50-State Architecture Licensing Compliance Guide
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California Architecture Industry Licensing

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Licensing requirements for architecture industry firms and individuals in California.

This page provides an overview of architecture industry licensing in California for individuals and firms. You will find state requirements, application fees, filing instructions, and more. For assistance with licensing, please contact us to learn about our software and managed license services.

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Company Licenses

California Architecture Company Licenses

California Business Entity Report

Agency:California Architects Board
Law:

CA Business and Professions Code § 5535.2

Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Not Set
Ownership Requirements:

None for corporations. Each director, shareholder, and officer of a PC must be licensed.

Notes:

California does not issue firm licenses at the state level, however, licensed architects must submit a business entity report form and file an updated report within 30 days of a change in firm information.

Exam Required?Not Set
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?Not Set

Initial Registration

This section applies to architectural firms that are applying for a license in California for the first time. If you already have a license and are looking to renew it, please see the renewal section.

Form:

Business Entity Report Form

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$0

Original Ink:Required

Renewal Not Required

This section applies to architectural firms that are already licensed in California and need to renew their license.

Not required



Business entity reports only need to be re-filed when there is a change of information.

Amendment

Form:

Business Entity Report Form (Amendment)

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Licensees must immediately notify the Board of any name and/or address changes. In addition, licensees must submit an updated copy of the business entity form with the new information within 30 days of the change.

California Interior Design Firm License

Not required



Interior Design Firm licensure is not required on the State level in California.

California does not currently license or register interior design businesses.

California Landscape Architecture Firm License

Not required



Landscape Architecture Firm licensure is not required on the State level in California.

More information: California Landscape Architects Technical Committee

Individual Licenses

California Individual Architecture Licenses

California Architect License

Agency:California Architects Board
Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Not Set
Exam Required?Yes
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?Not Set

Exam Application

Form:

Application for Eligibility Evaluation

Agency Fee:

$100

Original Ink:Required

Initial Registration

This section applies to architects that are applying for a license in California for the first time.

Agency Fee:

$400 if applying during the first half of the renewal period or $200 if applying during the second half of the renewal period.

Original Ink:Required
Notes:

Applications for Licensure are sent to applicants after passing the California Supplemental Examination.

How to Apply:
  1. Establish an NCARB Record and select California as the testing jurisdiction (if you previously had an eight digit testing number please contact the Board before you establish an NCARB Record)
  2. Completed Application for Eligibility Evaluation
  3. Complete one of the four pathways
  4. Complete the ARE (pass each division within the five-year rolling clock period)
  5. Complete the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) or Internship in Architecture Program (IAP) (you may begin reporting AXP hours once you turn 18 or the equivalent of a graduate from high school; you may also concurrently fulfill this requirement at the same time as you are completing the ARE).
  6. Complete the CSE (California Supplemental Examination)
  7. Complete an Application for Licensure

Reciprocal Registration

This section applies to architects licensed in another state that are looking for reciprocal licensure in California.

Form:

California Architect Reciprocity Application

Agency Fee:

$35 application fee + $100 CSE exam fee + $200-$400 license fee

How to Apply:
  1. Submit the California Architect Reciprocity Application
  2. Complete the CSE (California Supplemental Examination)
  3. Complete an Application for Licensure

Registration Renewal

This section applies to architects that are already licensed in California and need to renew their license.

Form:

Architect License Renewal Application

Agency Fee:

$400

Due:Biennially on the last day of the birth month for a licensee.

