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California architect licenses expire at midnight on the last day of the licensee's birth month in odd-numbered years and must be renewed every two years.
Architects may renew their license by:
- Completing continuing education (CE) coursework on disability access requirements within the previous two years as mandated by Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 5600.05 (see section below regarding coursework audits);
- Completing a Renewal Application;
- Paying the $300 license renewal fee; and
- Mailing the Renewal Application and fee to the Board with a postmark on or before the license expiration date.
Renewing on time is critical. Renewal notices are sent to the licensee's address of record approximately 60 days prior to the expiration date. If a licensee does not receive the renewal notice within 60 days of their license expiration date, they may renew by mailing a completed Renewal Application, and a check for the appropriate renewal fee made payable to the California Architects Board. Architects may not submit a Renewal Application and payment more than 60 days before their current license period ends.
Please allow up to eight weeks for processing. The most frequent cause of delay in renewal processing is an incomplete Renewal Application. Be sure that the Renewal Application is complete and signed.
The Board conducts audits of completed coursework. Licensees who are selected for an audit will be required to submit coursework documentation confirming that they have fulfilled the requirement. Licensees must keep their coursework documentation for at least two years from the date of their license renewal (BPC section 5600.05).
Important - Licensees who submit false or misleading information or fail to respond to the Board’s request for documentation will be subject to an administrative citation, which may include an administrative fine or disciplinary action (BPC section 5600.05).
Effective Date of License Renewal
Licensees who have complied with the license renewal requirements (complete application, signature, correct fee, etc.) prior to its expiration may engage in legal practice of their profession until receipt of the renewed license if the delay was not the fault of the licensee (BPC section 121).
Note: This provision does not apply to delinquent or incomplete Renewal Applications.
Renewal Pocket Receipt
The Board issues a pocket receipt in addition to the renewal license upon renewal of an architect license. The renewal license (approximately 8.5” x 3.5”) is the official architect’s license; the pocket receipt (approximately 3.5” x 2.3”) is intended to be a receipt of the licensee’s payment for renewal. The size of the pocket receipt makes it convenient for carrying in the licensee’s wallet. The license must be posted in public view at the licensee’s principal office.
It is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment to practice architecture or call oneself an architect in this state unless you possess a current and valid California architect license. Practicing with an expired license is illegal and subject to disciplinary action (BPC sections 5536 and 5536.1).
Architects wishing to retire from the practice of architecture may apply for a non-renewable retired license. Once granted this license, a retired architect may not engage in any activity that would require an architect license (BPC section 5600.4).
A license that is not renewed within five years after it has expired becomes cancelled. A cancelled license cannot be renewed, restored, reissued, or reinstated. Individuals whose license has been cancelled must apply for a new license.
The Board notifies licensees by certified mail 90 days prior to cancellation that their license is approaching cancellation. This notification is mailed to the licensee's address of record. It is the licensee's responsibility to notify the Board of any address change.
The Board is required to temporarily waive the renewal fees, continuing education requirements, and other renewal requirements as determined by the Board, for any licensee who is called to active duty as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or the California National Guard, if certain conditions are met.
Licensees eligible for this temporary waiver must meet all of the following requirements:
- Possess a current and valid license when called to active duty; and
- Provide written documentation that substantiates the licensee's call to active duty.
Renewal requirements are only waived for the period of time the licensee is serving on active duty. Licensees must provide the Board with a notice of discharge date within 60 days of receipt.
All private practice is prohibited under the waiver. A licensee may not return to private practice until after they have complied with renewal requirements as required by the Board (Business and Professions Code section 114.3).
Family Support Non-payment
State agencies are prohibited from issuing or renewing the professional or vocational licenses of "support debtors" (those who are more than 30 days late in making periodic payments on a support arrearage, or in making periodic payments on a reimbursement for public assistance, as set forth in a judgment or order for support). This law affects almost anyone who is issued a California professional or vocational license. Those who fail to comply with such judgments will be notified and given an opportunity for review by the district attorney and for a judicial review. The California Department of Social Services (DSS) consolidates the lists prepared by the local district attorneys and distributes the lists to specified licensing agencies. If the Board receives information that an applicant is non-compliant with an order for support, only a temporary 150-day license is issued. Upon compliance with the order for support, a release is issued by the district attorney and a license is issued for the remainder of the license term. After 150 days, if a license is denied because of non-compliance, the funds paid by the applicant are non-refundable.