CPA Exam Credit Transfer: General Rule and Process

cpa exam credit transferI’ve got a lot of questions on Facebook recently on whether CPA exam credit transfer is possible between states. Here is the background, general rules and process.

CPA Exam Credit Transfer: An Overview

First of all, we need to understand the principle behind the credit transfer. The transfer is generally allowed between states because people within the United States frequently move from one state to another. In the past, when the CPA Mobility Act was not in place, there were restrictions on how an out-of-state CPA could practice. People had to go through the hassle of transferring their exam credits or licenses.

This is no longer an issue because CPAs can work across the country as long as the registered state is considered substantially equivalent (i.e. following the 3E rules). In other words, CPAs can work anywhere and only transfer credits in special circumstances, e.g. if they need a firm license to open their own CPA firm.

Implications on International CPA Candidates

International CPA candidates transfer exam credits for different reasons. Since it is often difficult to fulfill all educational and experience requirement as a foreign national, some candidates try to “game the system” by fulfilling the “easier” educational requirement in one state, done with the exam, then transfer the exam credit to another state with more flexible experience requirement.

There are also cases where international candidates misread the rules and got caught in the licensing process. Common examples among my readers include:

  • Not realizing that California strictly requires social security number for licensing (not required when you sit for the exam);
  • Not realizing that New Hampshire requires candidates to complete all licensing requirements within 6 years.

While gaming the system was possible in the past, the state boards are now working towards a uniform standard and therefore it is much harder to take advantage of the differences.

CPA Exam Credit Transfer: Rule of Thumb

Let’s say a candidate registered in State A and wants to transfer the exam credit to State B.

As a rule of thumb, he has to fulfill both the exam and licensing requirements of State B before State B approves the transfer.

A few states even go further: the candidate must fulfill the exam requirements BEFORE he takes the CPA exam. This means that he cannot make up for any missing courses required by State B if he didn’t have it in the first place. Guam is one of the examples.

How Do I Know the Rule of Each State?

Since there are 55 jurisdictions, there are technically 55 x 55 combinations of rules regarding credit exam transfer.  I am afraid I can’t give you specific advice on CPA exam credit transfer, but I have some suggestions for you at the bottom of this post.

Conclusion

If You Just Started and Haven’t Applied for the Exam…

CPA exam credit transfer is a lot of hassle, if not impossible for some candidates. If you are just about to start, I encourage you to stop thinking about the transfer and map out a workable path with one state board instead.

You can do this by asking these questions:

  • Can I realistically fulfill all the exam and licensing requirements of one state?
  • Can it be done within a reasonable time frame?

Often times, the bottle neck is the experience requirements. Here are the states with more “friendly” requirements for international CPA candidates.

If You Have Passed the Exam but Not Yet Applied for the License

… and find that you cannot fulfill the rest of the requirements to get a license, here are my 3 suggestions:

1. Narrow Down the Choices

If you have a specific “transferee state” (State B) in mind, check out the CPA exam credit transfer rules on its state board’s website. The information can be found in their FAQ section or in the Accounting Rules and Regulation. You may also email the state board directly for help.

2. Make Use of NASBA Resources

After you identify your State B, explore further with this free tool called CPA mobility.

If you have trouble identifying a specific state, or you need more information, there is a database that contains the rules and regulations of the all state board regarding CPA licensing. Every one can access with a fee. If you are serious about the exam, I encourage that you free up half a day and buy a 24-hour pass for US$10. It’s worth it.

3. Check out Guam

If  you need the CPA title for credentials only (i.e. not for practicing public accounting), and that you have no clue and don’t want to take extra courses to fulfill the 150-hour requirement, take a look at Guam’s inactive license. They don’t require 150 credit hours, social security number and experience, but you must have a concentration in accounting.

This is not an ideal choice because the inactive status have certain restrictions, including the fact that your license is not seen as equivalent and may affect your ability to be recognized / practice in other states.

4. Seek Help from Professionals

Leslie-Anne from CPAexcel offers assistance in CPA exam credit transfer. She charges a fee and there is no guarantee of success, but her 16+ years of experience is a good bet to make it happen for you.

If You are Currently Licensed in Another State…

This happens when you plan to work in another state. In many cases CPA license transfer is not necessary, but you need to know the case when the action is required. Check out my separate post on CPA license transfer

For Your Further Reading

If you have other questions, feel free to drop a comment below or on my Facebook page. I will try my best to help!

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites

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  • Mahmoud says:

    Hi

    I am an international candidate and I have passed the CPA exam , I just need the designation of “CPA ” I will not practice in the USA, what do you think its good for me to do,

    Thanks

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Mahmoud, I still think you need to get the license. There isn’t really anything in between these days. The CPA certificates are almost obsolete. Regards, Stephanie

  • Hannah Yoo says:

    Hello,

    I am re-examer at VA but I am currently working in TX. I don’t have 150 credits yet. I was wondering it is possible that I can retake the test at VA and transfer it to TX after I took 30 credits.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Hannah, it should work, but it is best to check with TX to make sure they let you take the credits after (instead of before) the exam. Regards, Stephanie

  • Chandni says:

    Hi…I am registered with the Guam State Board. But I intend to take the exam for the first time in Feb 2017 from Middle East (Dubai) prometric. I need guidance on transfer of exam credits so that I dont have to bother about getting a licence after qualifying. As per my knowledge Guam State requires getting a compulsory licence within 3 years of qualifying the exam if I take exam from Dubai, else the exam credits would lapse and I wont be able to use / designate myself as a CPA .