California Interior Designer Certification

Agency:California Council For Interior Design Certification (CCIDC)
Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Not Set
Exam Required?Yes
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?Not Set

Initial Registration

Instructions:

There are 4 paths to certification:

  • Path 1 is for Applicants who meet minimum education or experience-only requirements but who are still in the process of completing the necessary education/work experience, may take the IDEX California® Examination.  After successfully passing the IDEX California® Examination, these candidates must submit the required proof of education/work experience, as listed under the Categories of Certification, in order to complete the certification process. 
  • Path 2 is for Qualified Candidates eligible to complete the certification process upon passing the IDEX California. 
  • Path 3 is a streamlined and cost saving path, for Candidates who have previously passed an approved national design exam, to become certified after successfully passing the IDEX California.
  • Path 4 is a Path, for Candidates who would like to become Certified with a commercial designation, after successfully passing the IDEX California. 
Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

Fees depend on which path to certification the applicant takes:

  • The fee for Paths 1 and 2 is $700
  • The fee for Paths 3 and 4 is $600

Registration Renewal

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

Renewal fees vary:

  • $275 for 2-Year Basic Certification Renewal Fee (Includes ID card only)
  • $300 for 2-Year Certification Renewal with Digital Stamp Fee (Includes ID Card & Digital Image Stamp)
  • $325 for 2-Year Certification Renewal with Stamp Fee (Includes ID Card & Rubber Stamp)
  • $350 for 2-Year Certification Renewal with Both Stamps Fee (Includes ID Card, Digital Image Stamp & Rubber Stamp)
Due:

Biennially by the date of issuance.

California Landscape Architect License

Agency:California Landscape Architects Technical Committee
Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Not Set
Exam Required?Not Set
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?Not Set

Exam Application

Form:

Eligibility Application

Agency Fee:

$35

Required Attachments:
  • Sealed/Official Transcripts from a qualifying educational program(s)
  • A Certification of Experience Form with original signature, from each licensed supervisor qualifying candidate’s experience (must be a landscape architect, architect, and/or civil engineer with a current and valid license)
  • If applicable, a General Credential Evaluation (for foreign educated applicants only)

Initial Registration

Form:

California Supplemental Examination Application

Agency Fee:

$275 exam fee + $35 evaluation fee

Reciprocal Registration

Form:

Reciprocity Application

Agency Fee:

$310

How to Apply:
  1. Submit a completed Reciprocity Application
  2. Section 2 of the application must be submitted to the candidate’s state(s) of licensure and/or examination for verification of scores and license history. The licensing agency is to forward the completed form to the Landscape Architects Technical Committee office.
  3. Take and pass the California Supplemental Examination (CSE)

Registration Renewal

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

$400

Due:

Biennially by the end of the expiration month.

Notes:

Renewal forms are sent in the mail about 90 days prior to the expiration date.

Learn about architecture licensing in other states:

ARE (Architect Registration Examination) - Assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required to be a practicing architect.

AXP (Architectural Experience Program) - NCARB program for architectural internship, a requirement for licensure that occurs after filling the educational requirements.

BEFA (Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect) - An alternative NCARB certification that allows foreign architects to independently practice architecture.

COA (Certificate of Authorization) - The most common name of the registration required for firms to practice architecture in a given state.

Design Firm - Architectural firm registration is sometimes grouped with engineering and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.

NCARB Certification - Licensed architects have the option to become Certificate holders to signify that they have met national standards established by U.S. licensing boards for protecting public health, safety, and welfare. Certification also facilitates reciprocal registration in all 54 jurisdictions, 11 Canadian jurisdictions, and can be used to support an application for licensure in other countries.

Reciprocity - This is when a licensed architect in one state can provide documentation (often a NCARB certificate) to more easily apply for licensure in another jurisdiction.

State Board - Often referred to as the State Architects Licensure Board or Board of Architects, an individual state’s board serves as the regulatory authority for architects. The board qualifies and licenses individuals seeking architectural licensure. The board is responsible for preserving the public health, safety, and welfare of individuals who occupy built environments.

National Architecture Accrediting Board
NAAB establishes criteria for and accredits professional architecture degree programs in the United States.

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)
AIAS is an independent, student-run group that promotes excellence in architecture education, training, and practice.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
AIA is a voluntary professional organization for architects providing advocacy, information, and community.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
ACSA represents architectural education programs across the globe.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
NCARB is the national organization representing the state registration boards.