All referees affiliated with FIFA have a designated referee level – or as US Soccer calls it – a designation. The designation indicates the qualification of the referee to officiate at various levels of local, national and international soccer competition.

US Soccer has done away with “grades.” Please refer to the table below to determine your designation.

FIFAFormerly known as Grades 1 and 2 Referees. Referees and Assistant Referees who officiate in the World Cup and international matches.
P.R.O,P.R.O. Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate matches in any domestic competition, including MLS, as well as certain international matches.

P.R.O. is an independent company, supported by U.S. Soccer, that administers professional referee programs in North America. Candidates are selected by P.R.O. based on performance at the National Referee and Assistant Referee level.
NationalFormerly Grades 3 & 4. U.S. Soccer National Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate national and professional matches in any league except MLS. This includes the USL Championship and NWSL.

National Referees and Assistant Referees are selected and certified directly by U.S. Soccer.
RegionalFormerly Grades 5 & 6. U.S. Soccer Regional Referees are qualified to officiate competitive state competitions, regional events and professional leagues including NPSL and USL League Two.

Regional Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committees.
GrassrootsFormerly Grades 7, 8 & 9. A referee’s journey begins at the Grassroots level. U.S. Soccer Grassroots Referees are qualified to officiate competitive, small-sided or recreational youth matches and amateur adult matches.

The U.S. Soccer Grassroots License has both an online and in-person component. Grassroots Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committees.

As referees advance to higher grades they are required to demonstrate their continued qualification for their grade through “maintenance” assessments and sustained high level competition experience. Regional Referees or higher are also required to successfully pass a physical fitness testing, maintenance assessments and a written test annually. The results of this testing are recorded to fulfill part of the annual registration / recertification qualifications. In rare circumstances referees who fail to maintain their qualifications are “down graded” and this is reflected on their next registration.