International Routes – Frequently Asked Questions
The Architects Act 1997 has changed. ARB now has the power to determine which international qualifications it wishes to recognise through the establishment of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).
The information below is the latest we have available. If you have individual questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we are unable to provide any additional guidance by telephone.
What is the Professional Qualifications Act? How does it affect ARB?
The Professional Qualifications Act 2022 is a piece of legislation that provides a framework for recognising international qualifications and experience, and how regulatory bodies, such as ARB, can do this.
In particular, it allows the Government to enable regulatory bodies to establish mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with partner organisations around the world in order to facilitate professional registration.
Though the general provisions within the Professional Qualifications Act apply to all regulated professions, it additionally contains some specific proposals which have led to changes to the Architects Act 1997:
- The ARB Board is able to set out how it recognises international qualifications in its rules for the purposes of entry to the UK Register.
- The Board also has the power to apply additional requirements to those holding international qualifications and experience prior to registration.
What has ARB done to implement the new legislation in relation to the recognition of international qualifications?
To support the development of the new international routes we have developed a series of principles to provide a framework for making decisions about whether to pursue requests to develop recognition agreements. The principles also set out the range of information we will need to make proportionate decisions about the compatibility of registration and accreditation requirements.
The principles act as a foundation for the development of routes, as well as providing clarity and transparency about our approach. They are grouped into three sets to support the development of the following:
- the overarching approach to the new routes;
- the additional measures individuals holding international qualifications will need to meet prior to registration; and
- mutual recognition agreements and memoranda of understanding.
Following consultation, the new international route will operate on the basis of ARB establishing mutual recognition agreements or memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with counterpart organisations in other countries.
What is an MRA/MOU?
These are agreements where two or more regulatory organisations in different countries agree to recognise each other’s qualifications. This is normally because they have checked the comparability of the qualifications and agree to see those qualifications as being equivalent to their own. This then makes it easier for an architect who qualified in one country to register in the other, because they are already seen to meet certain standards and are safe to practise. It is typical for countries to apply additional tests or assessments to applicants using such agreements to ensure that they have an appropriate level of competence to practice safely in that country.
Who will the new MRAs and MOUs apply to?
For overseas architects coming to the UK, eligibility under the MRA/MoU route requires individuals to hold appropriately recognised qualifications (which are covered by the relevant MRA or MoU) as well as successfully completing an assessment prior to registration with ARB.
For UK architects wishing to make use of MRA/MoUs to register overseas individuals to hold appropriately recognised qualifications (which are covered by the relevant MRA or MoU) as well as successfully completing any additional requirements asked by our MRA partners.
It’s important to note that not all registered architects in the UK and overseas will be eligible to make use of agreements by having achieved registered status: each agreement will set out the qualifications that are in scope.
For more information about our MRA with NCARB in the USA please see here.
For more information about our MRA with AACA and NZRAB in Australia and New Zealand please see here.
What will ARB’s new international routes to registration look like?
ARB’s new international routes to registration will be as follows:
What does this mean for the recognition of European qualifications?
A Joint Recommendation for an MRA has been submitted by the Architects Registration Board and the Architects Council of Europe and has been acknowledged within the formal governance structures of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Retained EU recognition law has been revoked.
Although we are working to put new arrangements with the EU in place under the terms of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, this is likely to take time.
ARB has therefore agreed that for the present time, it will maintain the existing ‘interim’ arrangements that have been in place since 1 January 2021, and will unilaterally recognise the qualifications that fall within the scope of these arrangements for a further period of time. This will be kept under review.
As a result, individuals will continue to be eligible to apply for registration if:
- they hold qualifications that are listed in the ‘frozen’ version of Annex V.7.1 of the former Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, as it existed at 11pm on 31 December 2020,
- and have access to the profession in the state that the qualification was issued (or have additionally obtained an ARB prescribed Part 3 qualification),
The version of the Annex, and the one which we will continue to rely on under these arrangements, was published by the European Commission in February 2020.
Once a new UK/EU MRA becomes operational, our unilateral recognition will cease and be replaced by the terms of that agreement.
We understand this is a complex area under current circumstances. If you would like to discuss your own situation in more detail and how these arrangements may apply to you, please contact us by emailing email@example.com.
Who else is ARB working with to develop MRAs/MOUs?
Noting we have signed an MRA with NCARB in the US and AACA and NZRAB in Australia and New Zealand, we are also developing MRAs/MOUs with our counterparts as follows:
- European Union (Architects Council of Europe)
- Hong Kong (Architects Registration Board Hong Kong/Hong Kong Institute of Architects)
We will provide updates about the agreements we are working on as progress is made.
Alongside the development of these agreements, we continue to have evolving discussions with other countries and their regulators about other potential agreements. As and when we begin working with new international partner organisations, we will share further information as soon as our organisations have agreed we are able to do so.
What criteria does ARB use in order to develop an MRA or MOU?
