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How to Set up a Public Accounting Practice 

If you are providing accounting services to the public as defined by Bylaw 1.1.31 or practicing public accounting as defined by the Public Accounting Act, 2004, you must register a practice with CPA Ontario.  Providing accounting services to the public or practicing public accounting can be done on a full-time, part-time, subcontract, or consulting basis and include but are not limited to the following services:

  • the performance of any engagement addressed by standards in the CPA Canada Handbook- Assurance for which a licence is not required under the Public Accounting Act, 2004 to perform the engagement;
  • accounting insofar as it involves analysis, advice and interpretation in an expert capacity, but excluding record keeping;
  •  taxation, insofar as it involves advice and counselling in an expert capacity, but excluding mechanical processing of returns;
  • compilation services, if it can reasonably be expected that all or any portion of the compilation or associated materials prepared by the Member providing the service will be relied upon or used by a third party, whether or not a licence is required under the Public Accounting Act, 2004; and
  • the provisions of the services described in s. 2 of the Public Accounting Act, 2004 excluding any exceptions to services listed in s. 3 of that Act.


Providing Services requiring a Public Accounting Licence

If you are registering a Firm that is performing public accounting services requiring a licence, you must obtain a public accounting licence. A public accounting licence is required when you are the lead engagement person responsible for signing the report or statement issued in respect of any:

  • assurance engagement (including an audit or review engagement), or
  • any compilation engagement in respect of which it can be reasonably expected that the services will be relied upon or used by a third party and the prescribed wording for the notice to reader is not used; and
  • the report is issued in Ontario or the work for the engagement is primarily performed in Ontario.


For more information regarding obtaining a public accounting licence, please visit: Public Accounting Licensing

If you intend to perform public accounting services requiring a licence through a professional corporation, the professional corporation will need to be authorized to practise as a public accountant in accordance with the Public Accounting Act, 2004 and the Bylaws and Regulations of Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. Information is available at:
Professional Corporations .

For further information about public accounting licensing in Ontario please click here.

Steps on how to set up a Public Accounting Practice:

Step 1 – Register a Public Accounting Practice with CPA Ontario 

(To have your Practice Name pre-approved, please contact CPA Ontario Registrar at

Step 2 – Obtain Professional Liability Insurance

Step 3 – Note the following Helpful Resources

Step 4 – Be Familiar with Independence Rules

Firm Updates

Members and Firms are reminded of Bylaw 4.17.6, which requires a Firm to notify the Registrar in writing of any significant change in practice, composition or structure ten (10) days prior to such change being effected, failing which, the rights and privileges of the Member and Firm may be suspended by the Registrar. A significant change includes but is not limited to a merger, acquisition, closure or dissolution of a Firm. In order effect any such changes with CPA Ontario, completion and submission of a Firm Update Form (Form 4-6A) is required.


If you require further assistance please contact Practice Advisory at (416) 962-1841 x 4456 or
1-800-387-0735 x 4456 or e-mail