Advocacy & Legislation

What is Interior Design Legislation, why is it important and what does it have to do with my practice?

The general public is not uniformly aware of what an interior design professional does. Currently, anyone can legally call themselves an interior designer and do some measure of interior design work. Imagine trying to call yourself an architect or a medical doctor. Interior design professionals who have proven through their education, experience and in many cases a qualifying examination should be recognized and given the right to practice their profession to the fullest extent within the scope of their work.

Interior design regulation in the United States began in the 1970s as a way to protect the rights of interior designers to practice, to allow designers to practice to the fullest extent of their abilities and to establish and maintain professional standards that protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Many believe that legal recognition, achieved through licensing, registration, and certification brings uniformity to the profession, defines responsibility, and encourages excellence in the Interior Design industry. Twenty-eight states and jurisdictions have enacted some type of interior design legislation.

Some states have laws that regulate the use of a designation and are enacted in order to raise public awareness of the qualifications of interior design professionals. These laws do not require individuals to become licensed in order to practice interior design, nor do they restrict an individual from providing the service of interior design. A person cannot use this designation unless he or she meets the minimum education, experience and examination requirements established in that state, and he or she fully applies for use of the state-regulated designation with the proper state board. The NCIDQ is the qualifying examination used for this accreditation.

A few states have a type of law that requires an individual to have a license in order to practice a profession. These laws prohibit the performance of professional services by anyone not licensed by the state agency charged with the duty of regulating that profession. 

Thirteen states give professional recognition to qualified interior designers, eleven allow qualified designers to sign and/or seal their projects, and four allow qualified designers to sign, seal and pull permits for their projects.

What do we have in California?

The California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC), established in January 1992, the organization, responsible for administering the California Certified Interior Designers Title Act, under Chapter 3.9, Section 5800 of the California Business and Professions Code.

Title Act went into effect on January 1, 1991, after several years of legislative efforts by commercial and residential interior design groups and by the California Legislative Coalition for Interior Design. The law SB 153 outlined the parameters and responsibilities of work that an interior designer can perform. Along with these guidelines, the title of “Certified Interior Designer” added to the California Business and Professions code, providing an official designation for interior designers who meet the education, experience and examination requirements, as administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC).

CCIDC, in accordance with all State boards and non-profit boards, is accountable to the sunset review process enacted by both the Assembly and Senate of the California legislature. Reviewed every 5 years, or as determined by the legislature for compliance with the statute they administer and are subject to sunset (elimination) if determined to be out of compliance. CCIDC is also subject to the Bagley–Keene Act, a statute specifically enacted only for the operational oversight of all California State boards and commissions.

The CCIDC (California Council for Interior Design Certification) is the private entity which regulates the designation CID, “certified interior designer”. Qualifications for certification are education, experience and passage of the IDEX exam, which is administered by CCIDC. In some jurisdictions a CID may be allowed to pull a permit for a project but it is not universally accepted throughout the state by local building officials.

What would ASID like to see?

ASID supports legislation which does not limit, restrict or prevent the practice of interior design.

ASID would like to strengthen the permitting privileges for those interior design professionals who wish to pull permits and supervise their projects without the supervision of an architect, engineer or general contractor, within the accepted scope of interior design work (non-seismic & nonstructural).

ASID would like to see the NCIDQ exam reinstated in California, AS AN OPTION, for those designers who wish to either have their certification accepted in other states OR for those who wish to advance their membership in their professional organization.

What can you do?

Become and stay informed of the issues affecting interior design legislation in our state. When you pay your yearly dues to National, additionally contribute to help fund legislative efforts. Understand which building industry associations oppose our right to fully practice as interior design professionals. Strive to build relationships with them in order to educate them. There are two legislative coalitions for interior design in California, the California Legislative Coalition for Interior Design (CLCID) and the Interior Design Coalition of California (IDCC). ASID supports the efforts of IDCC ( Become informed as to their mission, join and financially support them. Finally, work to build consensus on policy issues so that all interior design professionals can speak in one voice for the advancement of our chosen profession.