    New York does not have such licence restrictions even if exam taken from Dubai. In that case I intend to get my credits transferred to New York. Please guide so that I can decide upon taking the exam from Dubai. Thank You very much. Kindly do share some relevant supportings.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Chandni, are you sure New York is fine? I thought the 3-year restriction applies to all states that participate in the international administration program.

  • Keith Brewers says:

    Hi.. I have a question, I am moving in state, but the location is on the border where another big city is located. If I get a job in ND, and I am just starting taking the exams as this will be my first test. If I live in MN and work at a non public service accounting department in ND, do I need to switch any credits I may have accumulated from MN exams in the future to ND? Can I still take the tests with the MN state accountancy board? And the same scenario if I move to ND, and work in ND, can I still test through MN boards? Hopefully this doesn’t confuse you.

    Thank you for your time
    Keith

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Keith, unless you are a partner signing the audit report or one about to launch a CPA firm, your license should be good to use across the states. so shouldn’t be a problem either way. Hope it helps? Stephanie

  • MUhamamd Zubair says:

    Hi, If I get inactive license from GUAM then 3 year restriction on laps of credits on international candidate will still apply?

    Regards,
    Zubair

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Zubair, if you get the inactive license, you are all set. There won’t be a deadline to upgrade it to the active license. Am I answering your question? Stephanie

  • priya says:

    hi, i live in Florida. My eligible state board to appear for exams is Montana. but i would like to work in florida as my husband works here. is there any way that i could get license in florida ? i have done bcom in distance education and ca inter qualified. ca articleship will be helpful during licensing?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Priya, sure you can as long as you fulfill the FL requirements. But based on BCOM + CA I don’t think you are at the moment… you may want to check out this page and see what you are lacking:
      http://ipassthecpaeaxam.com/florida-cpa-exam-requirements/

      But then, having a Montana license should be fine in terms of working in FL as long as you aren’t taking a partnership role in a CPA firm or launch your own CPA firm. In the longer run though, if this is what you plan to do, then it might be worthwhile taking extra steps to go for the FL license. All the best!

  • Katie Kim says:

    Hi,
    I am an international candidate as well and I already pass exams but would like to transfer from Maine to Washington.
    Would Washington allow me to transfer credits?

  • Mohammed Abdelkader says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Can you please provide your information source that proves that New Hampshire requires candidates to complete all licensing requirements within 6 years, as you mentioned in your article?

    I searched this before on Nasba website and it was saying the following in the FAQS regarding licensure:
    Do my Exam credits expire?
    No. Once you have successfully completed all four sections of the Exam, your scores will not expire.
    You will find it in this link https://www.nasba.org/licensure/nasbalicensing/new-hampshire/faqs/

    Thanks

  • Mohammed Abdelkader says:

    Ok I think I got it, it means that I have to gain the experience within 6 years immediately before applying for the license, wow what a relief, I thought that if I didn’t get the license within 6 years after passing the CPA exam my scores will expire lol,

    Thanks stephanie

  • Dave says:

    Hi,

    I’ve passed all 4 exams, but BEC expired last quarter. I heard from someone that some states allow a reinstatement of an expired credit as long as it expired within one quarter. Could I theoretically transfer my credits to a state that allows this, apply for reinstatement of the expired BEC credit, and get my license?

  • Jami says:

    Hi,

    I am currently living and taking the exams in Maryland. I plan to move to Pennsylvania in a few months. I have already passed 2 exams.

    How would I transfer my exams scores? And since I will be taking an exam during Q2 of this year and won’t get my score until mid-August, how do I transfer scores that have not yet been released?

    Thank you!

  • Mickael says:

    Hello stephanie,

    Its Mickael. I am an international candidate and have passed successfully my CPA between July and December 2016 from Alaska board. Now i am willing to get the license , and i saw that Maine has easy requirements and much more less license fee than Alaska. Do u have any idea about Maine initial license fee ? And is it possible to transfer my credits and get the license from Maine ?

    Thank you in advance for ur help !

  • Abdullah says:

    I passed the CPA exam(New Hampshire) last December but I don’t have 150 credit hours .I would like to transfer my credit to another state. Which state do you recommend?

    Regards,

  • Alyssa says:

    Hi,
    I am a graduate student in Texas, but considering moving to Florida either before I begin work in Fall 2018, or in Fall 2019. I intend to start taking the CPA exam next January (in Texas), but wondering if I should either: a) take it in Florida instead, b) wait a year or two and take it in Florida, c) still take it in Texas and somehow transfer either the credit or the license? I’m not positive what would be quickest/the least hassle. I would prefer to just take it in Texas if that would still be valid for Florida.

    Thank you for any advice you can provide!

  • Brooke Gutshall says:

    I lived in PA when I was in college and registered with the state of PA to take the CPA. I never passed when living in PA. I now live and work in GA, and plan to retake the exam in 2018. Can I stay registered in PA and take the exams, then transfer my exam to GA?

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