Architecture & Design

Process to be an architect in Canada

For those who follow the blog or know me a little more about us know that I have a degree in architecture and urbanism and work in my area here in Canada for more than 8 years.

I got my first job here in the icy lands just over a month after I arrived.

I intend to write a little about how is the job market in this area here in Ottawa in another post, but Could not fail to mention here the process of validating the diploma of architect in Canada, since it is one of the questions I get most from both Facebook and the blog to tho.

I point out that I did not do the process and probably will not do, since I find it very difficult to meet many of the criteria required to obtain the “stamp” of architect and I can legally entitle myself as such here. I also don’t think it’s an advantage for me at the moment, especially with small children and not having that much time to devote myself to that side of the career. 

As I have commented in another post, a foreign architect has no right to work or call himself such here in Canada. Even architects graduated in Canadian institutions have to go through a process to obtain the title of architect and be able to sign works and projects.

For an individual to be able to become a complete architect here, there are two steps:


Also called recognition of the diploma, where basically the regulatory body accepts that, yes, you studied architecture and that what you saw in your course count towards professionalization here and your diploma is valid.


With your diploma accepted, you still need to go through several steps to prove that you are able to practice the profession in Canada. Both in theory and in practice.

The CACB (Canadian Architectural Certification Board) which is the regulatory body of the profession in Canada, has a process called BEFA (Broad Experienced Foreign Architects) for validation of the diploma it demands, in summary:

  • That the candidate has formally graduated as an architect in the country of origin;
  • that the applicant has practised the profession in his/her country of origin;
  • That the candidate has at least 7 years of exercise after graduation in the last 10 years.
  • Have the candidate obtain at least 6 months of relevant Canadian experience prior to the evaluation interview that is part of the process. And this experience must have been obtained no more than 3 years before this interview.
  • The Canadian experience in question must be supervised and directed by a registered/licensed architect in Canada, within the province that the applicant will apply for registration.
  • The Canadian experience required is one that exposes the candidate to the practice and regulations of architecture in Canada. 

In addition, you must submit academic paperwork (diploma, performance) in registered copies and sworn translations. It is also required the curriculum (which will show an overview of his career as an architect) and a portfolio.

To complement, a self-assessment of the candidado is required, which must be completed online and covers 12 areas of architectural practice in Canada. 

After all these steps and verified the eligibility of the candidate, an interview will be scheduled, where there will be a board of architects who will debate and verify part of the self-assessment issues and part of the professional experience of the candidate in the country of origin and in Canada.

The candidate must bring 3 projects in which he participated (not accepted in electronic format) for the interview to be discussed with the bank. Proficiency in English or French will be evaluated during the interview.  

After the interview and proven the success of the candidate, he will receive a certificate of BEFA (Broad Experienced Foreign Architect) and may, together with cacb, enter the license process, with the provincial body.  


  • Eligibility assessment – CAN$ 847.50 (fees included)
  • Self-assessment – CAN$ 2,825 (fees included)
  • Interview – CAN$ 1,695 (fees included)

  Fees are non-refundable.

These steps are for the diploma to be validated in Canada legally. After having successfully performed all the steps, you must apply for the license with the province you intend to act in.

Here is a summary of the steps for the province of Ontario:

  • Have an architectural degree;
  • Have the diploma/education recognized by CACB (process described above);
  • Have completed the admission course offered by the OAA (CAD$350);
  • Have successfully completed one of the following exams: 
  1. ExAC (Examination for Architects in Canada) by the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA);
  2. or, ARE (Architect Registration Examination) by NCARB (National Council of Architecture Registration Boards);
  3. or, a combination of oaa or ncarb tests, which is considered valid (vague medium…)
  • Have a total of 3720 hours of architectural experience (recorded under the terms of the Intern Architect Program (IAP) (it seems that part of the experience in your home country may be worth it). This experience should include at least 940 hours under the supervision of a professional licensed in Ontario (a mentor, also a prerequisite) during the last 3 years. At least 2780 hours must be under the supervision of a professional qualified/licensed to practice architecture in Canada.
  • To be considered a good guy with no criminal record.
  • Payment of fees (I could not find the value of this second part);

Okay, phew! Long process! I haven’t gotten excited yet.

I completely understand that it’s not right to let an architect trained in another country just come here and go out building things. The construction system and everything else involved is so different. I even think that Brazil should have a kind of examination to enter the order of architects, in order to better select the trained professionals (let’s say in passing, it is not only because the person graduated who is able to perform the function, right?!).

But I also find this process a bit extensive here in Canada, especially the part of getting those hours of experience under a licensed professional. You’re going to try a spot for intern, then they ask for Canadian experience and to have Canadian experience you need to have a job in the area and the snowball just grows.

Anyway, it’s not impossible, but it’s laborious, costly and you have to be lucky to get into an architecture office right away and where bosses don’t bother “forming” more competition (I’ve heard you have it here in Ottawa, unfortunately).

It is worth remembering that urbanism is a separate profession from that of architect here and has a separate regulatory body, the CIP (Canadian Institute of Planners), as well as landscapers, with its OALA body in Ontario.

Kisses and even!