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There are six international agreements governing mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence. In each of these agreements countries/economies who wish to participate may apply for membership, and if accepted become members or signatories to the agreement. In broad principle, each country/economy must meet its own costs, and the body making application must verify that it is the appropriate representative body for that country/economy.

Agreements covering tertiary qualifications in engineering
There are three agreements covering mutual recognition in respect of tertiary-level qualifications in engineering:

The Washington Accord signed in 1989 was the first - it recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in professional engineering, normally of four years duration.

The Sydney Accord commenced in 2001 and recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in engineering technology, normally of three years duration.

The Dublin Accord is an agreement for substantial equivalence in the accreditation of tertiary qualifications in technician engineering, normally of two years duration. It commenced in 2002.

Agreements covering competence standards for practising engineers
The other three agreements cover recognition of equivalence at the practising engineer level i.e. it is individual people, not qualifications that are seen to meet the benchmark standard. The concept of these agreements is that a person recognised in one country as reaching the agreed international standard of competence should only be minimally assessed (primarily for local knowledge) prior to obtaining registration in another country that is party to the agreement.

The oldest such agreement is the APEC Engineer agreement which commenced in 1999. This has Government support in the participating APEC economies. The representative organization in each economy creates a "register" of those engineers wishing to be recognised as meeting the generic international standard. Other economies should give credit when such an engineer seeks to have his or her competence recognised. The Agreement is largely administered between engineering bodies, but there can be Government representation and substantive changes need to be signed off at governmental APEC Agreement level.

The International Professional Engineers agreement commenced in 2001. It operates the same competence standard as the APEC Engineer agreement but any country/economy may join. The parties to the agreement are largely engineering bodies. There are intentions to draw IPEA and APEC closer together.

The International Engineering Technologist agreement was signed by participating economies/countries in 2003. The parties to the Agreement have agreed to commence establishing a mutual recognition scheme for engineering technologists.