NCARB Announces Testing Centers Abroad, But Why?

This week, NCARB announced that candidates can now sit for exams in London or Abu Dhabi. You can read their full announcement here.

 london abu dhabi

They also state in the article that they are actively pursuing locations in China. You may be wondering, why would NCARB be working so hard to let people take the exam overseas? Further, you might also be thinking, “OK, but why London, Abu Dhabi and China?”

Well, the answer is simple. Over the last decade, many large firms have opened offices overseas, and in particular, in London, Abu Dhabi and China. Often they send their U.S. based staff over to those offices to work for extended periods, stalling their exam plans in the process.

After all, how can a candidate pass Site Planning and Design, when they are 5000 miles away from the nearest Prometric testing center?

Firms like HOK have offices in London, Dubai, and Shanghai. So does Gensler, AECOM and many others. In fact, of the 100 largest architecture firms in the world, virtually all of them have some presence in one (or all) of those places.

Imagine how many letters NCARB has received from candidates working overseas, but fighting against their 5 year rolling clock?

This is great news for candidates (and their firms), as you won’t have to delay your dreams of licensure by working overseas.

Are you one of the candidates who will be taking the Architect Registration Exam overseas? Let us know in the comments below.

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13 comments… add one
  • Mohamad October 19, 2013, 3:30 am

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your post. If I took the ARE & become certified can I work everywhere or in specific countries?


  • Eric October 19, 2013, 8:34 am

    No, passing the ARE will allow you to get reciprocity in all 50 US states and Canada. Each state has different requirements, and you can learn them here:

    Some countries recognize a US architects license and will allow you to get reciprocity in their country without having to take an exam. You’ll have to check with each individual country. Every country is different. For example, if you are licensed in a state in the US, you can get a license in the UK easily. The UK and RIBA have been working to make it even easier. See here:

    Good luck!

  • David Ray Solomon October 21, 2013, 12:17 pm

    This is good to see. While working in Italy in the early ’80s I had to return to the US to complete my licensing exam. London would have been very convenient.
    Eric, the link regarding the UK/USA reciprocity speaks of a negotiation for a European reciprocity agreement, but the article is dated 2009. Has thee been any progress in regard since?

  • Eric October 21, 2013, 1:20 pm

    There is no reciprocal registration between foreign countries and United States except for Canada. You cannot practice architecture in a U.S. jurisdiction without acquiring a license to practice in that jurisdiction.

    So it looks like they haven’t made much progress with a RIBA to NCARB agreement (yet).

  • Eric October 21, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Oh, and for more information on RIBA-NCARB reciprocity contact Stephen Stenson at:

  • Lavina November 4, 2013, 2:53 am

    Right after qualifying to take my exams, I moved to the British Virgin Islands from California. I ended up taking my exams in St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas (on a business trip), and Tampa (on vacation), often taking two or more within a few days. You can imagine that this was difficult and expensive. While these new locations wouldn’t have helped my situation, I’m pleased to see this development, and hope that locations continue to expand.

  • Eric November 5, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Lavina. It’s still not ideal, but at least it’s good to know NCARB is working on it. I think this problem (architects working around the world) will only continue. The rolling clock doesn’t help reduce the stress either!

  • Mohamed November 16, 2013, 1:56 am

    Dear Eric,

    I studied Architecture in Egypt, and have almost 10 years of experience in Gulf Countries.

    I would like to know if I am eligible to take the ARE exam or not?

    and how would I be a registered Architect from (AIA or RIBA) (with my overseas qualification and experience) as most of the well know companies requested that.


  • Eric November 16, 2013, 8:27 pm

    In order to satisfy the education requirement for NCARB, you must hold a professional degree in architecture from an NAAB accredited program, or a CACB-certified professional degree in architecture from a Canadian university.

    Requirements for a license:

    Each US state (jurisdiction) has its own requirements. You can find them at the link above. And they have a great webcast for foreign interns and architects seeking U.S. licensure:

  • Jonathan McKim June 5, 2015, 11:19 am

    Hello Eric,
    My company is sending me to Iraq for one to three years. I was planning to take the CSE on 6/30/15, but there is simply too much to do before leaving. Once in Iraq, I’ll have time to catch up on studying, and will have three weeks in the UAE at my company’s Abu Dhabi office (likely this coming fall). Do you know if CAB has a testing center in the UAE? Or should I make arrangements to return to the US for the Exam?


    • David June 17, 2015, 12:22 pm

      Hi Jon, I don’t believe CAB has any oversees testing centers. Here’s a link to the list

      Thanks, David

      • Jonathan McKim November 3, 2016, 8:35 am

        Hello David,

        Yesterday, despite not sleep the night before, a splitting headache, getting stuck in morning rush hour traffic which made me 7 minutes late to the PSI center…despite all of this, I still managed to pass the CSE. I credit your study guide with making this happen. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

        Jon McKim

        • David December 2, 2016, 3:06 pm

          hi jon, just seeing this message, it was buried somewhere. congratulations! that is awesome news! Enjoy the new license 🙂

          thanks, david

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