- Determine If You Need a Practice Licence
- Licensing Requirements
- Competency Declaration for Audit Licensees
- Process of Applying for a New Public Practice Licence
- Request to Amend a Category of Public Practice Licence
- Cost of a Practice Licence
- Professional Liability Insurance Requirements
- Appointment of Assisting Accountant
- Cancellation of a Public Practice Licence
Chartered Professional Accountants perform a variety of professional services, some of which may require a public practice licence. Please note that CPABC may consider a firm or office to be engaged in the practice of public accounting in BC depending on the type of services offered and work performed. If you are unsure whether your firm is engaged in public practice, please contact one of our Professional Standards Advisors.
If you are a partner, shareholder, or proprietor of a firm engaged in public practice in BC (including a CPA practising as a sole practitioner), Bylaw 700 (2) requires you to have a licence in your respective category from CPABC. If you are a member who is an employee who has overall engagement responsibility where your activities are included in the definition of public practice, and as such, are subject to practice review, you must have a licence in your respective category from CPABC.
Note: Members offering to the public any public practice services will be required to be licenced in public practice, irrespective of remuneration.
Public Practice is defined in Bylaw 100 as providing or offering to provide one or more of the following services to the public:
- performing an audit, review, or other assurance engagement governed by standards of professional practice published by CPA Canada or corresponding standards established in a jurisdiction outside Canada, or issuing an auditor’s report, a review engagement report, or another assurance report in accordance with such standards;
- issuing any other certification, declaration, opinion or report with respect to the application of financial reporting and accounting standards published by CPA Canada or other Canadian standards published by CPA Canada, or corresponding standards established in a jurisdiction outside Canada;
- performing a compilation engagement;
Other Regulated Services:
- providing an accounting service involving summarization, analysis, advice, counsel, or interpretation, other than an accounting service which is part of but incidental to the provider's primary occupation which is not accounting;
- providing a forensic accounting, financial investigation, or financial litigation support service;
- providing advice, counsel or interpretation with respect to taxation matters;
- preparing a tax return or other statutory information filing; and
- any other services described in the regulations.
The following categories of public practice licences are established as per Bylaw 703(1):
- Audit Licence
- Review Licence
- Compilation Licence
- Other Regulated Services Licence
The illustration sets out how the definitions of “public practice,” “public accounting,” and “other regulated services” fit together, how these definitions are associated with the different categories of licensing, and which services can be offered or performed under each category.
Individual members, already in practice, will be licensed in a category, based on their current practice area.
New practitioners will apply for a licence in a category determined by their experience and education and on their intended practice area.
Practitioners will need to complete an annual practice licence renewal form. To maintain a certain category of licence, a practitioner will be required to have been active in that practice area for the past five years, with consideration of relevant professional development which may have been taken.
Individuals intending to obtain either an Audit or Review licence must earn their required assurance hours in a Pre-Approved Training Program.
Individuals wishing to obtain a Compilation licence may earn their required experience in either a Pre- Approved Program or through an Experience Verification Route.
CPA candidates seeking public accounting registration for the three public accounting streams (Audit, Review, and Compilation) must follow specifically identified pathways within the overall CPA certification model. All requirements should be met within the proposed 30-month period of practical experience.
Please note that CPABC may consider a firm or office to be engaged in the practice of public accounting in BC depending on the type of services offered and work performed. If you are unsure whether your firm is engaged in public practice, please contact:
CPA Paths to Public Accounting
Licensing eligibility is based on a member’s Education, Evaluation (i.e. Examination) and Experience.
CPA Professional Education Program (PEP) candidates intending to apply for a public accounting licence after certification should follow specific pathways within the certification model that will meet the licensing requirements. See CPA Paths to Public Accounting.
CPA Post-Designation Bridging
Members who did not fulfill all the requirements as part of their certification as a CPA and subsequently want to pursue a public accounting licence must follow a customized bridging program. This could include completion of the Post-Designation Public Accounting (PDPA) module and examination and additional practical experience requirements. See CPA Post-Designation Bridging.
For a member of another provincial body to provide or offer to provide public practice services in BC, CPABC extra-provincial licensing and registration requirements must be met. See Extra-Provincial Licensing.
Beginning in 2019, practitioners seeking or renewing an Audit License will be required to complete an annual self-assessment and declaration that they have undertaken sufficient relevant continuing professional development (CPD) to develop and maintain professional competence for their role. This new requirement is the result of revisions to International Education Standard 8 (Revised) and CPABC’s adoption of the standard in accordance with our commitment to meeting international standards.
The objective of IES 8 (Revised) is to protect the public, contribute to audit quality, enhance the work of Engagement Partners, and promote the credibility of the audit profession. IES 8 (Revised) requires “professional accountants performing the role of an Engagement Partner to develop and maintain professional competence that is demonstrated by the achievement of learning outcomes including, but not limited to,” those as set out in the table below.
