Public Accounting Licence Requirements

To become eligible for a public accounting licence upon completing your CPA certification program, there are a number of education, examination, and practical experience requirements that need to be fulfilled.

Upon achieving the CPA designation, CPA Ontario members who have met the requirements outlined below may apply for a licence to practise public accounting. An application for a public accounting licence will be considered based on the bylaws and regulations in place as of the date the application is received. Review our page on public accounting licensing to learn more.

Not currently eligible to obtain a licence to practise public accounting? Learn about the Post Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) Program.

Education and Examination Requirements

  • successfully complete the Taxation and Assurance elective modules
  • select the Assurance role and be able to demonstrate depth in Assurance and Finance Reporting in the Common Final Examination

Note: The Public Accountants Council for the Province of Ontario had previously prohibited the granting of a public accounting licence to those who had taken a CPA Preparatory Course. Starting January 1, 2018 this restriction has been lifted and applied prospectively. A member who has been admitted to membership, who has completed any of the CPA Preparatory Courses as part of the academic prerequisites before January 1, 2018, and has not at any point subsequently retaken the applicable academic prerequisites at an academic institution as described in Appendix C to Regulation 9-1, is not eligible for a Public Accounting Licence.

Practical Experience Requirement (PER)

To become eligible for a public accounting licence with CPA Ontario upon certification, students need to successfully complete a minimum of 30 months of experience in an Approved Training Office as defined in Regulation 9-2 or in an External Audit Pre-Approved Program under the CPA Ontario Practical Experience Requirements. Of this 30 month period, 24 months must be gained under the supervision of an Ontario Licensed Public Accountant. For more information, please refer to the Qualifying Experience Requirement in Regulation 17-1.

Employers must have Pre-Approved Programs in External Audit approved by CPA Ontario to qualify. Chargeable hours and experience gained through other Pre-Approved Programs, experience verification, or through self-employment do not qualify under any circumstances. Additionally, experience gained in the Experience Verification Route does not qualify.

If you have any questions about these requirements, please contact our team.

This is a table associated with the information above
Chargeable hours included within 30 month work termMinimum of 2,500 chargeable hours obtained under the supervision of an Ontario Licensed Public Accountant, consisting of:
  • At least 1,250 chargeable hours of assurance, of which:
    • a minimum of 625 hours must be obtained in the audit of historical financial information
    • 100 chargeable hours in review procedures and other assurance engagement
  • 100 chargeable hours in taxation services
Completion of all chargeable hour and competency requirements may not be more than five years before the External Audit Pre-Approved Program completion date.
Core requirementsMinimum of level 1 proficiency in at least 3 Financial Reporting sub-areas
Depth requirementsDepth in Audit and Assurance competency areas, with the development of competencies in all three Audit and Assurance competency sub-areas, including a minimum of two sub-areas at level 2 proficiency
Breadth requirementsThe remaining competency sub-areas are specified within each Pre-Approved Program
Diversity of experiencesVariety of audit and review clients and/or a variety of audit and review experiences
MentorshipMentors must be working in public accounting within the same Pre-approved Program
SupervisionA minimum of two years’ experience in the Practice of Public Accounting under the supervision of a Member who holds a valid and current Public Accounting Licence
SecondmentsPractical Experience will count towards the chargeable hour requirement for External Audit Pre-Approved Program if the secondment is within a registered firm with a recognized External Audit Pre-Approval Program. Otherwise, it will not be recognized toward the chargeable hour requirements for public accounting. CPA students in Pre-approved Programs are allowed to complete up to 12 months on secondment; however students who wish to be eligible to apply for a public accounting licence upon certification are limited to 6 months on secondment with the remaining 24 months in an External Audit Pre-Approved Program.