NCARB to Launch Alternative Path to Certification for Foreign Architects

This July, foreign architects will be able to pursue NCARB certification by meeting U.S. experience and examination requirements.

Washington, DC—Starting July 1, licensed foreign architects seeking NCARB certification will have the option to complete two programs required for registration in the United States: the Architectural Experience Program(AXP) and the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).

Awarded by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the NCARB Certificate facilitates registration among U.S. jurisdictions and Canadian provinces.

To be eligible for this alternative path, foreign architects must meet the following requirements:

  • Education: Have a recognized education credential in an architecture program that leads to registration/credential in a foreign country.
  • Registration: Hold a credential in a foreign country that has a formal record-keeping mechanism for disciplinary actions in the practice of architecture.

To gain certification, eligible applicants will need to pass the ARE, the national exam used to test a licensure candidate’s knowledge and skills. Applicants will also need to complete the AXP, a program designed to guide licensure candidates through the various stages of architectural practice. Plus, applicants will be able to document eligible experience from any point in their career.

“This new path will simplify the process for foreign architects who are licensed, but do not currently meet the requirements for NCARB certification,” said NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong. “By requiring completion of the AXP and ARE, this group will be held to the nationally accepted standards for licensure in the United States.”

The new alternative will replace the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Program, eliminating the need for foreign architects to prepare a dossier for committee review, participate in an interview, and document seven years of credentialed practice in a foreign country. The new procedures were adopted through a vote of the NCARB membership to amend the NCARB Certification Guidelines.



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.