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NCARB and ARB Mutual Recognition Agreement Information

A new mutual recognition agreement with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) means that registration for eligible architects will now be quicker and easier.

Applications through this route are now open.

Before applying, check that you’re eligible and then apply through the steps below.

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Who is eligible to use the new route?

We have agreed initially that only accredited UK qualifications and qualifications which meet NCARB’s education requirements will be in scope.

UK to US applicants need to have secured UK prescribed qualifications at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 level and be registered and in good standing with ARB. Applicants should first check to determine whether they have qualifications that are within scope of the agreement.

Only accredited qualifications issued by school of architecture in the UK are in scope, and you will need to have obtained the full suite of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications in order to apply for certification by ARB. If you have ever undertaken Prescribed Examinations with ARB, registered through the EU route to registration; obtained a masters-level Irish qualification followed by a UK Part 3; or obtained UK Part 1 and Part 2 and an Irish professional practice qualification, you are not eligible to use this route.

Applicants will also then need to set up an NCARB Record and provide ARB with their NCARB Record Number before they start their full application. Information about how to do this is below.

UK to US architects will also need to complete any jurisdiction-specific requirements specified by a participating NCARB member registration board.

US to UK applicants require a current NCARB Certificate confirming successful completion of a professional degree following in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB); and have completed NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program; and have passed the NCARB Architect Registration Examination or the equivalent. US applicants must also be currently licensed/registered in good standing by one or more NCARB Member Board(s) that is a participant to the Agreement.

As part of the application process, once NCARB has transmitted the NCARB Certification to ARB, ARB will contact the applicant and inform the applicant of the additional requirements which must be satisfied. This includes US to UK applicants passing ARB’s UK Adaptation Assessment before being admitted to the UK Register.

No nationality/citizenship requirements apply under the agreement, but it is the responsibility of applicants to obtain and continue to have at all times lawful authorisation to work in the Locality in which they are seeking to be licensed/registered i.e. the United States or the United Kingdom.

UK to USA

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Contact NCARB

Having reviewed the eligibility criteria, commence the process by contacting NCARB:

    • If you are not an NCARB record holder, you will need to establish an NCARB record for which there is an application fee of $3500 USD.
    • If you are already an NCARB record holder, contact NCARB who will provide details of any additional balance which needs to be paid.

You will need an NCARB record number before you can proceed with your application. You can find details to contact NCARB here: ncarb.org/contact-us

Who: Applicant | Queries: NCARB

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Complete the ARB Certificate Application Form

Once in receipt of your NCARB record number you can complete your ARB certificate application form on the ARB portal.

There is a fee of £120 payable to ARB for provision of a certificate. 

Who: ARB| Queries: ARB

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ARB referral

ARB will review your application and your qualifications. ARB will formally confirm that you are registered with ARB, are in good standing, and meet the relevant MRA requirements. ARB will then issue a certificate and transmit it to NCARB on your behalf. You do not need to take any action at this stage.

Who: ARB| Queries: ARB

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Complete your application process with NCARB

Once ARB has issued your certificate to NCARB they will then contact you with details on the next steps to have your NCARB Record sent to the U.S. jurisdiction where you are seeking registration.

Who: Applicant| Queries: NCARB

 USA to UK

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Confirm eligibility

Review the eligibility criteria on the NCARB website: ncarb.org/ncarb-certificate/international-practice/united-kingdom

Who: Applicant | Queries: NCARB

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Contact NCARB

Having reviewed the eligibility criteria, commence the process by contacting NCARB:

    • If you are an existing NCARB record holder, NCARB will review your NCARB record, and will provide details of any additional balance which needs to be paid. They will also formally confirm you meet the eligibility .
    • If you are not an NCARB record holder, you will need to establish an NCARB record for which there is an application fee of $1280 USD.

Details for how to contact NCARB can be found here: https://www.ncarb.org/contact-us

Who: Applicant | Queries: NCARB

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NCARB referral

NCARB will refer your application to ARB and transmit a copy of your record, for which a transmittal fee will be payable. There is no need to take any action at this point.

