US CPA Exam for Hong Kong Accountants: Here’s the Fast Track

cpa exam for hong kong accountantsHello! We are excited to help Hong Kong candidates interested in the US CPA qualification.

Please click a link below so I can figure out the best way to help:

US CPA Exam for Hong Kong Candidates (with HKICPA Membership)

If you are an accountant and a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), you are in luck because it has become so much easier to become a US CPA thanks to a recent reciprocity agreement.

Background Information

Before the agreement, candidates from Hong Kong have to go through a complicated qualifying process to sit for the exam.

Unlike most countries, the US CPA license is not granted by a single entity but instead by each State Board of Accountancy from the 55 states and jurisdictions. Each state has slightly different CPA exam and licensing requirements which is very confusing for non-US candidates.

With the reciprocal agreement in place, qualifying HK candidates no longer need to:

  • Face the uncertainty of whether they can get qualified;
  • Get their transcripts evaluated by credential evaluation agencies, which can be a big hassle.

Having said that, they still need to:

  • Pick a state to register for the exam;
  • Fulfill the experience requirements of the state board to ultimately get the license.

Reciprocity Between US CPA and HK CPA

In October 2011, the US International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB) and HKICPA entered into a 5-year MRA (Mutual Recognition Agreement) that allows reciprocity between the two accounting bodies. The agreement will be in force until 31 October 2017.

HKICPA members can now enjoy a fast track to get the US CPA license. Here is a comparison between the standard steps to become a US CPA vs the fast track:

Standard Procedure “Fast Track” Procedure
1. Education Requirements
  • Minimum 4-year bachelor degree and in most cases, 150 credit hours.
  • Must go through credential evaluation agencies to evaluate non-US transcripts
  • Bachelor degree recognized by HKICPA
  • Complete Qualification Program (QP) offered by HKICPA
2. Exam Requirements
  • Uniform CPA exam
  • 4 parts totaling 14 hours
  • IQEX
  • 1 part totaling 3 hours
3. Experience Requirements
  • Depend on state, but typically 1-2 years of relevant experience
  • Experience to be verified by US CPA or “equivalent” (may or may not include HK CPA, depend on the state)
  • 3 years of relevant working experience
  • Experience to be verified by US CPA or HK CPA


1. I am from Hong Kong but not a member of HKICPA. Can I get on the fast track?

No, only HKICPA member can enjoy this benefit. Please see information below for non-members.

2. I am a member of HKICPA but I didn’t complete the Qualifying Program (QP). Can I get on the fast track?

Yes if you are a HKICPA on or before December 31, 2001.

3. I am qualified for the fast track but I want to take the Uniform CPA exam instead of this IQEX that I have never heard of. Can I do it?

Yes, but it’s rather silly because IQEX has one exam part vs 4 parts in the standard exam.

4. Can I sit for the IQEX in Hong Kong?

No, at least not at this stage. IQEX exam is held in prometric centers in US and Canada.

9 Steps To Get Your US CPA License With IQEX

  1. Download the IQEX application form from NASBA during the application period from July to August
  2. Obtain Letter of Good Standing from HKICPA
  3. Wait to receive your NTS (Notice to Schedule, i.e. your admission number) from NASBA
  4. Schedule the exam at a prometric center
  5. Study and take IQEX, available two months out of each quarter
  6. Wait for the results (around 20 days after the exam)
  7. Once you pass, pick a state that accepts IQEX candidates
  8. Fulfill the experience required by the state and get the experience verified by either US or HK CPAs
  9. Apply for your wall certificate and AICPA membership. Done!

Do You Have More Information On IQEX?

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US CPA Exam for Hong Kong Candidates (Non HKICPA Members)

The process is more complicated but no worries, it is not the end of the world. What you need to do is to register through a state in the US and go through the Uniform CPA exam.

Now that Hong Kong has switched to the 4-year system at the university level, it will make the qualifying process much easier. Having said that you may still need to make up for some classes to accumulate the required 150 credit hours (in general, it means 5 years worth of study).

12 Steps to Get Your US CPA License though the Uniform CPA Exam

  1. Pick a state that fits your educational background and working experience. Each state has slightly different rules on these requirements.
  2. Send your transcripts to one of the credential evaluation agencies for evaluation. It takes any time from 1 business day (super express) to 8 weeks.
  3. Fill in the application form from your chosen state at the same time.
  4. Wait to receive your NTS (Notice to Schedule, i.e. your admission number) from NASBA
  5. Schedule the exam at a prometric center
  6. Select a CPA review course and start studying
  7. Apply for US visa if required, and arrange travel and accommodation
  8. Take the Uniform CPA Exam
  9. Wait for the results
  10. Depending on the state, you may need to take a CPA ethics exam after passing the Uniform CPA exam
  11. Fulfill the experience required by the state and get the experience verified by US CPA or equivalent
  12. Apply for your wall certificate and AICPA membership. Done!

Sounds like a lot of work even before studying. Can you help me with the application process?

Certainly, but read these articles and narrow down the searches before contacting me:

Got A Question?

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* Photo courtesy of Harry Lawford via creative commons

About the Author Stephanie Ng

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!

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