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Frequently Asked Questions about Ohio's Seal Law

As of July 1, 2012, Ohio registered architects must include their printed name, license number and license expiration date below the seal when stamping drawings or other documents. Please click here for more information.

Q. Where can I buy a metal embossing or rubber stamp seal?

A. You may purchase your seal at any office supply company or service that makes and sells seals. Check the Internet for providers in your area.

Q. Where can I get a copy of Ohio's new seal rules?

A. A copy of the seal rules is available here.

Q. Are electronic seals and electronic signatures permitted in Ohio?
A. Yes.

Q. Are building departments required to accept all types of seals, including embossed, rubber stamp, or electronic?
A. Building departments are not required to accept electronically sealed plans, and may continue to require wet signatures and embossed seals. Check with the local building department to see if they are capable of accepting electronic documents and what types of seals are accepted.

Q. Must plans and documents be sealed on every page?
A. While the Board no longer requires sealing of every page, a building department can still require sealing of every page in addition to wet signatures.

Q. If a firm has more than one Principal registered in Ohio, do all of their names need to be on each drawing that is signed/sealed?
A. No, only the architect or landscape architect who is in responsible charge of the project should seal the documents.

Q. Can drawings be sealed under a "Company/Corporate Seal" rather then the individual seal of the Architect who actually prepared the drawings?
A. Company or Corporate seals are not permitted in Ohio. Architects/landscape architects must seal their own work.

Q. Can an architect or landscape architect make a complete, comprehensive review of drawings designed by an unlicensed person and seal them if he agrees to take responsibility?
A. NO. Ohio law always requires that the individual sealing the documents have a written contract with the client for services; possess direct professional knowledge and direct supervisory control of the designs from inception to completion before applying their seal.

Q. Can a licensee work or subcontract with, an unlicensed draftsperson to provide drafting services?
A. Yes, provided the licensee holds a written contract with the client for the project, has direct professional knowledge and direct supervisory control of the design from inception to completion. The unlicensed draftsperson cannot provide lead design services. The licensee’s license number, name, address, and phone number should be prominently displayed on the documents.

Q. Can a licensee seal drawings that have been authored by another licensee?
A. Yes, but ONLY if the sealing architect or landscape architect has a contract with the client for the project, has obtained written permission from the originating, licensed architect/landscape architect for the use of the drawings, and makes a complete, comprehensive review of the drawings. The drawings should reflect the title block of the individual sealing the documents.

Q. Can a licensee seal manufacturer's cut sheets, equipment or shop drawings or performance specs?
A. No, as a general rule, if the licensee did not prepare, design, create or author the work, it should not be sealed.

Q. Can an architect seal commercial exhaust hood drawings prepared by others?
A. No. An architect should seal only drawings that have been prepared by themselves or under their direct supervision. Reviewing and sealing the work of others does not comply with the seal law. In most cases, the sealing of exhaust hood drawings is considered the practice of engineering and may be a violation of the engineering laws.

Q. Can an architect be engaged only to design HVAC, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical drawings?
A. No, if an architect is hired only to design HVAC, electrical, plumbing or mechanical drawings, they may be in violation of practicing "engineering". However, an architect is permitted to practice engineering that may be incidental to the practice of architecture. In other words, an architect may provide engineering drawings, so long as the architect is also providing the architectural drawings for the same project.

Q: Are there any situations under which a licensee can seal the documents of an unlicensed person?
A: No. Such a practice constitutes plan stamping, and is considered "aiding and abetting".

Q: Is an architect permitted to seal the documents of another architect under any circumstances?
A: The architect rules permit an architect to use the documents of another architect only if written permission is first obtained from the originating architect or the architect's estate. However, this is not intended to permit the architect to circumvent Ohio's registration or sealing requirements.

Q. What kind of seals may be used in Ohio?
A. Ohio architect may use a metal embossing seal, a rubber stamp seal, or other reproducible facsimile (e.g., electronic seal).

The seal must contain the following information:

  • The seal shall be circular in shape and two inches in diameter.
  • Concentric with the outside of the seal there shall be a circle one and three-eights inches in diameter.
  • The words "State of Ohio" at the top between two knurled circles and the words "Registered Architect" or "Landscape Architect" in a like position at the bottom.
  • The individual's name shall be placed horizontally in the circular field accompanied by the certificate number.

Full size illustration of the required seal:

                           Architect Seal                                             Landscape Architect Seal



Amy Kobe, Hon AIA  Executive Director
77 S. High Street, 16th Floor • Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108
Tel: (614) 466-2316