Regulation of the architectural profession and practice in Germany

General Information

Today, more than 131,000 architects in Germany are active as freelancers, employees, public servants or they are engaged in the building and construction business (i.e. they operate, for instance, a construction business under their own responsibility). The architect performs consulting, planning, designing services on behalf of the client and oversees and controls the execution of the plans on a fiduciary basis. With their enrolment in the official list of architects they commit themselves to comply with strict principles of the trade. The official list of architects is kept by the 16 Architects’ Associations in the federal states, which as statutory professional bodies have been charged by the state with the task of maintaining this list.

Architects may belong to one or several disciplines (specialisations), being:

  • Architecture (building construction)
  • Interior architecture
  • Landscape architecture
  • Urban planning.

The enrolment in the list of architects is affiliated with the protection of the job title: Only such persons may trade under the job titles “architect”, “interior architect”, “garden and landscape architect” or “urban planner”, who have been enrolled in the list of architects of a federal state. These job titles are protected by specific laws made for the trade and serve, through the control of the qualification, also the protection of consumers.

Federal Chamber of German Architects

The Federal Chamber of German Architects (Bundesarchitektenkammer e.V. – BAKBAK Bundesarchitektenkammer) is the national association of the 16 Chambers of Architects of the German Länder, bodies under public law. It represents the interests of Germany´s architects, landscape architects, interior architects and urban planners in politics and society (approx. 131,000 members in 2016). Although both architect and building order regulations are a matter of individual federal state legislation, many important political decisions pertaining to the profession are made in Berlin or Brussels. The profession of architects is one of the “liberal professions” whose titles are protected by law.

Chambers of Architects of the German Länder

Architects are obliged to register at the Länderkammer of the federal state (German Land) where they are settled. The regulations vary between the different Bundesländer.

The tasks of the 16 Chambers of Architects of the German Länder are in principle:

  1. To promote building culture, architecture, construction, urban development and landscape management,
  2. To safeguard the professional interests of all its members and the reputation of the profession, to advise the members on matters relating to professional practice and to supervise the performance of professional duties,
  3. To promote and to provide vocational training,
  4. To keep the lists and directories required by law and other legislations and to issue the necessary certificates,
  5. To contribute to the regulation of competition,
  6. To support authorities and courts in all matters relating to professional duties,
  7. To work on the settlement of disputes arising from professional practice,
  8. To contribute to the regulation of expert

For more details on the Chambers of the Länder, please see here:

For the purpose of promoting activities abroad, the BAK established the Network for Architecture Exchange – Netzwerk Architekturexport (NAXNAX Netzwerk Architekturexport) early in 2001. NAX gathers export experienced architects, acts as an agent for providing colleagues and awarding authorities with national and international contracts and improves the flow of export-relevant information.

Practice / professional training / further training

Professional titles in the fields of architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning

In Germany, the titles architect, interior architect, landscape architect and urban planner are protected by law. Registration is mandatory via the chamber of one of the German Länder (ferdal states), where the architect is settled. The title protection plays an important role in consumer protection as it is part of the quality control of the services. Architects and urban planners provide services in advising, planning and constructing as well as supervising tasks.

Professional training

The architects´ chambers of the German Länder register the following architectural professions: architect, interior architect, landscape architect and urban planner.

Requirements and registration

  • For architects, generally minimum of 4 years of academic training required for registration.
    For landscape architects, urban planners and interior designers: 3 or 4 years (depending on the particular state law).
  • Exceptionally, Bachelor of 3 years is accepted by 3 Länder for registration, provided that the applicant has 4 to 6 years of obligatory professional experience (Bavaria 6 years + additional examination; Hessen 4 years; Schleswig-Holstein 4 years).
  • Compulsory registration with the Chamber of Architects of one of the Länder. Registration is based on an assessment carried out by an independent jury of professionals headed by a magistrate or a lawyer. There is provision for an appeal process.

Further training / Continuous Professional Development (CPDCPD Continuous Professional Development)

The obligation for further training is anchored in the architects’ laws.

The architects’ chambers are in charge of the advanced training institutes and academies.

CPD register for Germany:

Liability / Insurance

Fee scale (HOAIHOAI Honorarordnung für Architekten und Ingenieure) / Scope of services

In Germany there is a national law on fee scales for architects and engineers (Hororarordnung für Architekten und Ingenieure/HOAI) setting out general provisions and definitions for architectural and engineering services, including binding minimum and maximum tariffs.

It contains extensive overview tables to define the fee scales for services in a variety of projects (building, urban planning, landscape planning, transport infrastructure, technical installations, earthworks, surveying etc.) in relation to the total costs of the project. These total fees are broken down into percentages for the various work stages (“Leistungsphasen”).

Construction law

Baugesetzbuch (Federal Building Code)

The national act covers subjects such as land use, property rights, administrative procedures etc.
The 1997 version is available in English on the website of the Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing: (PDF-Dokument)
Press releases from the Ministry in English can be found under:

Bauordnung (the “Building Codes” of the federal states)

Each of the 16 federal states in Germany has its own “Bauordnung” or building code. These building codes set out the requirements for building plots, construction work, building regulations etc., in other words they are focused more on the individual construction projects. There is a “Musterbauordnung” (model building code) which aims to provide a harmonisation framework for the regional codes, but it has not eliminated the regional differences.
The model building code (2002) in German can be found at:

Contract law

There is no special contract law for architects in Germany.

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