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International CPA Exam: CPA Exam International Options, Locations, and Steps

You are an international CPA candidate if you are a U.S. citizen or a citizen of a country who lives outside the U.S. and would like to earn the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. As an international candidate, you can not only qualify to appear for the CPA Exam, but also take the CPA Exam outside of the US. 

CPA Exam International Administration: 3 Options

Candidates living outside of the US have three different ways to become a US CPA:

  • Take the IQEX or International Qualification Examination
  • Take the international CPA Exam in your residence or home country
  • Pass the domestic CPA Exam in the US

1. IQEX

Normally, to become a CPA, candidates must pass the CPA Exam that has four sections and a total testing time of 16 hours.

However, owing to mutual reciprocal agreements (MRAs) between NASBA and a few non-U.S. professional associations, certified or chartered accountants who live outside the U.S. and possess a membership of these associations can acquire the US CPA by taking the International Qualification Examination (IQEX). 

You must be a member of the following associations to be eligible to sit for the IQEX instead of the CPA Exam:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland
  • CPA Canada
  • CPA Australia
  • Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Publicos
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Qualified candidates can take the IQEX at CPA testing centres around the world. Prometric operates all of the CPA Exam centres.

If you take the IQEX, you still need to apply to an American CPA jurisdiction to obtain the CPA license. Doing so will involve meeting the CPA experience requirements, the CPA education requirements, and/or the CPA ethics exam requirement as well. 

2. International CPA Exam

Previously, you could only sit for the CPA Exam in the United States. Then, in 2011, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Prometric introduced a number of new international CPA Exam testing centres around the world. Currently, international candidates can sit for the CPA Exam in these countries:

  • Republic of Ireland
  • Bahrain
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Scotland
  • The UAE
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • England

CPA Testing Centers in Brazil

Permanent residents, citizens, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in Brazil:

ArgentinaCayman IslandsEl SalvadorJamaicaSt. Lucia
Antigua/BarbudaChileFrench GuianaMexicoSt. Vincent/Grenadines
BahamasColombiaGuatemalaNicaraguaSuriname
BarbadosCosta RicaGrenadaPanamaTrinidad & Tobago
BelizeDomenicaGuyanaParaguayUruguay
BoliviaDominican RepublicHaitiPeruUnited States
BrazilEcuadorHondurasSt. Kitts/NevisVenezuela

CPA Exam Testing Centers in Japan

Only citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of Japan may sit for the exam in Japan.

CPA Exam Centers in the Middle East

Citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE:

  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Bahrain
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Jordan
  • UAE
  • The U.S.
  • Yemen

CPA Exam Centres in Europe

On October 1, 2018, the AICPA and Prometric expanded the administration of the CPA Exam once again, this time to testing sites in Europe. Specifically, the countries with testing centers in some of their cities include:

  • England: Bristol, London, Manchester
  • Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich
  • Republic of Ireland: Cork, Dublin
  • Scotland: Edinburgh

Therefore, citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in England, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland:

AustriaCyprusFinlandHungaryLithuaniaNorwayRussian FederationSweden

Belgium

Czech RepublicFranceIrelandLuxembourgPolandSlovakia

Switzerland

BulgariaDenmarkGermanyItalyMaltaPortugalSlovenia

United Kingdom

CroatiaEstoniaGreeceLatviaNetherlandsRomaniaSpain

United States

The AICPA and Prometric allow for the international administration of the CPA Exam because many international candidates desire U.S. CPA licensure. Furthermore, international CPA Exam testing centres provide convenience to professional accountants abroad, especially those employed by public accounting firms operating in these regions.

The AICPA used the following criteria to select these countries:

  1. The volume of demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States
  2. The ability to deliver the exam without legal obstacles
  3. The potential security threat to the CPA Exam (in terms of physical security and intellectual property)
  4. The existence of established Prometric testing centres

Similarities Between the Domestic CPA Exam and the International CPA Exam

  • Exam Language (English)
  • Exam Sites (Also operated by Prometric)
  • Notice to Schedule (required to test, no extensions granted)
  • Refund Policy (no refunds granted for any reason)
  • Exam Content
  • Exam Format
    • 4 sections (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG)
    • 16 hours of total testing time (4 hours for each exam)
    • 3 different question types (multiple-choice, task-based simulations, and written communications)
  • Testing Windows
    • January 1 – March 10
    • April 1 – June 10
    • July 1 – September 10
    • October 1 – December 10
  • Education and Experience Licensure Requirements
    • 1-2 years of professional accounting experience
    • 150 credit hours of higher education

Differences Between the Domestic CPA Exam and the International CPA Exam

  • Time Limit for Licensure (*IMPORTANT*):
    • International candidates: must obtain the CPA license within 3 years of passing the CPA Exam
    • Domestic candidates: receive no limit on the time in which they can obtain the CPA license in most states
  • State Board Availability:
    • All but 10 of the 55 state boards don’t participate in the international CPA Exam administration program.
      AlabamaIdahoNew Jersey
      CNMIKentuckyNorth Carolina
      DelawareMississippiVirgin Islands
  • Exam Fees:
    • The exam fees for the international CPA Exam are more expensive than those for the domestic CPA Exam.
    • International CPA Exam fee: $356.55 extra for each exam section.
    • Domestic CPA Exam fee: $208.40 for each exam section.

If you are eligible to take the international CPA Exam, you must visit NASBA’s website and click “Apply Now”. Then, you should learn more about the international CPA Exam application process.

3. U.S. CPA Exam

If you don’t qualify for the IQEX or the international CPA Exam, you must take the U.S. CPA Exam by traveling to the United States. Before 2011, this was the only way for international candidates to take the CPA Exam. Therefore, it’s the tried and true method that many candidates still use today.

If you completed your higher education in the U.S., your application process is the same as that of domestic CPA candidates. And therefore, you can apply to any of the state boards.

On the other hand, candidates who graduated and worked outside the U.S. must take a few extra steps to meet the CPA education and experience requirements. You can learn more about the process of applying for the CPA Exam for international students to discover exactly what you’ll have to do.

Conclusion:

Hope that the above article is helpful to you! If you have any queries, feel free to comment in the section below. Happy Learning!

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