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Public Accounting Licensing

Public Accounting Licensing

Public Accounting Services

If you wish to engage in the practice of public accounting in Ontario, you are required to hold an active Public Accounting Licence ("PAL"). Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to apply for one.

Obtaining a PAL

CPA Ontario is authorized by the Public Accountants Council (PAC) for the province of Ontario to license and govern our members in the practice of public accounting.


Who Can Obtain a PAL?

A CPA Ontario member who is active and in good standing may apply for a PAL. However, a PAL can only be granted if the member has fulfilled the requirements established by CPA Ontario and the Standards established by the PAC for licensing eligibility.

CPA Ontario students are not eligible to obtain a PAL prior to admission to membership. Learn more about the Public Accounting path and the choices you need to make in your CPA Program in order to be eligible for a PAL upon admission to membership.


When Is a PAL Required to Be Held by a Member?

A PAL is required when you are engaging in the practice of public accounting and you are the lead engagement person responsible for signing the report or statement issued related to:

  • any assurance engagement (including an audit or review engagement), or
  • any compilation engagement where services may 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.

 A PAL is not required if you:

  • are not the lead engagement person responsible for signing the report or statement. Members of the engagement team who are not the lead engagement person, including the quality control review partner, are not required to be licensed; or
  • do not provide any assurance services (including audit or review engagements) but do provide other services including: compilations in which the services may be relied upon or used by a third party and the prescribed wording for the Notice to Reader is used, taxation, accounting, internal audit, controllership, insolvency services, or business advisory services.


How to Apply for a PAL

Applications are reviewed by the Public Accounting Licensing Board (“PALB”). If you are granted a PAL, you will have public accounting practice rights in Ontario. You will receive a licence in the mail within four weeks of approval. Your name will be added to the Directory of Public Accounting Licensees and the Roll of Public Accountants.

Each new PAL is effective as of the date on which it is approved by the PALB and expires on October 31 each year. You must renew your PAL on an annual basis if you wish to maintain public accounting rights in Ontario. 

The PAL application fee is $214.70 ($190 + $24.70 HST). This fee is nonrefundable in the event that your application is denied, or closed for failure to submit a complete application within the time prescribed in the regulation (within 30 days).

For more details on the Public Accounting Licensure requirements, refer to Regulation 9-1 or the Licensing FAQs below.

See also:


How to Renew Your Public Accounting Licence

The public accounting licensing period is November 1 to October 31. Licensees are reminded that your PAL expires on October 31 and you must complete the PAL renewal process by October 1 each year in order to maintain a licence.

Renew your PAL by completing the online Public Accounting Licence Renewal Declaration (Form 9-1B) and paying the annual renewal fee before the October 1 deadline.

Please see the FAQs for more information about the PAL renewal requirements.

Exemption

Members who provide public accounting services without reward, under certain conditions, are exempted by Ontario Regulation 238/05 from the requirement to be licensed. Members who provide these services, however, are required to have professional liability insurance coverage.

Public accounting services for this purpose includes one or more of the following:

  • assurance including auditing or review engagements;
  • compilations not accompanied by the prescribed Notice to Reader if it can reasonably be expected that all or any portion of the compilations or associated materials will be relied upon or used by a third party.

The additional requirements that must be met are that the assurance engagement must be done:

(a) by a person who is a member of a professional accounting body that administers a process for addressing public complaints against its members and who is insured against professional liability; and

(b) on a basis that is independent of the person for whom the services are being provided.


Insurance requirement for members providing assurance services without reward

To assist members who provide assurance services without reward for small charitable and not-for-profit organizations, CPA Ontario's Council have approved the establishment of a policy to provide insurance coverage at no cost to such members, providing that they register with CPA Ontario and meet certain prescribed terms and conditions. One of the conditions is that each organization for which assurance services are provided without reward have annual gross revenue from all sources of $100,000 or less.

To determine if you qualify for such coverage under CPA Ontario’s policy and to apply for coverage, please complete and submit an application form.

Members who provide assurance services without reward for organizations having annual gross revenue in excess of $100,000 or who otherwise do not meet the prescribed terms and conditions must obtain their own insurance coverage. They are also required to file annually with CPA Ontario a declaration confirming the insurance coverage.

Disclosure Requirements

Licensees and firms must disclose that they hold a licence, or that the professional corporation is authorized to practise public accounting.  Learn more about disclosure requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

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