Last year I asked if FIDE were going to extend the rules around inactivity for new players, players and arbiters. They did so for players but not arbiters. Now they have made radical changes to the rules for arbiters. What are they?

It's probably worth giving a quick summary of the types of arbiters and the previous rules.

National Arbiter (NA)
This is the lowest level of arbiter. Think of them as trainees. The only FIDE requirement is that their national federation registers them with FIDE and pays a 20 euro fee. Some federations have additional requirements. Mine, for instance, required me to attend the FIDE arbiters seminar and pass the associated exam and then qualify as a federation national arbiter first.

NAs can be chief arbiters in the lowest level of FIDE rated tournaments.

NAs never become inactive.

FIDE Arbiter (FA)
This is the lowest level of qualified FIDE arbiter. They are required to attend the arbiters' seminar, pass the exam and achieve 3 arbiter norms at the FA level. These are spelt out in article 3 of B.06.1 – FIDE Regulations for the Titles of Arbiters on the FIDE website. Additionally there is a 80 euro registration fee.

FAs can be chief arbiters in tournaments up to norm event level. They can be deputy chief arbiters in strong international events and ordinary arbiters in all events.

Pre-covid FAs became inactive after 2 years of inactivity (not being any kind of arbiter in any FIDE rated event). To become active again all that was necessary was for the arbiter's federation to tell FIDE and pay the registration fee again.

International Arbiter (IA)
This is the main level of qualified FIDE arbiter. They are required to first qualify as FAs and then achieve an additional 3 arbiter norms at a higher level than FAs. Whereas FAs can achieve a norm in any FIDE rated event norms for the IA title must be in events where title norms are available. These are spelt out in the same document as for FAs.

The pre-covid rules for inactivity are the same as for FAs, just that the re-registration fees are higher.


There are two significant changes.

  1. There is a re-registration requirement, although without having to also pay again. If you look through lists of inactive arbiters and check their arbiting records you find that many inactive arbiters have been inactive for not just years but for decades. In Europe there have also been new data protection laws for the past few years which FIDE has probably not been in full compliance with. I know that when I first became an NA FIDE published my home address and phone number without telling me. Now all FAs and IAs are required to visit the FIDE Database enhancement page on the the FIDE website, complete the form and submit before 31st October 2021 to maintain their active status.
  2. All FAs and IAs are required, once every four years, to attend a Refresher Course to maintain their active status. The purpose of this is to ensure that arbiters kept uptodate with the latest FIDE laws. These laws are normally updated once every four years.

Notes on re-registration
The form includes a link to what you are agreeing to when you click on "Submit" and you should definitely first click on the link. The full title of the link is "INFORMATION AND CONSENT UNDER 2016/679/EU – GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION – ART. 13 AND FOLLOWING AND FIDE DATA PROTECTION POLICY". It's probably worth noting that FIDE gives itself more powers than it currently exercises (at least in my case). In particular:

By giving your consent, you agree that:
• FIDE collects your Name, Surname, Birthday, Federation, Gender (M or F), email address, physical addresses, place and date of birth, nationality, phone numbers and bank details and local taxes details.
• FRS may host a picture of yours.
• Your data will be stored electronically and in paper.
• Your data will be visible to any visitor of FIDE website who may see: Name, Surname, Year of birth, Federation, Gender (M or F), rating, title and inactivity flag. [so, thank goodness, they are not going to publish our address, phone number and bank details]

Notes on "inactivity"
Details are spelt out in article 2 of B.06.3 – FIDE Regulations for the Classification of Arbiters. The effect of the changes, so I was told, is to bring FAs and IAs more into line with NAs. For NAs there is no penalty for becoming inactive. For FAs and IAs the implication is that they are not fully aware of the latest laws and so may officiate in low level FIDE rated competitions, like NAs, but not in higher ones in any position of great responsibility. This can be repaired by taking the refresher course with no additional re-registration fee although the course is not going to be free.

Significant points are:

2.1 An IA or FA is considered to be “Inactive” if in a period of four (4) years they have not successfully attended a Refresher Course organized by the FIDE Arbiters’ Commission. When an arbiter reaches his “end of activity” date, his status is changed to “Inactive”.

2.1.1 An inactive arbiter may not officiate as the Chief Arbiter in any FIDE rated tournaments, except in those where no possibilities of norms for players exist.

2.1.2 An inactive arbiter may not be selected to officiate in any official FIDE or Continental events.

Basically inactive FAs and IAs can't be the Chief Arbiter in a norm event.

Since currently no arbiters have done this course there are transition rules regarding the date you have to take it by as follows:

2.6 Transition 2021 – for a smooth implementation of the new regulations. The initial end of activity date will be calculated as follow, as the new regulations come into force:

2.6.1 Active arbiters with a last tournament in 2016 or before: 31/12/2020, status set to inactive.

2.6.2 Active arbiters with a last tournament in 2017: IA 31/12/2021 – FA 31/12/2022

2.6.3 Active arbiters with a last tournament in 2018: 31/12/2022

2.6.4 Active arbiters with a last tournament in 2019: 31/12/2023

2.6.5 Active arbiters with a last tournament in 2020: 31/12/2024

  • May I amend as German NA: National federations may have stricter rules for their NAs. Germany e.g. has a mandatory education seminar all 5 years: schachbund.de/srk-downloadarchiv.html - skip that and you're inactive, another 2 years and it is toast. – Hauke Reddmann May 19 at 11:44
  • @HaukeReddmann No. The question and answer relate to FIDE regulations. In the question I do say "Some federations have additional requirements." If you want to pose your own question regarding the Schachbund's rules then feel free. – Brian Towers May 19 at 12:05

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