Sale Ends Soon: Advance Your Engineering Career and Save $500 on FE and PE Exam Prep with PPI. Find Your Prep Course and Get Started Today. Shop Now »

Engineering Licensure Outside of the United States

October 6, 2020
Man sitting at desk in office with a laptop taking notes image

Engineering licensure outside of the United States varies by location. Here is an overview of the PE licensure and reciprocity guidelines for Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, and more.

PE Exam Licensure in Canada

In Canada, the title "P.Eng." designates the status of a professional engineer. This is analogous to the title "PE" in the United States. Approximately 160,000 professional engineers are registered in Canada.

There are ten provinces and two territories in Canada, each with its own licensing body, commonly called "the engineering association." Engineering in Canada is self-regulated, which means the Canadian government has delegated the responsibility for administering engineering legislation to the profession.

All Canadian undergraduate engineering (B.Eng., B.E.Sc., and B.A.Sc.) programs are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), a standing committee of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE). The CEAB uses volunteer professional engineers from across Canada, with members from both industry and academia. CEAB performs functions in Canada that are parallel to those performed by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.

Each association has an Academic Review Committee (ARC) or Board of Examiners that reviews the academic qualifications of licensure applicants. Applicants from CEAB-accredited programs automatically meet the academic licensure requirements. All other applicants are reviewed by the Board of Examiners (or ARC) and are required to take one or more technical examinations covering all traditional subjects in engineering curricula. Therefore, it is possible for engineers who were educated outside Canada, scientists, and technologists to become Professional Engineers in Canada. Almost 8% of all Canadian professional engineers have obtained their licenses by taking technical examinations.

In part because of CEAB's close monitoring, candidates for the P.Eng. title who are graduates of Canadian B.Eng. programs are not tested in engineering principles after graduation. However, to receive the P.Eng. title, the provincial engineering associations have additional requirements beyond the B.Eng. degree. These typically involve additional work experience past graduation, letters of reference, and an examination (known as the Professional Practice Examination, PPE) covering ethics, intellectual property protection, and provincial law. This "law and ethics exam" is based on a national syllabus established by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, but it is administered by each province. For example, applicants in Quebec must be familiar with aspects of Napoleonic law, while applicants in English-speaking provinces must be familiar with elements of English common case law. Applicants must be fluent in the language of business used in their province or territory.

Recently, several of the associations have introduced structured engineer-in-training or mentoring programs. These programs require new graduates to keep log books and, in some associations, to be interviewed by the licensing body during their four-year internship.

Six of the twelve associations have implemented mandatory continuing competence or practice review requirements. The remaining associations either have established voluntary systems or are in the process of developing other competence evaluation systems.

In 1999, the Canadian Professional Engineers achieved internal mobility with the signing of an Inter-Association Mobility Agreement. Essentially, this agreement allows members in good standing expedited admission into the other associations.

Reciprocity with the United States

In many states, the Canadian licensing process does not satisfy the state requirements for examination. Because of this, Canadian engineers will find themselves pursuing the same examination process as US citizens: taking the FE and PE exams in the states where they desire to perform consulting services. An example of an exception to this rule is the state of Nevada, where Canadian P.Eng licensees can receive PE licensure without having to pass the FE and PE exams, as long as they are listed in the Engineers Canada Mobility Register. In addition, approximately half of the US states have provisions for issuing "temporary engineering licenses" to non-US engineers. The best way to find out the requirements of the state you wish to be licensed in is to contact the state board.

A six-nation mutual recognition agreement (the "Washington Accord") signed in 1989 recognized the essential equivalence of the accreditation processes for engineering education in these countries. This makes it easier for Canadian engineers to prove that their degrees are "ABET equivalent."

The effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has not been significant.

Description of the Law and Ethics Exam

The law and ethics exam typically contains short questions on legal definitions and key precedent-setting cases, professionalism and professional practice, regulation of the profession, and the Engineers Act. The exams are usually two to three hours in length. Within a province or territory, all engineers take the same law and ethics exam, regardless of discipline.

Passing rates are usually high—70% and above. Language is often a cause of failure.

Many provinces use a machine-graded, multiple-choice exam—the so-called "National Professional Practice Examination" developed by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA). This examination is closed book and two hours in duration. There are 100 multiple-choice questions. All questions are common to the professions of engineering, geology, geophysics, and geoscience. The examination is graded as pass/fail. A detailed report indicating areas of weakness is available to candidates who fail. There is no penalty for wrong answers (i.e., for guessing). The minimum passing score is 65%, although psychometric adjustments may be made by APEGGA to ensure that, over time and among groups of candidates, pass/fail decisions are made consistently. The grade is final, and there are no appeals.

In Ontario, exams also include written essay questions concerning fictitious legal cases. The fictitious legal cases are based on actual case law. Additional questions cover ethical dilemmas (i.e., "what would you do" questions). These exams are three hours in length and require essay responses.

Review Materials for the Canadian Law and Ethics Exam

Law for Professional Engineers, D.L. Marston, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. (1996)

Canadian Professional Engineering Practice and Ethics, Second Edition, G.C. Andrews and J.D. Kemper. Saunders College Canada. (1999) ISBN 0-7747-3501-5

Reference guides covering intellectual property protection ("A Guide to Patents," "A Guide to Trademarks," "A Guide to Industrial Designs," and "A Guide to Copyrights") can be obtained from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

The provincial engineering professions act, manual of professional practice, and code of ethics published by the association.

Relevant safety regulations, such as an Occupational Health and Safety Act.

