The American Institute of CPAs and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy have signed a mutual recognition agreement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland to provide a streamlined process for accountants to practice in each other’s country.

The deal offers a clear route for ICAS members to achieve the U.S. CPA and licensure, and for CPAs from the U.S. to attain the CA designation and go on the pathway to U.K. audit signing rights.

“We welcome the mutual recognition that is at the heart of this agreement,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry C. Melancon in a statement. “It will give U.S. CPAs a clear and accelerated path to obtaining a credential in the United Kingdom. And the same is true of ICAS members with an interest in practicing in the United States. Agreements like this come to fruition through the dedication of the respective accounting bodies, the diligence of member volunteers who serve on the International Qualifications Appraisal Board, and the commitment of NASBA and the state boards it represents. Together, we are building increased international recognition for U.S. CPAs in every corner of the world.”

NASBA president and CEO Ken Bishop (left), ICAS CEO Anton Colella, and AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon sign a mutual recognition agreement
NASBA president and CEO Ken Bishop (left), ICAS CEO Anton Colella, and AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon sign a mutual recognition agreement Courtesy of NASBA

Leaders of all three groups participated in a signing ceremony in New York City.

“This is an historic agreement,” said ICAS CEO Anton Colella in a statement. “It’s the first of its kind between a U.K. Chartered Accountancy body and American accountancy bodies, and comes at a pivotal point for the U.K. It not only creates new opportunities in the world of transatlantic trade, but also reinforces the high standing in which we hold our American colleagues, and the expertise they value in us.”

The United Kingdom’s Financial Reporting Council supports the agreement.

“It is remarkable that is has taken decades to reach this historic agreement positively impacting the accounting professions of the United States and Scotland,” said NASBA president and CEO Ken L. Bishop in a statement. “I applaud the tremendous effort and perseverance of the staff and volunteers of the respective organizations to finalize this crucial agreement. We appreciate the participation and support of the U.K’s FRC in this endeavor. The relationships developed during this process will serve us well as we work together on future agreements.”

Eligible CAs and CPAs need only pass one exam, in addition to satisfying other requirements:

  • CAs need only pass the International Qualification Exam (IQEX); and
  • CPAs need only complete the international qualification pathway.

For CAs to take advantage of this agreement, they need to be an ICAS member in good standing and have completed:

  • A baccalaureate (undergraduate) degree;
  • The ICAS CA Qualification Program;
  • Two years post-qualification relevant practical work experience.

To apply, a U.S. CPA should be a licensed CPA in good standing with a state board of accountancy and have completed:

  • An undergraduate degree;
  • The Uniform CPA Exam;
  • State Board experience requirements for licensure; and
  • Achieved two years post-qualification practical work experience.

“This is a really welcome initiative, which my department supports, and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-U.S. co-operation can bring to our businesses,” said U.K. International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox in a statement. “Mutual recognition of qualifications can help boost trade in services, making it easier for our world-leading professionals to operate in other countries. Through our UK-U.S. Trade and Investment Working Group we are looking at how we can support our services industries to work and trade across the Atlantic, building on our £50bn of annual services exports to the USA.”

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