If you are a U.S. citizen or a citizen of another country who lives outside the U.S., and you’d like to earn the American Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, you are a CPA Exam international candidate. As an international candidate, you can definitely qualify to sit for the USA CPA Exam. But can you take the CPA Exam outside of the U.S? Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes, you can. Therefore, I’ll tell you how you can take the international CPA Exam. Plus, I’ll also tell you where by listing each CPA Exam international location.
Basically, candidates living outside of the U.S. have 3 different ways to become a U.S. CPA.
Furthermore, I’ll explain these options in detail and reveal the CPA Exam locations for each so you can determine which is best for you.
Normally, CPA candidates must pass the CPA Exam. The CPA Exam has 4 sections and 16 hours of total testing time.
However, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) has mutual reciprocal agreements (MRAs) with certain non-U.S. professional associations. And in essence, certified or chartered accountants living outside the U.S. with membership in these associations can more easily obtain the U.S. CPA. Basically, they just need to pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX). In short, the IQEX is one exam that you have 4 hours to take.
Furthermore, you must be a member of the following associations to be eligible to take the IQEX instead of the CPA Exam:
In addition, qualified candidates can take the IQEX at CPA testing centers around the world. Prometric operates each CPA Exam site.
Moreover, CPA international students who take the IQEX still need to apply to an American CPA jurisdiction to receive the CPA license. Likewise, candidates must meet the CPA education requirements, the CPA experience requirements, and/or the CPA ethics exam requirement as well. So, if you believe you may qualify for this CPA Exam alternative, learn more about the IQEX so you can get started.
Not long ago, you could only sit for the Certified Public Accountant Examination in the United States. Then, in the 2011 CPA Exam format, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Prometric launched a number of new international CPA Exam testing centers around the world. Currently, international candidates can sit for the CPA Exam in these countries:
In June 2022, the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric jointly announced policy changes for international candidates taking the CPA Exam.
In the past, candidates were restricted to where they could take the CPA Exam based on their residency or citizenship. For example, in many cases, you could only take the exam in your own country or perhaps another country in your region. For example, if you lived in Japan, you couldn’t take the CPA Exam in Brazil.
But now, those rules have changed. Unless you are applying for the CPA license in a handful of jurisdictions that don’t participate in the international administration of the exam (Alabama, Idaho, New Jersey, North Carolina, and the Virgin Islands), international candidates can take the CPA Exam at any international testing location. (And to clarify, international testing locations are considered to be those outside the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.)
So now, using our example from above, a CPA candidate from Japan could theoretically go to Brazil to take the exam. This example might be a little extreme, but it still shows you how much more flexibility international candidates now have!
Citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents pursuing the CPA in Middle East countries no longer have to travel to the U.S. to take the exam. Instead, they can stay in their own region as long as a Prometric testing center is open. Therefore, here’s a complete list of CPA sites in the Middle East:
Moreover, you can sit for the exam in one of these Middle East countries if you’re a citizen or long-term resident of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen, or the U.S.
To start, please note that the CPA India testing locations are new. However, these new CPA Exam centers give CPA international candidates more options when they are ready to sit for their exams. According to NASBA, the exam is currently offered at Prometric sites in 8 Indian cities:
The testing centers in Brazil are popular with CPA candidates living in or near South America. Therefore, if you’re from the following countries, you could take the CPA Exam in Brazil for convenience. (Remember, though, depending on your jurisdiction, you might be able to take it in any country with a testing center.)
|Argentina||Cayman Islands||El Salvador||Jamaica||St. Lucia|
|Antigua/Barbuda||Chile||French Guiana||Mexico||St. Vincent/Grenadines|
|Barbados||Costa Rica||Grenada||Panama||Trinidad & Tobago|
|Bolivia||Dominican Republic||Haiti||Peru||United States|
Several CPA Exam testing centers are open in Asia, including Japan, Nepal, and the Republic of Korea. In fact, the Japanese sites were some of the earlier international exam sites to open outside of the United States.
To learn more about registering for the CPA Exam in Asia, check out this post about Prometric test centers.
Recently, 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:
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 centers provide convenience to professional accountants abroad, especially those employed by public accounting firms operating in these regions.
What’s more, the AICPA used the following criteria to select these countries:
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.
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 CPA locations. 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.
However, 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. Consequently, 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.
Alternatively, Guam is one of the 55 jurisdictions. So, if you live close to Guam, you can pay some extra fees per section to take the exam there. For example, I took the exam in Guam and spent a couple of days vacationing there afterward.
In sum, no matter where you take the CPA Exam, you’ll have a better chance of passing the exam if you use a CPA review. All of the best CPA review courses available offer self-study online courses perfect for CPA international candidates. Plus, your studies should center on CPA review materials that meet your learning style. Furthermore, I have many great CPA review discounts that you can use to save big on these courses.
For even more help with the international CPA Exam, you can sign up for my free international e-course. Plus, this course will help you see if earning the CPA is a possibility for you. And if so, how to do it.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!