Architects now free to work between US, Canada and Mexico

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United States, Canada and Mexico to recognise each other's architects

News: architectural licensing bodies in the United States, Canada and Mexico have forged an agreement to allow architects to work across North American borders.

Following a decade of negotiations, the Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) in the US and the Federacion de Colegios de Arquitectos de la Republica Mexicana (FCARM) have finalised an agreement that will allow registered architects to work across all three countries.

Currently, individuals have to register with the governing body of each country to be able to legally call themselves architects when working abroad.

The new agreement means architects in North America will only need to be licensed in their home country to work across the continent – providing they satisfy a set of criteria.

The Tri-National Mutual Recognition Agreement for the International Practice of Architecture requires participants to have an architecture degree from a recognised accrediting body and 10 years of experience.

They will also need to offer proof of "good standing" in their home jurisdiction and a competent understanding of building laws in different countries, as well as completing an interview in the native language of the country in question.

The issue of cross-country licensing has proven problematic for architects as design and construction become increasingly global industries.

Most countries require anyone calling themselves an architect to have completed a certain amount of formal education and practical training and the title is protected by law. But each country has different rules and registration bodies, meaning an architect who has spent decades in practice may not be allowed to work under that title abroad.

In 2012, Britain's Architects Registration Board was criticised for writing to journalists demanding that they cease describing Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind as architects because they were not registered in the UK.

The organisation was described as "crackers" and "pathetic" when it then wrote to Dezeen, demanding an article on John Pawson be amended for the same reason.

The North American agreement echoes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, which created the world's largest free trade area and which prompted the reassessment of architectural regulations in the three nations.

"Throughout the process, the underlying goal has been to remove barriers and provide qualified architects the opportunity to offer professional services across borders while ensuring the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare," said NCARB in a statement.

Architects interested in pursuing the opportunity can contact the regulatory authority in their home country for an application form.

Image of Vancouver is courtesy of Shutterstock.