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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.
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:
Having said that, they still need to:
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|
|2. Exam Requirements|
|3. Experience Requirements|
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.
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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).
If you graduate before the switch and had a 3-year bachelor degree, you might want to contact Leslie-Anne Rogers who has the experience in helping out international candidates.
Certainly, but read these articles and narrow down the searches before contacting me:
All you need is to sign up for this (also free) newsletter specifically written for you as an international candidate so you can learn about how to proceed efficiently towards your goal — getting the most recognized and prestigious CPA qualification in the world.
Feel free to learn more about this CPA exam mini-course here before signing up.
* Photo courtesy of Harry Lawford via creative commons
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!