Common questions and answers about applying for accredited membership

We have included below the answers to some of the more common queries our applicants have.

If you have any other queries, or would like to know more about the process, please contact us at membership [at] and we will be happy to help.

Am I eligible to join?
Anyone who is prepared to subscribe to our Code of conduct and can demonstrate the relevant criteria may apply to become an accredited professional meaning that you would have the right to make decisions about the Institute’s future. This can include anyone who works with archaeological material, whether as paid employment or in a voluntary capacity.
In addition, you do not have to be a field-based archaeologist or have had substantial site experience. CIfA recognises that archaeologists work in many areas of research and heritage management, and can undertake archaeological work within a very broad definition of the historic environment. Overseas applicants are also welcome, but we do require examples of work to be in English as it is our official language.

What does membership mean and what are its benefits?
Accredited membership of CIfA gives you formal recognition as someone who subscribes to high standards of professionalism and at accredited grades demonstrates that your technical competence has been validated. Membership benefits are listed here.

What does it cost?
Accredited members pay an annual subscription fee determined by income. Concessionary rates are available.
There is an application fee to process your application for all grades. At present only re-joiners do not need to pay this.

At what level should I apply to join?
Please read the Application Guide for accredited applications. There are grades suitable for those competent at any level or responsibility. See Section 2 of the guide for a breakdown of all the different grades (accreditations). Using the CIfA competence matrix you will need to determine which grade you can demonstrate through a statement of competence, two referees and portfolio of work. We appreciate that sometimes it is difficult to map your experience against the matrix, and also provide evidence which you feel demonstrates that experience. If you need to discuss your application, please get in touch with us directly at membership [at]

Students and those who do not yet meet the criteria may join as non-accredited members and upgrade in the future.

How do I apply?
All new and upgrading applicants can now apply online. Please click on the links and read the guidance to apply. You will need to fill out your contact details and nominate two appropriate referees. You also need to complete or attach supporting documentation, including a statement of competence and examples of work at ACIfA and MCIfA, plus PDP/CPD log for upgrading and any higher education certificates.

Can I send my references in with my application or do CIfA request them?
Either, it makes the process quicker and easier if you can provide your references with your application, but some referees prefer to keep them confidential so we can still request these. We allow two weeks for these to be returned so please ensure they are available to write one in this time.
Most applications are delayed due to late references.

Who can I ask for help?
Please email membership [at] and we will be happy to help or speak to a colleague who has applied already.

I have an NVQ level 3 in Archaeological Practice, how do I apply?
Please go to the NVQ Fasttrack application page, this will fast track you to Practitioner (PCIfA) grade.

If my membership has lapsed can I rejoin?
Yes. Please go to the re-joiners application page

What happens if I am unhappy with the decision?
There is an appeals process if you do not agree with the decision. See Memberhsip regulations

Can I upgrade my membership status?
Yes. Members can apply for a higher grade by sending in an application the same way as a new applicant. Apply online here

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
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Reading RG6 6DE

0118 966 2841
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