The CPA application process is confusing for all, and international candidates often don’t know where to begin. How does one go about the process if you’re not even living in the United States?
Don’t worry, the application process is pretty much the same for everyone, no matter where in the world you are living. I am going to break down how the CPA exam works on an international level so your application process will be the last thing you are stressing about when studying for the test.
I Don’t Live in the USA: Can I Take the CPA Exam?
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to be a US Certified Public Accountant (CPA). You do need to meet the Board of Accountancy eligibility requirements in one of the 54 U.S. jurisdictions. These include the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The 55th jurisdiction, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, is not yet ready to accept CPA applicants.
In order to qualify for the exam at one of the international locations, you will first have to prove that you are eligible through application to a state board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration Program. In 2011, the CPA Exam opened up Prometric test centers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Brazil. The entire CPA Exam is in English, so you must be fluent (I bet you already are if you’re reading this article).
The Application Process for the CPA Exam
International students have an extra hurdle in the CPA exam application process, but other than that the process is the same. If you are planning on taking the CPA internationally, you must have your educational credentials evaluated.
If you didn’t go to school in the US, there needs to be an evaluation of your credits to make sure that you match the educational standard set by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). This step should be completed before you start the application process, since it can take up to 6 or 8 weeks for your international education to be approved. Check here for evaluation services from NASBA.
The remainder of the application process is basically the same for both U.S. and international CPA candidates. You begin by selecting the U.S. jurisdiction to which you will apply and then you must contact the Board of Accountancy in your chosen jurisdiction to gather the proper application materials. Lastly, you will fill out the application, submit it, and then pay the fees.
Once your education has been deemed qualified, you will receive your Notice to Schedule which will let you register for your CPA exam at a Prometric center. You can see more details for this process in my application process blog post.
You should also look into which test prep you will be using. It’s very important you start that sooner than later, so checkout the best review courses!