Architects’ registration boards in UK and US have reached an agreement that enables architects to benefit from a more straightforward process to get licensed in both countries. The Mutual Recognition Agreement results from a negotiation between the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) in the United States and its United Kingdom counterpart, the Architects Registration Board (ARB). This week, the two organizations announced that the agreement has been signed by both parties. It will become active on April 25, 2023, allowing architects to apply for reciprocal licensure in the US and the UK.
This agreement is the result of over nearly four years of research and negotiation between NCARB and the ARB. In 2018 NCARB initiated a process of evaluating the requirements for registration in the United Kingdom, comparing it to the licensing process in the US. The analysis found a substantial overlap between the standards in both countries. These similarities form the base of the mutual agreement, which will provide a streamlined path for architects seeking reciprocal licensure in the two countries, along with the subsequent professional opportunities that could come with it.
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,” Alan Kershaw, chair of the Architects Registration Board.
Earlier in June 2022, the agreement was ratified by all NCARD member boards, marking an important milestone in this process. While the agreement has passed, the 55 U.S. jurisdictions can independently decide whether to adopt it, according to the process outlines on the official NCARB website. In the UK, The Mutual Recognition Agreement has received final approval from both the government and the ARB, allowing for the agreement to be implemented. According to the NCARB, the document contains three eligibility requirements for architects: they must possess a valid license from their home jurisdiction in the US or UK, have lawful authorization to work in the locality where they are registered, and hold an active and qualifying NCARB Certificate.
The US currently holds similar agreements with Canada and Mexico, signed in 2014, and Australia and New Zealand, signed in 2017. Meanwhile, the ARB does not recognize any other certificate outside the UK. The only exceptions are the registrations issued before Brexit, while the European Union's Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive was still active.
Both the UK and the US present many opportunities for architects, so it only stands to reason that many UK-based architectural offices have had a significant presence in the United States. The New York skyline is one proof of the phenomenon, with Foster + Partners-designed Hearst Tower, David Chipperfield Architects’ Bryant Tower, or the 3 World Trade Center office building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The vice-versa also applies, with many US-based offices being active in the United Kingdom. London’s The Scalpel by KPF or SOM’s Stratford Skyscraper are just a few examples. The Mutual Recognition Agreement is bound to encourage this type of influence between the two countries.