Who: Applicant | Queries: NCARB

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Complete ARB assessment

ARB will review your application and will contact you with information about the UK Adaptation Assessment, which all US to UK architects must undertake and pass to demonstrate the ability to practise safely and effectively in the UK context. At this point, you will be required to pay the UK Adaptation Assessment fee of £2950 GBP. More information can be found here: ARB-UKAA-Procedures.pdf

Who: ARB | Queries: ARB

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Registration

Having passed the UK Adaptation Assessment, you will then be eligible to make an application to join the UK Register of Architects. Successful applicants will be provided with information on how to proceed when notified of the outcome of their UK Adaptation Assessment. You can learn more about registering for the first time here.

Who: Applicant | Queries: ARB

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Right to work

To work in the UK you must be able to prove you have the right to work. This should be sought from the UK Home Office: neither ARB nor NCARB can provide you with the right to work. You can learn more about the right to work here: gov.uk/prove-right-to-work

Who: Applicant | Queries: Home Office

ARB & NCARB MRA FAQs

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What does NCARB do?

NCARB is a non-profit organisation made up of the architectural licensing boards of 55 US states and territories. While each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders, NCARB develops and administers national programs for candidates pursuing architectural licensure and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate.

Are all NCARB jurisdictional registration boards in the US participating in the Agreement?

Individual US jurisdictions decide whether to participate in the MRA.

NCARB has published a list of the jurisdictional registration boards that are participating in the agreement at this point in time.

More than three quarters of the jurisdictional registration boards are participating in the agreement, but not all are. Jurisdictional registration boards not initially participating in the agreement will have the option to join the MRA at any point.

How much does making an application to ARB under the MRA cost for US architects?

Applicants initially need to apply to NCARB for a certificate, for which a fee will be payable and set by NCARB. There is then a fee for the ARB UK Adaptation Assessment of £2950.00.

Successful applicants will then need to pay ARB’s usual registration fee when applying to join the Register. Fees vary according to the time of year in which the application is made and are published at: arb.org.uk/architect-information/applying-for-registration-for-the-first-time/fees/

What does it cost for a UK architect to seek recognition with NCARB?

ARB needs to issue a certificate to UK architects seeking recognition, which costs £80.00.

UK architects will need to contact NCARB for details of the fee that NCARB will charge for recognition on receipt of the ARB certificate. There  will additionally be fees to register in the relevant jurisdiction.  These will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and are set by them. NCARB will be able to advise further on this https://www.ncarb.org/contact-us

Is ARB able to assist with requirements relating to visas and work permits etc.?

I’m an EU-qualified architect who has joined the register through the EU route to registration. As I’m a UK architect, can I make use of the MRA?

The MRA does not accommodate UK architects who have joined the UK Register through another reciprocal agreement, such as that operated for EU applicants, so you will not be eligible to make use of the MRA.

I’ve completed a National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB) accredited Masters in the US, but have not completed the Architect Experience Programme (AXP) and Architect Registration Examination (ARE) needed to qualify for NCARB certification, can I still have my Masters recognised under the agreement?

The MRA accommodates only those who have fulfilled all of the requirements to qualify for NCARB certification and does not provide for the ‘freestanding’ recognition of a US professional degree in architecture. Individuals who have completed a US professional degree will need to either fulfil the additional requirements necessary to secure an NCARB certificate, or apply for recognition through ARB’s Prescribed Examination route, and additionally undertake a UK Part 3 qualification through a UK school of architecture.

I have a UK degree and/or Masters qualification in architecture but I am not registered with ARB, do I qualify to have these recognised by NCARB?

Only fully-qualified architects holding the full suite of ARB accredited Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications issued by schools of architecture fall within the scope of the MRA. This means you will not be eligible under the MRA.

I’ve been through the ARB Prescribed Examination and joined the ARB Register, am I eligible to use the MRA?

The MRA applies only to ARB registrants holding ARB accredited qualifications at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 levels issued by UK schools of architecture. This means you will not be eligible under the MRA.

Where can I see the full text of the agreement?

The full text of the signed agreement can be downloaded here.