Firm Names/Use of CPA
- Use of CPA in Reports and Correspondence
- Legacy References in Firm Names
- Personal Versus Firm Use of CPA
- Use of CPA Logo
- Firm Name Rules as they Relate to Size of Firm
- Non-Personal Firm Names
- Corporate Names
- Name Request Consent Letters for the BC Registry
Members and registered firms shall carry on the practice of public accounting under the descriptive style of “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” unless it forms part of the firm name or the member or firm is exempted by CPABC1. This means that, even if the firm name includes “CPA”, the descriptive style “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” must still be shown. For example, a partnership called “ABC Accounting CPA” will sign off reports:
ABC Accounting CPA
Chartered Professional Accountants
Note that the use of “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” by a firm is not permitted unless each partner is a chartered professional accountant member in good standing or is a professional accounting corporation.
Regardless of the functions actually performed, the use of “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” as part of the firm name or as a descriptive style, in offering services to the public, shall be regarded as carrying on the practice of public accounting.
Firms are required to use “CPA” or “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)”, with no legacy reference, on all audit reports, review engagement reports, compilation engagement reports, and other material and correspondence that relate to the provision of public accounting services (such as engagement letters, invoices, management letters, and responses to requests for proposals).
1Exemptions to required use of the “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” descriptive style:
- Multi-jurisdictional firms (exemption does not apply to audit, review or compilation engagement reports and other material and correspondence that relates to the provision of public accounting services)
- Firms offering only Other Regulated Services
- Registered firms operating under a franchise agreement (other than CPA-only franchises practising public accounting)
Where firm names included a legacy body reference, the firms were given until December 31, 2015 to change to the corresponding CPA reference. (No formal firm name change was required if the legacy reference was not in the firm’s actual name but only in the descriptive style.)
Where the firm name was the name of a professional corporation or an LLP and included reference to a legacy designation, this required CPABC approval to the name change request, together with application to the Registrar of Companies for approval, followed by confirmation of the name change to CPABC. This had to be completed by December 31, 2015. (Note that no corporation name change is required if the corporation name, which includes a legacy reference, is not used as the firm name or in any other public-facing way.)
The deadline for removal of legacy references from websites was June 30, 2016.
The deadline for removal of any legacy reference in office signage was December 31, 2017.
While firms are required to operate using “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” with no legacy reference, individual members are required to “tag” their names if they have a legacy designation.
For example, Jane Doe, CPA, CA, sole practitioner, would generally use the firm name “Jane Doe, Chartered Professional Accountant”. Any reports issued by the firm, and other material and correspondence that related to public accounting services, would be issued by “Jane Doe, Chartered Professional Accountant”.
However, where Jane Doe is using her personal name, on letters, correspondence and emails, she would show “Jane Doe, CPA, CA”.
Similar to a sole practitioner, in a partnership situation, the registered public practice firm must use the firm name with the descriptive style “Chartered Professional Accountants”. However, each partner of the firm who is a legacy member must show, as an individual, the CPA designation tagged with the member’s legacy designation.
Individual members are not permitted to use or display the CPA logo.
Firms who wish to use the CPA logo must request authorization and comply with certain conditions.
The logo will be sent only to registered CPABC firms. See Firm Use of the CPA Logo for more information.
- Firm names rules are set out in the Code of Professional Conduct Rule 401 Practice Names.
- Firms shall not practice under a name or style that implies the practising unit is larger than it is.
- The use of “Chartered Professional Accountants” in plural is only permitted where there is more than one full time equivalent (FTE) CPA working in the firm. For example:
- A sole practitioner with one CPA staff member could use “Chartered Professional Accountants” in the firm’s descriptive style. Note: if the staff member resigned, the firm would be in breach of the rules.
- The use of “and Company” or similar wording is permitted only where it appropriately reflects the number of FTE people working on accounting engagements. For example:
- Sole practitioner Jane Doe could only use “Jane Doe and Associates” if she had two or more FTE staff working on accounting engagements.
- A firm with two partners, John Smith and Mary Lam, could only use “Smith, Lam and Associates” if they had two or more FTE staff working on accounting engagements.
- A firm can only use the names of predecessor partners (with permission from those predecessors) if the firm name is not misleading as to the number of partners. For example:
- If Ms. McGregor is no longer a partner, the firm can only “McGregor, Langley and Wong” (with McGregor’s permission) if there are three or more partners.
- These rules override any previously grandfathered naming provisions.
Non-personal firm names can be requested, with a description/reason for the proposed name. Such firm names cannot be misleading, self-laudatory or contravene professional good taste. See Code of Professional Conduct Rule 401 Practice Names.
Non-personal firm name requests are subject to a review and approval process. To apply, submit Form 1 – Application for Approval of Firm Name Change.
If a firm with a corporate structure is operating under a firm name that is not the name of the corporation, the BC Business Corporation Act, Section 27 requires that the company name is displayed. This requirement can be met by having an asterisk (*) after the firm name on the firm’s letterhead, invoices and website. Somewhere on the page, it must state “* denotes professional corporation” or “* denotes incorporated practice”.
New Corporation Permit – Firm Name
If a practitioner is intending to submit a professional accounting corporation permit application or has already submitted a permit application and wishes to operate their firm under the name of the corporation, a Form 1 is required in addition to the permit application.
- Form 1A – Application for Consent to Corporation Name (as the first step in the professional accounting corporation permit application)
- Form 1 – Application for Approval of Firm Name Change
Once the professional accounting corporation permit has been issued, CPABC will process the Form 1 to update the firm name.
Existing Corporation Permit – Corporate and Firm Name Change
If a practitioner operates a firm through a corporation and wishes to change both the name of the corporation and the name of the firm, the following two forms are required to be submitted:
- Form 1B – Application for Consent to Change Corporate Name
- Form 1 – Application for Approval of Firm Name Change
Once Form 1B has been approved, the corporation name can be changed with the Registrar of Companies. A copy of the Name Change Certificate must then be submitted to CPABC in order for the corporation name and firm name to be updated.
If a practitioner registers a firm with the BC Registry, the Registry requires a letter of consent from CPABC if the firm name contains “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)”.
Please send the Name Request Result PDF to email@example.com. The practitioner will be sent the consent letter directly. CPABC does not send the consent letter to the BC Registry.
Please note that the consent letters are issued only if the firm has already been registered with CPABC.
Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org