It’s been years in the making but Australia and US architect registration authorities have finally reached a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) for cross-border licencing of architects.

The MRA came into effect 1 January and will allow Australian and New Zealand architects to register with one of 29 participating US architectural licensing boards without further assessment.

Under the agreement, signed by US, Australian and New Zealand registration authorities, Australian architects with a permanent residency/citizenship and at least 6,000 hours of post-licensure/registration experience will be able to seek registration from a participating licensor to work as a sole practitioner on US soil.

Australians will need to apply for a certificate of registration through the US National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) which will be honoured by all 29 jurisdictions who’ve accepted the arrangement.

NCARB says the decision comes after years of internal research and negotiation which concluded that the path to licensure in Australia and New Zealand parallels that of US requirements. But while momentum towards the MRA did pick up over the past few years it has been on the cards for much longer in reality.

It has spawned out of the establishment of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the ensuing formation of the APEC Architect agreement in 2005.

The APEC Architect project was founded to facilitate the provision of architectural services between 15 participating economies around the Pacific Rim. The fundamental idea behind the project, says the APEC Architect website, was to facilitate bilateral or multi-lateral arrangements between economies so that senior architects can fast-track cross-border registration procedures.

Since then, agreements have been made with countries like Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Tapei and Singapore, but the US is the biggest economy to sign an MRA with Australia to date.

It will allow Australian architects to practice as sole practitioners within the US and not just as architects in association or in a consulting role.

Head of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA), Kate Doyle has previously said that mutual agreements like this one with the US will be key to the success of the APEC agreement and its participation numbers from Australian architects.

At time of print, 32 Australian architects have been admitted to the Australian section of the APEC Architect Register.

The 29 US licensing boards who have accepted the arrangement:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon 
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

For more information on APEC visit here
For more information on the MRA contact the AACA
View the Mutual Recognition Arrangement here