Process of Applying for a Public Practice Licence
Applying for a public practice licence is a four-part process:
- Prepare an application package, which includes the following:
- Completed Form 3 Application for Public Practice Licence
- Completed Form 2 for members who intend to open their own practice
- Completed Form 2A for members who intend to open their own practice
- Completed Assisting Accountant Form for members who intend to be sole practitioners
- Brief working history résumé
- For legacy CGA members, please include a copy of your CGA transcript
- A detailed list of all professional development courses taken in the last 3 years
- A list of services to you plan on offering
- An application fee:
- $262.50 ($250 plus GST) for all licences except Other Regulated Services – Non Reviewable, or
- $131.25 ($125 plus GST) for Other Regulated Services – Non Reviewable licence
To pay the application fee, please sign into the Online Services and select Public Practice. Under Public Practice, please select Application fee. Once you have made the payment, you will obtain a receipt which you can include with your application.
- Once your application has been received and determined to be complete, it will be evaluated and the Director, Public Practice Licensing will contact you. Depending on the category of licence requested, there may be pre-requisites to be completed prior to obtaining the licence for that category.
- Once pre-requisites, if any, are completed, then you will be ready to purchase the professional liability insurance.
a) proof of professional liability insurance (the cover sheet/declaration sheet of your insurance policy and notification endorsement or direct confirmation of your insurance to CPABC from your insurer) is provided to us, and
b) payment of the public practice fee for your category of licence is paid,
you will receive a written confirmation of your practice licence.
If a member wishes to request to amend the category of public practice licence, please complete Form 3B, Request to Amend Category of Public Practice Licence.
Sign and submit the completed form to email@example.com
Costs associated with having a public practice licence:
- Application fee of $250 (plus GST) for all licences except Other Regulated Services – Non Reviewable;
- Application fee of $125 (plus GST) for Other Regulated Services– Non Reviewable licence;
- Annual public practice fee - see Public Practice Fees
- Annual member levy (dependent on the number of professionals in the practice) see Public Practice Fees; and
- Annual professional liability insurance premiums. For detailed information on the cost of professional liability insurance for your firm, contact your insurance agent.
All firms that are engaged in public practice are required to have professional liability insurance.
Bylaw Regulation 1301/1 stipulates that all registered firms must carry the following minimum levels of professional liability insurance:
- $1,000,000 per claim if there is one member with a proprietary interest in the firm;
- $1,500,000 per claim if there are two or three members with a proprietary interest in the firm;
- $2,000,000 per claim if there are four or more members with a proprietary interest in the firm.
Bylaw Regulation 1301/1(4) stipulates that each professional liability insurance contract shall be endorsed with the requirements that the insurance company shall notify CPABC in writing forthwith of:
- any cancellation or non-renewal of such policy; or
- any insurance coverage which is below the minimum coverage required above.
Bylaw Regulation 1301/1(5) stipulates that Members holding a public practice licence must ensure that prior acts and omissions are covered by adequate professional liability insurance either through riders to an ongoing insurance policy or a separate discovery policy, for a minimum of six years after ceasing to be in public practice.
Insurance premiums vary depending on many factors, including the number of CPAs in the practice, total billings, level of risk, and level of insurance you desire. Before your practice licence application can be finalized and before you start engaging in public practice activities, the final confirmation of your insurance coverage with a copy of the notification endorsement must be submitted to CPABC. The final confirmation can be either:
- A copy of the cover sheet/declaration sheet of your bound insurance coverage and a copy of the required endorsement sheet; or
- Direct confirmation from your insurer (you must contact your insurer and authorize them to release this information to CPABC).
Contact information for The Chartered Professional Accountants' Professional Liability Insurance Program, Administered by CPA Professional Liability Plan Inc. is:
CPA Professional Liability Plan Inc. (formerly AICA Services Inc.)
277 Wellington Street West
For inquiries, telephone 416.204.3398 or 1.800.267.4734 or visit www.cpaplan.ca
Under CPABC Bylaw Regulation 704/4 a sole practitioner is required to either:
- appoint an Assisting Accountant to be responsible for returning client records in the event of the practitioner’s death or incapacity. The appointed Assisting Accountant must be another member in good standing holding a public practice licence; or
- authorize CPABC to appoint a member in good standing holding a public practice licence as an Assisting Accountant in the event of the practitioner’s death or incapacity.
If a member ceases public practice as defined by Section 100 of the Bylaws, and would like to cancel their practice licence issued under Part 7 of the Bylaws of the Organization of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), they must complete Form 3C Request for Cancellation of Public Practice Licence.
If you have questions about cancelling a practice licence, please contact Kate Talmage, Public Practice Coordinator.