US CPA Exam for International Candidates
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The U.S. Certified Public Accountant (USCPA) designation, a globally esteemed credential, offers international candidates opportunities for career advancement, increased salaries, and job satisfaction and security.
The NASBA's International CPA Examination Administration Program is available to international candidates seeking initial CPA licensure. Non-U.S. candidates must apply through a participating jurisdiction to take the Uniform CPA Examination and become a licensed CPA. The majority of U.S. jurisdictions participate in the International CPA Examination Program, with only a few jurisdictions that haven’t participated yet.
How Do International Candidates Become Certified Public Accountants?
International candidates must meet the eligibility requirements to become CPAs. Most State Boards of Accountancy require individuals with foreign academic credits to have their credentials evaluated. Evaluations must be performed by members of the National Association of Credentials Evaluation Services (NACES). The NASBA Members Page has a list of recognized foreign credential evaluation services in every jurisdiction.Steps to become a USCPA:
- Choose a U.S. jurisdiction
- Contact the Board of Accountancy
- Submit your application and pay any fees
- Once approved, schedule your CPA Exam section(s)
- Pass all four sections of the CPA section within 18 months
- Once you meet the licensure requirements, you may apply for your CPA license
Eligibility Requirements for International CPA candidates
Candidates may take the CPA Exam in the United States or at one of the international CPA Exam testing centers if they meet the requirements of one of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions. The requirements are as follows:
Citizenship and Social Security Number
Some states in the US require that applicants hold a Social Security Number or a Citizenship. However, international candidates are exempt from this requirement in the following states:
While most states allow international candidates to be licensed in the state, residency requirements do exist in certain states, which may require that you reside in their jurisdiction or conduct significant business for at least 6 months.
Candidates must have at least 120 credit hours towards a four-year degree from an accredited institution. In the majority of jurisdictions, students are required to take courses in business law, accounting, finance, taxation, and auditing. Most states require you to complete 150 semester hours to take the CPA Exam. Some states allow you to sit for the exam after you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, but you’ll still need to complete a total of 150 semester hours.
Work Experience Requirements
All jurisdictions mandate work experience for licensure. In many states, work experience must be directly supervised by an active CPA with a valid U.S. license. Some states may permit your work experience to be verified by an active CPA licensed by a U.S. jurisdiction or an international certification equivalent.
How To Apply for The International CPA Exam?
It might seem like preparing for the CPA Exam is harder than taking the CPA Exam itself. After all, the application has a lot of different parts, which could make the process a little confusing. This is especially true since the requirements for the CPA Exam vary from state to state. One thing to note is that there are two ways to apply for the CPA Exam: through the State Boards of Accountancy or NASBA.Steps To Follow:
- Step 1: Select a U.S. jurisdiction and apply via a participating State Board of Accountancy.
- Step 2: Wait for the Notice to Schedule letter.
- Step 3: Apply to take tests abroad and complete the international registration procedure.
- Step 4: Schedule to take the exam at a foreign location.
Where Can International Cpa Candidates Take The Cpa Exam?
In collaboration with the AICPA and Prometric, NASBA offers international administration of the Uniform CPA Examination. Here is a list of countries that administer the International CPA Exam:
- United Arab Emirates
How To Choose And Find The Best US Jurisdiction For You?
International CPA candidates face a few additional concerns while deciding which U.S. jurisdiction to apply under for CPA certification. More importantly, international candidates must choose and submit an application through a specific U.S. jurisdiction.
Understand The State Board Requirements Of U.S. Jurisdictions
Education and experience requirements vary by state. If you are from an unaccredited institution, you must meet additional requirements in order to be accepted. Furthermore, CPA Exam requirements cover all of your state board specifications and exam-related queries.
The majority of the information that CPA candidates need is available online. While NASBA provides some information on all U.S. jurisdictions, many state boards maintain their own websites with contact info, so you can reach out to them directly.
The NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES) is an excellent tool for refining your search for jurisdictions that meet your education and documentation specifications. NIES will recommend up to three jurisdictions based on your education, residency, and SSN.
Which U.S. Jurisdictions Allow International Candidates To Take The Cpa Exam?
In order to qualify to take the CPA Exam outside the U.S., you will have to establish your eligibility through a jurisdiction participating in the international administration of the exam. Here are five of the most popular jurisdictions that non-US applicants prefer:
Also, here are some of the less popular jurisdictions that can be good options for international applicants:
Note: The above states have seen some changes in rules and eligibility requirements in recent times - flexibility in work experience requirements, total credit hours required, etc. We recommend you consult the State Boards of Accountancy to understand these changes.
Jurisdictions that do not currently participate in the international administration of the exam are listed below.
