US CPA exam centers are currently available in 4 countries in the Middle East. This convenience allow citizens as well as those in adjacent countries to take the exam without incurring additional time, stress and cost to travel to the US exam sites.
We go through the candidates profile, pass rates, eligibility and what to watch out for in this post.
I don’t have the latest statistics yet, but in 2013 around 1,000 candidates sat for the exam the Middle East exam sites in each testing window (i.e. around 4 thousand each year).
28% of these candidates were from the UAE, 15% from Saudi Arabia and 14% from Egypt.
There has been substantial growth in the number of candidates in the region as shown in the chart below. The countries shown in red are those with exam centers, namely UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bahrain. Location and convenience have a very positive impact on growth rates.
The pass rates range from 31% in Bahrain to 51% in Lebanon, versus around 50% on globally.
The pass rates of international candidates are understandably lower because of the challenges in taking the exam in English, unfamiliar topics e.g. US GAAP and US taxation, and new question style such as the task-based simulations.
The citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents of Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE are qualified to this new scheme.
At the same time, candidates from Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan can travel to any of these 4 Middle Eastern countries to take the exam.
Since September 2014, permanent residents and citizens of India can also sit for the exam in the Middle East.
Here is a short video on this arrangement, as well as the comparison of taking the exam in US vs Middle East testing centers:
Note on the Differences
The differences are mostly restrictions. Not all states choose to participate in allowing their candidates to sit for the exam in these international occasions. This includes California, Delaware and New Jersey. You can check out the list here.
Also, candidates have to obtain a full CPA license within 3 years of passing the exam, or else their exam results will be nullified. In other words, the experience verification has to be completed within this period. I don’t think there are exemptions and waivers, but you can double-check with the state boards.
You are welcome to check out the FAQ page for more info or sign up for my free mini-course to you. It will be in the form of emails and is specifically written for you as an international candidate:
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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!