More Information on Canadian PE Licensure

Provincial and territorial associations are accessible from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers' (CCPE) website,

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
Head Office, 1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton AB T5J 4A2
Phone: 780.426.3990, 800.661.7020
Fax: 780.426.1877

Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE)
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K3
Phone: 613.232.2474
Fax: 613.230.5759

Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB)
Contact through Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE)
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K3
Phone: 613.232.2474
Fax: 613.230.5759

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
Industry Canada, Place du Portage I
50 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor
Hull, Quebec, K1A 0C9

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)
25 Sheppard Ave., West, Suite 1000
Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6S9
Phone: 416.224.1100, 800.339-3716 (within Ontario)
Fax: 416.224.8168

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Deborah Wolfe, P.Eng., Director, Educational Affairs, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers; John Stephenson, P.Eng., PE, Toronto, ON; and Dr. Hugh Jack, P.Eng., Assistant Professor, Padnos School of Engineering, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI.

PE Exam Licensure in Mexico

Mexico awards the federal professional engineering license after an exit exam or thesis in addition to the successful completion of a four-year engineering program accredited by the Federal Secretary of Education. The exit exam is written and evaluated by the professors at the accredited institution. The Mexican engineer is not required to be registered to practice before becoming employed as an engineer. However, there is a social and professional distinction between a graduado (one who has passed all subjects) and a titulado en ingenieria (one who holds the title of "Ingeniero"). Successful engineers are allowed to use the prefix "Ing" prior to their names.

At least one educational institution, Centro de Ensenanza Technica y Superior (CETYS), accepts the NCEES FE exam in lieu of the general-knowledge exit exam.

The Mexican accreditation system requires that students perform community service. An educational institute may also define additional requirements for graduation. These additional requirements might include service within the educational institution, foreign language proficiency, and professional practice in local industry.

As a result of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico has created an engineering curriculum accreditation board, Consejo de Acreditacion de la Ensenanza de la Ingenieria (CACEI), which performs functions similar to ABET in the United States and CEAB in Canada.

Texas is the only state the offers the Mexican Ingeniero a reciprocal PE license without examination. There is no reciprocity between Mexico and other states.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Daniel R. Robles Alvarez, PE, Boeing Company, Seattle, WA, formerly Facultad de Ingenieria, Centro de Ensenanza Technica y Superior, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

Engineering Licensure in the United Kingdom (UK)

In the United Kingdom, the title most analogous to "Professional Engineer" is "Chartered Engineer." This title is not granted through an examination process, but the procedure is rigorous, nonetheless. Upon graduation, an engineer must work for three to four years in a supervised and structured training period.

After this on-the-job training, the engineer submits two written papers for comment and grading by two senior members of the institution most appropriate to their discipline. The applicant is interviewed for several hours and then makes a 15-minute technical presentation based on one of his papers. Thereafter, the engineer answers technical and professional questions from the examiners.

In the afternoon, the engineer writes two 1500-word reports in three hours on two questions—one technical and one professional—in subjects set by the examiners which the engineer will not have seen before. Passing all of the elements is required before acceptance as a member of their institution.

Engineering Licensure in Europe

Information on the EUR ING professional designation can be found on the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) website. Criteria for the EUR ING designation is described here. Application is open only to individuals who are members of an engineering association represented in FEANI through a National Member (a list of which appears on this site).

PE Licensure in the Philippine Islands

Other than the United States, the Philippines are the only country to license Professional Engineers by examination. Various exams (the "Engineering Boards," "Board Exams," or just "Boards") are administered by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) in Manila. These exams may be taken by any graduate of a five-year engineering program. The only requirements are a diploma and transcript of records issued by the university.

The engineering disciplines have different examination and experience requirements for licensing. For example, civil engineering and geodetic graduates take one exam; mechanical engineers take two exams; and electrical engineers take three exams. Most exam problems are multiple choice and machine-graded.

The civil engineering exam is administered over two days. Mathematics and surveying are tested on the first day. On the second day, the morning session covers hydraulics, water supply, hydrology, and wastewater. The afternoon session covers design and construction in concrete, steel, timber, and masonry, as well as seismic design.

Electrical engineers who pass the first exam are designated as "associate electrical engineers." Associate EEs are limited in authority as to what they may sign off on. After a specific number of years, the Assistant Electrical Engineer exam may be taken. Similarly, after additional experience, the Professional Electrical Engineer exam may be taken.

The two mechanical engineering exams are similarly separated by a certain number of years of experience.

PE License Reciprocity with the United States

The Philippines' professional engineering license is not recognized in the United States. At one time, California permitted Filipino PEs to skip the FE exam. However, this is no longer the case.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Edgar S. Surla, Board Certified Civil Engineer (Philippines), Board Certified Jr. Geodetic Engineer (Philippines), EIT (US), Project Detailer, Dick Pacific Construction, Guam.

Australia | Canada | Ireland | New Zealand | United Kingdom | South Africa

A six-nation mutual recognition agreement signed in 1989 recognized the essential equivalence of the accreditation processes for engineering education in these countries. This makes it easier for foreign engineers to prove that their degrees are ABET-equivalent.

Ready to ace the PE exam?

Enroll Now

Industry Insights

Ultimate Guide to the PE Civil Exam
Everything you need to know about the PE Civil Exam - a required step to becoming a licensed professional engineer.
Man working on a laptop and taking notes next to a bookcase image
Preparing for the NCEES PE Exam
Check these items off your list to make sure that you're fully prepared for the PE exam.
Woman in blue blazer working on a laptop in an office image
Qualifying to Take the NCEES PE Exam
Make sure you've completed these steps for PE exam qualification. Learn more about the requirements for the PE exam.