this method.