As noted above, we have developed a dedicated set of principles upon which we will base our decisions to engage with a counterpart organisation and work with them to develop an MRA or MOU.
These principles include criteria about proportionality, resources, reciprocity, equivalence, transparency and robustness, as well as the public interest.
Before formally engaging with any counterpart organisation we will undertake information gathering and analysis to ensure that our criteria will be met. Where we are unable to find sufficient a correlation between ARB’s requirements and those of a counterpart organisation, it’s unlikely that we would take steps to then begin drafting an MRA or MOU. We will however provide reasons for and feedback in relation to our decision.
Are there any restrictions within any of MRAs/MOUs?
Not all MRA/MOUs will be the same; the qualifications that fall within scope of each agreement and other eligibility requirements will vary.
The reasons for this may be linked to the initial levels of equivalence and compatibility that we identify between ARB-accredited qualifications and their international equivalents; the objectives of the initial agreement etc.
We are taking a considered approach to developing MRAs/MOUs initially and these are being founded on qualifications which are similar to those which the Board accredits in terms of structure, content and duration.
In some cases we will be including review clauses within our MRAs/MOUs so that we can consider broadening the number of qualifications that fall in scope after an initial period of operation. Depending on the position and the outcomes of these reviews, it may be that ARB and relevant counterparts can bring additional qualifications into scope where there is supporting evidence to do so and the standards of entry to the profession continue to be upheld.
What will the ARB’s new UK Adaptation Assessment involve?
Internationally trained architects who wish to access the UK Register and who hold qualifications within the scope of an MRA will need to undertake ARB’s UK Adaptation Assessment.
As part of the UK adaptation assessment, individuals need to:
- provide a reflective career summary;
- respond to scenario based questions which focus on practising in a UK-specific context;
- be assessed through a professional interview against the UK Adaptation Assessment Criteria to demonstrate that they are competent to practise architecture in the UK
ARB needs to be assured that all those joining its Register are competent to do so. Whilst the Adaptation Assessment is being designed to test an individual’s preparedness for practice within a UK context, our intention is also that it will be a supportive mechanism to assist internationally trained architects to prepare for practice in the UK.
The UK Adaptation Assessment applies only to architects qualified in full overseas and who meet the requirements of an MRA as confirmed by an MRA partner organisation. The UK Adaptation Assessment is not as an alternative to undertaking a UK Part 3 and is available only to those qualifying under a relevant registration level MRA/MoU.
How much does the UK Adaptation Assessment cost/how much does it cost to register under an MRA/MoU?
The fee for undertaking the UK Adaptation Assessment is £2950. This will be kept under review as the new international routes are established.
Once the UK Adaptation Assessment has been successfully passed, individuals will then be able to apply for registration.
Are ARB’s international partners putting in place an approach that is similar to the UK Adaptation Assessment?
UK architects who hold qualifications that are within scope of our MRAs will be required to undertake an assessment in some countries or territories that we have agreed to work with.
For more information about what is required under our MRA with NCARB in the USA please see here.
For more information about what is required under our MRA with AACA and NZRAB in Australia and New Zealand please see here.
What are the benefits of MRAs/MOUs?
These MRAs are based on the principle of mutually recognising architects’ qualifications. This means that we and the regulators with whom we enter into agreements would automatically recognise certain qualifications as being an equivalent standard to our own. The result is that UK architects with eligible qualifications can more easily register and work in the counterpart country, and vice versa. Each agreement will set out the qualifications that are in its scope.
The UK is among the world’s leaders in architecture and the new agreements will support trade and collaboration. The profession is truly international, with one in ten architects on the UK Register based outside the UK. Mutual recognition agreements will reinforce this further, helping eligible professionals to register across countries, sharing their skills and services and boosting the UK’s trade with the world.
At the same time, any new agreement will maintain high standards and safety. The Register we maintain provides reassurance to the public that only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise. That’s why any agreement will have been built on high regulatory standards that already help to protect the public in each country.
It’s also why any new application routes using the agreements will include the UK Adaptation Assessment to test an architects’ understanding of the UK-specific context of practising architecture. This will ensure that anyone who joins the Register meets the standard required to practise safely and effectively in the UK.
I am a qualified architect who is licensed/registered internationally and I have checked with the relevant ARB MRA partner organisation who have confirmed I am eligible to apply to ARB for registration in the UK under the relevant MRA. I have also already completed an ARB-accredited Part 3 qualification. Do I still need to complete ARB’s UK Adaptation Assessment under the MRA route in order to register in the UK?
The Board has agreed that where an applicant has met relevant requirements of an MRA in full and is eligible to apply for registration under ARB’s MRA route, that an ARB-accredited Part 3 qualification will be accepted by way of an alternative to passing the UK Adaptation Assessment. Applicants are reminded that where an ARB-accredited Part 3 qualification has been issued more than 24 months prior to the date of an application for registration being made, additional information about competence to practise will be required as part of the application. Please see here.