International CPA candidates, including US citizens who resides in foreign countries, have longed for an opportunity to take the CPA exam closer to home.
CPA Exam International Administration: 3 Options
For candidates with non-US background, there are 3 possible ways to become a CPA in the US:
- Take a “mini” CPA exam, known as the IQEX
- Take the CPA exam in your home or residence country
- Take the CPA exam in the US
AICPA, the national association of the CPAs, have signed up reciprocal agreements with certain countries such that it becomes much easier for the certified or chartered accountants in these countries to get an additional title in the United States.
IQEX is a 3-hour exam (vs the regular 14-hour CPA exam). You must be a member of the following associations to enjoy the benefits:
- Legacy of CICA (Canada)
- IMCP (Mexico)
- ICAI (Ireland)
- ICAA (Australia)
- HKICPA (Hong Kong)
- NZICA (New Zealand)
Note that you still need to pick a state and go through the regular requirement notably related to working experience to get the full license. Please go to this page on IQEX for further information.
2. Taking the US CPA Exam in Your Home or Residence Country
In 2011, AICPA launched a number of new CPA exam international centers around the world. The current sites are located in the following countries:
These countries are selected based on the following 4 criteria:
- Volume demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States
- Ability to deliver the exam without legal obstacles
- Security threat to the CPA exam (in terms of physical security and intellectual property)
- Existence of established prometric centers
What’s the Same as the Domestic Testing Sites
- Exam format
- Testing windows
- Setting (sites also run by Prometric)
- Education and experience requirements
- *IMPORTANT* You have to obtain the license within 3 years after passing the CPA exam. In most states, there is no restriction if you take the exam within the US.
- Some state boards don’t participate in this international administration program. Check out the list here.
- More expensive exam fees:
- AUD: $307.97
- BEC: $327.49
- FAR: $307.97
- REG: $327.49
(i) I am not a citizen/resident of these countries but I live pretty close by. Am I eligible?
No, I am afraid not. You have to be a citizen, permanent resident or long-term resident of these countries in order to get qualified. Proof of your status is required.
The exception is for the middle east countries, notably Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The citizen, permanent resident and long-term resident may sit for the exam in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE. Same case applies to South American countries taking the exam in Brazil.
Citizens and permanent residents of India are now allowed to sit for the exam in the Middle East. Here is the announcement from AICPA for your reference.
(ii) I am applying for California and I live in Egypt. Can I take the exam in one of the international locations?
No, not for California, because the state board does not participate in this arrangement. Here is a list of non-participating states for your reference.
(iii) Anything else I should be aware of?
You cannot get a refund or apply for an extension of the NTS should you fail to appear for the exam in the international location.
Looks Like I am Qualified. What’s the Next Step?
Go to the NASBA page for the desired state and there should be a button called “Test internationally” (for example, for Colorado it is in the bottom right hand corner of the page). Click away and pay the fee.
3. Taking the CPA Exam in the US
This is the default route — travel to any of the 55 jurisdictions and sit for the exam. This is the way if you do not qualify for the #1 and #2 route.
It may seem unfair that some people are allowed to take the exam in their home country… but Route #3 has been the only way for every international candidate before 2011. Hope this makes you feel better 🙂
If you live close to Guam, you can sit for the exam there too! I took the exam in Guam and spent a couple of days vacationing afterwards. There is an extra $200 fee if you choose to take the exam in Guam.
Any Other Questions?
NASBA has a hotline for international candidates:
1.CPA Exam Services (newly extended hours)
- 800-CPA-EXAM or 615-880-4250
- Days and hours of operation: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (UTC – 5)
2. Guam Call Center
- 1-855-CPA-GUAM or 671-300-7441
- Days and hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guam uses Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9)
For Further Information
- Official AICPA international testing FAQ
- International candidate consent agreement (wordings on the 3 year restriction can be found on p.2)
I am Here to Help!
Besides asking a question on Facebook, you can sign up for my newsletter specifically written for you as an international candidate. From there you can learn about whether getting the CPA is possible for you, and if so, how to proceed.
Enter your name and email address and
I will send you the newsletter right away!