In February, I had the honor of joining a delegation of U.S. engineering board officials visiting the United Kingdom to see first-hand the opportunities that a memorandum of understanding would open for cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom.

During roundtable sessions with members of the U.K. Engineering Council, our delegation had the opportunity to learn more about the U.K.’s engineering sector and licensure process. We also were treated to site visits that showcased the innovative capabilities of the U.K. engineering profession.

We learned that the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is deep and critical across a multitude of sectors. The British-American partnership is one that promotes our shared values, common prosperity, and mutual security. We are each other’s largest investors and foreign job creators. NCEES and the EC-UK would like to take that further, particularly for our shared expertise in professional services.

National and state governments are also looking for ways to strengthen a partnership between the U.S. and the U.K.  In June 2023, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century U.S.-U.K. Economic Partnership, to ensure that an alliance is adapted, reinforced, and reimagined for the challenges of this moment.

As part of the Atlantic Declaration, NCEES and the Council began discussions on a mutual recognition agreement, or MRA, for engineering. This follows the success of an MRA on architecture that was concluded last year.

On a state level in November 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.K. Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch signed a memorandum of understanding to increase trade and bilateral investment, strengthen business ties and grow academic partnerships between Florida and the United Kingdom.

Essentially, the MRA would offer a streamlined process by which engineers with professional registration/licensure in their home jurisdiction could gain recognition in the host jurisdiction. Specifically, the agreement is intended to provide:

  • A streamlined route to the U.K. Chartered Engineer title (CEng) for U.S. Professional Engineers with a state license, and
  • A streamlined route to a U.S. member board PE license for Chartered Engineers.

The MRA would cover engineers who have been admitted to any of the following professional registrations:

  • A Chartered Engineer, who also holds the title International Professional Engineer (IntPE), awarded by the Engineering Council, and
  • A Professional Engineer licensed in a participating U.S. member board, who also holds the title NCEES International Registered Professional Engineer (IRPE).

The next step is to have as many member boards as possible agree to sign onto the MRA. At upcoming NCEES Zone Meetings, there will be a good deal of discussion about the benefits of the MRA, as well as quite a few question-and-answer sessions. NCEES wants member boards to have a clear understanding of how the agreement will work.

Our board members are attending the Southern Zone Meeting in early April in Asheville, N.C. They will have an opportunity to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

Keep in mind that even if a member board agrees to allow licensure via the MRA, it may require changes to state statutes. (For the MRA process to be adopted in Florida, that would be the case.) The first step is a willingness to accept the MRA.