Architecture Firm Licensing

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Design with confidence: Add compliance to your architectural blueprint

Overview of Licensing Requirements

A business entity offering architectural services to the public typically must register with the state board of architects and receive a Certificate of Authorization. The Certificate of Authorization, or firm license, is necessary to practice architecture in about 60% of states. Firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees.

Licensure for architectural firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the secretary of state. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or professional corporations (PC), and limited liability companies (LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.

After registration with the secretary of state, architecture firms must apply for a Certificate of Authorization through the relevant licensing board. It is worth noting that the Certificate of Authorization is a separate document from the Certificate of Authority used during foreign qualification. This can be a confusing for firms needing to file both documents, especially in Oklahoma and Missouri, where the licensing board form is also called a Certificate of Authority application. Applications and forms are fairly standard, but there are some differences from state to state. A dedicated compliance expert can help you keep track of varying jurisdiction requirements and updated laws.

Applications require proof of incorporation or foreign qualification as well as a fee. Other required items can include notarized bylaws and ownership requirements. For example, in Alabama there are ownership requirements in order to obtain an architectural Certificate of Authorization. A minimum of two-thirds of the controlling officers, partners, directors, or members of the entity must be architects and/or professional engineers registered under the laws of any U.S. jurisdiction, and at least one must be an architect registered in Alabama.

Some states combine the applications for architecture, engineering, and land surveying firm licensure into a single design firm application. Firms that provide more than one of these professional services may only need to fill out a single application but with a slightly higher application fee. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for initial architecture licensure range from $0 to $600. Rhode Island and Tennessee do not require a fee, while New Jersey filing fees total $600. The average license cost is $195 while the most common filing fee is $100.

Renewal Requirements

Firm license renewal varies by state. Over half of the states that require firm licensure call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. Tennessee is one exception to this rule, as they do not require a renewal filing.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $25 in Alabama and Minnesota to $500 in Alaska and New Jersey. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $210 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $100.

Firm Licensing: Quick Facts


  • 60% of states require firms to register before providing architectural services.
  • The average initial filing fee is $195, the average renewal fee is $210.
  • New Jersey and Alaska have the highest fees, at $600 for initial applications and $500 for renewals.
  • Applications in Rhode Island and Tennessee applications are free.
  • The most common filing fee for both initial and renewal filings is $100.
  • For nationwide architectural firms, initial registration will cost roughly $3,880, while renewal fees amount to just over $3200.
  • Penalty fees vary widely by state. Some states charge no fee for late filings, while Arkansas late fees can reach $250 and Delaware late fees are twice the amount of the renewal fee.
  • A slight majority of states require biennial renewal filings, while the remainder require filings to be made annually.

Table of Firm Licenses

Looking for architecture certification requirements in a particular jurisdiction? The following table summarizes architecture firm licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

Alabama

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Agency

Alabama Board for Registration of Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

File online. A renewal link will appear on the board's website during the renewal period.

Due:

Annually by April 30.

Alaska

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Agency

Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors

Initial Application

Fee:

$500 ($200 application fee plus $300 registration fee) 

Form:

Certificate of Authorization for Corporate LLC, or LLP Practice

License Renewal

Fee:

$300 for licensees that registered in the first half of the biennial license period and $150 for licensees that registered during the second half of the biennial license period.

Form:

Biennial Certificate of Authorization Renewal for Corporate LLC or LLP Practice

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Arizona

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Agency

Arizona State Board of Technical Registration

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Annual Firm Registration (Renewal)

Due:

Annually

Arkansas

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Agency

Arkansas State Board of Architects, Landscape Architects & Interior Designers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$250

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Annual Renewal Application

Due:

Annually by January 31.

California

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Agency

California Architects Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

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

Colorado

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Not required

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Colorado. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with CO Stat. § 12-25-304.

Connecticut

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Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Occupational and Professional Licensing Division

License Renewal

Fee:

$375

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by April 30.


Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Architectural Licensing Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$220

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by July 31

Delaware

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Agency

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation: Board of Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

You are notified of the amount of the renewal fee at the time of renewal.

Due:

By January 31 of even-numbered years.

District of Columbia

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Not required

The District of Columbia will require architecture firms to obtain a license starting in 2019.

Florida

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Agency

Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$125

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

February 28 of every odd numbered year.

Georgia

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Not required

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Georgia. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with O.C.G.A. § 43-4-10.

