What is a BCIN Designer?

A BCIN designer is a licensed professional in the architectural field who is qualified to produce and approve building plans for construction in Ontario, Canada.

What does BCIN mean?

BCIN stands for Building Code Identification Number.

But what does that mean? Well, a BCIN number is a unique identification code required by certain professionals in the construction industry in Ontario, Canada. Each professional is responsible for signing off on their work with their designated code.

A BCIN license requires a set of qualifications from building officials, inspectors, registered code agents, septic installers, and designers who provide construction planning or design services. It’s obtained when they successfully complete specific testing on the Ontario Building Code. 


house blue print sketch on a table

Do you have to get a BCIN?

Architectural technologists, technicians, and designers are required to obtain their personal BCIN number to be licensed to produce and submit plans within the province of Ontario.

Architects are exempt from having to obtain BCIN licensing because they become qualified on building code knowledge through their training. Architects also have mandated professional liability insurance, which wasn’t necessarily required of other designers until Bill 124 came into effect.

Architectural technologists working under an architect are not legally required to get a BCIN because the architect can sign off on their plans. However, they won’t be able to independently submit their drawings for building permit approval. 

The BCIN is a license that certifies a designer or architectural technologist in building code requirements, allowing them to sign off on their own plans.  The same licensing system applies to municipal building inspectors and registered code agents.

BCIN is enforced in Ontario by Bill 124 as a requirement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing. Its purpose is to protect the public and uphold safe building standards within the construction industry.

The Bill 124 legislation requires: 

  • Mandatory insurance requirements for all designers
  • Testing for all designers, inspectors, and registered code agencies
  • Set timeframes for building permit processing for inspectors
  • Rules regarding permit applications
  • Enforcement of building code criteria by officials and inspectors

Does BCIN apply to other provinces? 

No. A BCIN License is only applicable to Ontario. Architectural designs in other provinces just need to meet the provincial building code to secure building permit approval.

Does BCIN expire? 

Yes. A BCIN license must be renewed annually. Designers must show proof of insurance and can be selected for mandatory retesting under the building code act.

What can BCIN designers do?

Most designers start with the General Legal exam and the House or Small Buildings exam. The House exam licences them to create residential home designs or small auxiliary structures like garages and decks, while the Small Buildings exam qualifies them for home designs and small commercial projects. 



There are also qualifications for large and complex buildings, septic design, and plumbing design that allow designers to plan septic systems, tenant fit-ups, or commercial renovations with certain restrictions.

For example, House of Three is fully licensed within the BCIN program to create blueprints for certain types of commercial spaces under 6458 sq. ft. / 600 sq. m. We’ve designed cafes, stores, and all kinds of commercial office spaces. We also frequently work with contractors, real estate developers, and landlords to create a set of custom designs for their new build or renovation.

Some designs require sign off from an architect or engineer for elements such as mechanical or engineering additions, e.g. septic planning, trusses, or heat systems.

But for the most part, BCIN designers are licensed to independently produce a wide range of project plans and can get creative with responsible design to resolve the need for custom engineering solutions.



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How to become a BCIN designer?

If you’ve trained as an architectural technician or technologist or even an interior designer and are interested in working on our team, you would need a BCIN license.  To get your license, there are a few steps:

1. Training 

George Brown College offers training courses to prepare you for BCIN exams. These courses are not mandatory, but we recommend them, even if just as a self-study guide.

2. Register Online

Before taking any exams, you must register online for a BCIN – either as an individual or as an organization. You can register through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing.

3. Take the Exams

 Register for your exams with the Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning. You will need to sign up for an exam at least three weeks (21 days) in advance of the exam date.

Find more information on how to become a BCIN-licensed designer in Ontario. 

Looking to start your career as a BCIN designer or architectural technologist in Ontario?

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