IQEX for CPA Exam International Candidates
The International Qualification Examination (IQEX) is established by the AICPA and administered by NASBA. It allows qualified accountants with international training to bypass U.S. specific requirements. The exam focuses on granting U.S. CPA licenses to accountants from countries where professional bodies have signed a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with US Boards of Accountancy.
Who Is Eligible For IQEX?
Through their membership with non-U.S. professional associations that have reciprocity agreements with the U.S. accounting profession, international candidates can earn their USCPA certification by passing the IQEX exam. Six organizations currently maintain such agreements with the United States:
- The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
- The Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos (IMCP)
- The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
- The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
You may be eligible to take the IQEX exam if you are affiliated with one of these institutions.
Note: Before beginning the application process, review each institution's eligibility requirements for taking the IQEX examination.
Why Should You Take the IQEX Exam?
If you are a non-US accounting professional, then you should appear for the International Qualification Examination (IQEX). It will help you enhance your credentials and expand your career options.
IQEX Exam Sections and Format
IQEX is a three-hour exam. For this exam, the topics covered are similar to those covered in the Regulation portion of the US CPA Examination and include:
- Ethics, Professional, and Legal Responsibilities (15% – 19%)
- Business Law (17% – 21%)
- Federal Tax Process, Procedures, Accounting, and Planning (11% – 15%)
- Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12% – 16%)
- Federal Taxation of Individuals (13% – 19%)
- Federal Taxation of Entities (18% – 24%)
|Testlet 1||24 multiple-choice questions|
|Testlet 2||24 multiple-choice questions|
|Testlet 3||24 multiple-choice questions|
|Testlet 4||6 task-based simulations|
IQEX vs CPA Exam
Even though there are similarities, IQEX is not a replacement for the US CPA Examination. It tests specific areas of accounting practice in the United States.
IQEX is equivalent to the CPA Exam's Regulation (REG) section. Therefore, there is only one exam section on the IQEX. In contrast, the Uniform CPA Exam consists of four parts: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). As an IQEX candidate, you are exempt from taking the remaining three sections of the CPA Exam. So, taking the CPA Exam, as opposed to the IQEX exam, entails enduring approximately four times as many testing hours and answering four times as many questions.Exam Format
IQEX only has the REG CPA Exam section. It is four hours long and consists of five testlets with two types of questions: multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and task-based simulations (TBS). The multiple-choice questions require you to select the best answer from four options. The TBSs are case studies that must be completed using the provided information.Fees and Costs
The total cost of the IQEX is slightly less than the total CPA Exam fee.
- For both IQEX and CPA, you need to submit an application fee to your jurisdiction.
- For IQEX, the fees are paid after the exam, and for the CPA Exam, you pay in advance.
- Some jurisdictions charge re-registration fees to retake the CPA Exam. IQEX candidates are exempt from these fees.
|Cost of Exam||IQEX||CPA|
|Application (for jurisdiction)||$30-$200
(paid after the exam)
(paid before the exam)
|Exam / Application fee||$835||$833.60 ($208.40 per section)|
|Total||$1,444 - $2,804||$2,062 - $5,852|
What Is the Iqex Exam Pass Rate?
Since the IQEX exam pass rates are never disclosed publicly, you can use the REG exam pass rate as a reference.
Where and When Can You Take the IQEX Exam?
The IQEX and the CPA Exam are both administered by Prometric. Prometric testing centers are available all over the world. Both the CPA Exam and the IQEX are now being tested on a continuous basis. IQEX testing centers are open 24/7, so candidates are free to sign up at any time and take the exam. This means there will no longer be IQEX testing windows.
Steps to Apply for the IQEX
- Fill out the application form on the NASBA website.
- Ensure your credentialing institution sends out a letter of good standing to NASBA. Once NASBA receives your application and letter, they will share the notice to schedule (NTS). The NTS will become available in 5 days and is valid for 6 months.
- Upon receiving the NTS, please verify that all the information is correct. If not, contact NASBA for corrections.
- Schedule your exam through Prometric’s website.
- On the day of the exam, bring 2 forms of identification and the NTS.
How Do You Get Licensed After Taking the IQEX?
You can apply for the U.S. CPA license after passing IQEX. However, you are allowed to apply through jurisdictions that are a part of the program. Boards of accountancy exist in 55 jurisdictions. Out of the 55 jurisdictions, 48 accept IQEX candidates for CPA certification. The CPA applications of IQEX candidates from all 8 MRA associations are sent to all but one of these jurisdictions.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to sit for the CPA Exam?
What is the structure of the international CPA Exam?
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Read more about the CPA Exam
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