Hawaii

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Not required

Architecture firms are not licensed at the state level in Hawaii. Business entities are permitted to practice architecture provided that they comply with HAR § 16-115-4.

Idaho

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Illinois

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Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Expires on April 30 of every odd year.

Indiana

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Not required

Indiana does not issue firm licenses at the state level and no longer requires professional corporations to obtain a certificate of registration before incorporating.

Iowa

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Not required

As of July 1, 2014, the Iowa Architectural Examining Board no longer registers firms. The board only registers individual architects.

Kansas

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Agency

Kansas State Board of Technical Professions

License Renewal

Fee:

$95

Form:

Business Entity Renewal Form

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Due:

Business entities with names beginning with A-L renew by December 31 in even numbered years; M-Z renew by December 31 in odd numbered years.

Kentucky

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Louisiana

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Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural Firm Initial Registration

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural Firm Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.


Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Limited Liability Company Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Limited Liability Corporation Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.


Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural-Engineering Corporation Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Architectural-Engineering Corporation Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.


Agency

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Professional Architectural Corporation Registration Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for in-state firms and $150 for out-of-state firms.

Form:

Professional Architectural Corporation Registration Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by June 30.

Maine

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Maryland

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Agency

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation - Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$35 application fee + $100 permit fee.

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Massachusetts

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Michigan

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Minnesota

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Agency

Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Form:

Professional Firm Registration Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

Mississippi

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Missouri

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Agency

Missouri Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Licenses originally issued in even-numbered years expire on December 31 of each even-numbered year and licenses originally issued in odd-numbered years expire on December 31 of each odd-numbered year.

Montana

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Nebraska

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Agency

Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $100 6-10: $200 11-49:$300 50+: $400

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authorization

License Renewal

Fee:

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $50 6-10: $150 11-49:$250 50+: $350

Form:

Renewal forms are mailed a month prior to expiration.

Due:

Biennially from date of issuance.

Nevada

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Agency

Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Firm registrations do not need to be renewed, however, changes to firm information should be reported to the board.

New Hampshire

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Agency

New Hampshire Joint Board of Licensure and Certification: Board of Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

Annually by December 31.

New Jersey

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Agency

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 application fee + $500 license fee if applying during the first year of the biennial license period and $250 license fee if applying during the second year of the biennial license period.

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$500

Due:

Biennially

New Mexico

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

New York

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Not required

  • New York does currently license architectural firms, however, firms must follow procedures established by the Education Department when incorporating or foreign qualifying.

North Carolina

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Agency

North Carolina Board of Architecture

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Firm Renewal Form

Due:

Annually by December 31.

North Dakota

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Ohio

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Agency

Ohio Architects Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$125

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

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Agency

Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, and Registered Interior Designers

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$325

Form:

Certificate of Authority Renewal Form

Due:

Biennially by June 30 of odd numbered years.

Oregon

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Agency

Oregon State Board of Architect Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Due:

Annually by January 31.

Pennsylvania

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Agency

Pennsylvania Architects Licensure Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Online Renewal

Due:

By June 30 of odd numbered years.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

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Agency

Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals

Initial Application

Fee:

$0

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$0 for firms with only one licensed architect and $120 for firms with more than one licensed architect.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

By December 31. of even-numbered years.

South Carolina

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Agency

South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners

License Renewal

Fee:

$185

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal Form

Due:

By August 31 of odd numbered years.

South Dakota

Our Resources:

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Agency

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: Board of Technical Professions

Initial Application

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the date of issuance.

Tennessee

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Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

No renewal form is required, however, firms must notify the board within 60 days if a change occurs to the information listed on the disclosure.

Texas

Our Resources:

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Agency

Texas Board of Architectural Examiners: Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$45

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$45

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by date of initial issuance.

Utah

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Vermont

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Virginia

Our Resources:

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Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.


Agency

Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

By December 31 of odd-numbered years.

Washington

Our Resources:

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Agency

Washington State Department of Licensing: State Board of Architects

Initial Application

Fee:

$19 business license fee + $284.50 certificate of authorization fee.

Form:

Business License Application and Registered Professional Design Firm Addendum

License Renewal

Fee:

$145.50 renewal fee + $11 processing fee.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by date of initial issuance.

West Virginia

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

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Agency

Wisconsin Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Professional Land Surveyors

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$82

Form:

Certificate of Authorization Renewal

Due:

By January 31 of even-numbered years.

Wyoming

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Not required

Firm licenses are not issued at the state level, however, a licensed individual must oversee all architectural work. Firms should consult board rules and state statutes before doing business.

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.

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