Licensing a Member and Firm

A member requires a licence when they are a practice leader within a registered firm providing the practice of professional accounting services to the public. A practice leader is given authority by the firm to sign or issue reports on behalf of the firm. Firms with at least one member practicing professional accounting must also be licensed.

The practice of professional accounting is a reserved area of practice in subsection 18(1) of The Accounting Profession Act (the Act). The Act provides for limited exemptions from licensing in subsection 18(3). If a non-member or member is relying on an exemption under the Act, they must provide evidence to the Registrar to support that exemption or be subject to a cease and desist order issued by the Registrar.

A member must be issued a licence prior to carrying out any professional accounting services or may be subject to a penalty (Rule 316.4). For more information about whether the type of services provided to the public require licensure and firm registration, see When to Register a Firm.

Types of Licences

Comprehensive Licence: A licence issued when a member or firm qualifies and agrees to practice in all of the sub-categories of the practice of professional accounting as outlined in clause 18(1)(a), 18(1)(b) and 18(1)(c) of the Act. A comprehensive licence allows the member and firm to perform audits of historical financial statements, review engagements, all other assurance engagements, all certifications, declarations, and opinions referencing financial reporting standards, and compilation engagements.

Specified Licence: A licence issued when a member or firm qualifies and agrees to practice professional accounting only in the subcategories outlined in clauses 18(1)(b) and 18(1)(c) of the Act. A specified licence allows the member and firm to perform review engagements, all other assurance engagements, all certifications, declarations, and opinions referencing financial reporting standards, and compilation engagements.

Compilation Licence: A licence issued when a member or firm qualifies and agrees to practice professional accounting in the subcategory outlined in clause 18(1)(c) of the Act specific to compilation engagements only.

Note: At this time, there is no further information about the requirements for a compilation-only licence; however it is expected that there will be minimum practical experience, CPD and competency assessment reference requirements. More information on this, including the opportunity for registrant consultation, will be provided to registrants as it becomes available.

There are 4 minimum qualifications necessary to fulfill on an initial licence application:

  • Education in Assurance and Financial Reporting
  • Eligible Practical Experience Hours
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Competency Assessment

Education in Assurance and Financial Reporting

To qualify for a licence, a member must have obtained depth in the Assurance and Financial Reporting technical competencies (as outlined in the CPA Canada Competency Map) through their professional education program.

Post-Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) Program

The PDPA program is available to members in good standing who do not meet the education qualifications for licensure. This program is available through the CPA Western School of Business. For more information on this program, click here.

CA legacy members have no further education requirements.

CGA or CMA legacy members are required to complete the PDPA Program, which includes at least the PDPA Module and PDPA Examination.

An exemption request may be made to the requirement to complete the PDPA for approval by the Professional Practice Committee. For more information on exemption requests, please contact licensing.

Eligible Hours

An eligible hour is defined in Rule 302.1(f). “Eligible hours” means the time accumulated by a member in providing professional accounting services and includes hours reported as unverifiable continuing professional development relevant to a sub-category of practice of professional accounting.

The number of eligible hours required for a licence differs depending on the licence type:

  Comprehensive Specified
Initial 1250 hours in the practice of professional accounting over the last 5 years, with at least 625 of those hours in audit engagements 1250 hours in the practice of professional accounting over the last 5 years.
Renewal 1250 hours in the practice of professional accounting over the last 5 years, with at least 625 of those hours in audit engagements 625 hours in the practice of professional accounting over the last 5 years.

An exemption request for approval by the Professional Practice Committee may be made when the minimum eligible hours are not met by a licence applicant. For more information on exemption requests, please contact licensing.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Licensed members are required to take a prescribed amount of verifiable continuing professional development (CPD) hours specific to the practice of professional accounting to maintain their licence, as follows:

Comprehensive Specified
50 verifiable hours of CPD over a 3 year rolling cycle 25 verifiable hours of CPD over a 3 year rolling cycle

A CPD Plan may be submitted when the minimum CPD hours are not met by a licence applicant for approval by the Registrar or Professional Practice Committee. For more information on CPD plans related to licensing, please contact licensing.

Competency Assessment Certification

The competency assessment on a member licence application has two parts:

  • a competency assessment from another equivalently licensed member (required on initial application; optional on renewal, then self-assessment is required)
  • a self-assessment by the member (required on initial application; optional on renewal, then competency assessment required)

Exemptions, Conditions or Restrictions on a Licence

The Professional Practice Committee may approve exemptions on a licence, may impose conditions on a licence, may place restrictions on a licence, or may cancel a licence. Exemptions, conditions, or restrictions are noted on the member status as ‘conditional’ or ‘restricted’. The Registrar may impose conditions on a licence or may cancel a licence.

Licence cancellations are published in our firm newsletter and on our website.

For more information or if an application for licensing is required, please email licensing.