FAQs - Washington State CPAs Working in BC

British Columbia has a tri-party Mutual Recognition Agreement that includes Washington State. Accordingly:

You must submit an application for membership and within 2 years of admission successfully complete the CPA Reciprocity Professional Development (CPARPD) course.  If you want to obtain a licence to practice, you would successfully complete the CPA Reciprocity Exam instead of the CPARPD within 2 years of admission to membership.

Section 47 of BC’s Chartered Professional Accountants Act states that no person other than a chartered professional accountant member may provide professional accounting services. For purposes of the Act professional accounting services are assurance services (audits and reviews);  any form of certification, declaration or opinion with respect to information related to financial statements or any specified auditing procedures that are completed or are purported to be completed in accordance with the CPA Canada standards of professional practice.

Washington State CPAs may be able to provide other services in BC that do not fall within the definition of the Act’s professional accounting services  so long as they are not using their US CPA designation nor signing the report as a US CPA.

It is not possible to use the US CPA designation in BC or to call oneself a professional accountant unless one is a member of CPABC. Also, if a CPABC member wishes to provide any professional services, including audit services, prior to providing those services it is necessary for that member to be licensed by CPABC. If you want to use the CPA designation or sign an audit report as a CPA, it is necessary for your firm to be registered with CPABC and you to be licensed with CPABC. To facilitate this, it is necessary that at least one of the principals of the firm is a member of CPABC.

It is possible to prepare the corporate tax returns in BC without being a member of CPABC provided the individual preparing the tax return is not using their designation as part of the service (e.g., signing the return using the designation, marketing the service under the CPA designation,). As noted above, if you wish to use the designation or to call yourself a professional accountant in BC, it would be necessary to be a member of CPABC and be licensed by CPABC as able to provide such a service.
As noted above, the BC legislation restricts who may provide professional accounting services as defined under the Act but there are no restrictions that prevent non-members from providing other types of services to the public.  As such, you may provide some services without having to be a member of CPABC, except you will not be able to use your US CPA designation when marketing or providing the service. If you wish to use your US CPA designation, you would have to become member of CPABC and be licensed by CPABC to provide the service. Once you are a member of CPABC, you then will be able to use your US CPA designation in BC provided it follows the BC designation and references the jurisdiction of the certified public accountant designation, e.g. Jane Smith CPA, CA,  CPA (Washington).
a. Can I use my US CPA credential while working temporarily in the province? 

Yes, provided you do not sign any reports or regulatory filings for use by third parties applicable to British Columbia clients of a CPA firm licensed in British Columbia.

b. Can I tell the client that I am a US CPA?


c. Can I sign the attest report? 


d. Can I promote myself as being a professional accountant?


a. Can I give out a business card?

Yes, provided:

  • you are not offering or performing services included within the definition of public practice. In BC public practice comprises public accounting services and other regulated services;
  • you are serving as a subject matter expert for a CPA firm licensed in British Columbia;
  • you are presenting at or attending a conference or training course in British Columbia;
  • you have no authority to and do not sign any reports or regulatory filings for use by third parties applicable to British Columbia clients of a CPA firm licensed in British Columbia.

b. Can I speak at a conference and be identified as a US CPA?

Yes, under the conditions cited 6. a. above.

c. Can I put my US credential on a resumé/CV for a prospective job in BC?

Yes, under the conditions cited in 6. a. above.

a.    Will I be able to use my US CPA credential in the same fashion once I start working in British Columbia? 

If you first become a member in CPABC, you will be able to use your US CPA in combination with the BC designation which would be  CPA, CA, CPA (Washington).

If you do not become a member in BC, you will not be able to use the Washington State designation.

b. If I also obtain the Canadian CPA while in British Columbia, can I list both of the credentials in my email and in my bio?

Yes, under the conditions cited in 7 a. above.
a. What restrictions are there on how I can use my two credentials in Washington State and in British Columbia? 

Provided your Canadian CPA credential is with CPABC, none, subject to the conditions cited in 7 a. above. If the Canadian credential is with another Canadian province, it is necessary to become a member of CPABC to use either the US or Canadian credential in BC.

b. Can I hold out both to offer services across the border?

Yes under the conditions cited in 7 a. above and provided you have obtained any additional registration required for the type of services you offer.

c. If not, can I selectively use one credential in one state and the second credential in the other province? 

Yes, you can choose to use only the local designation; e.g, you can use only your US CPA in Washington and your Canadian CPA, CA in British Columbia.
No – If you do not also hold a BC membership issued by CPABC, you may not use your US CPA credential in offering such services to the public in British Columbia. Nor may you reference yourself as being a professional accountant in BC.
If you want to become a member of CPABC, you would need to comply with the requirements of the MRA, which currently includes a three-hour exam that focuses on ethics and regulation in BC. The exam is offered once a year in the fall. There is a related course which is not mandatory but is available to assist candidates prepare for the exam.

If you also wish to provide public practice services in BC, an application would have to be made for licensing purposes. This application will review your education and practical experience to ensure you qualify to provide such services. If you are currently providing public practice services in Washington State, this experience would qualify as BC experience. 

On an ongoing basis, all CPABC members are required to meet or exceed their minimum continuing education requirements and, each year, report that they have done so. The CPABC requirements are for a minimum 120 hours of continuing education over every three-year rolling period, a minimum 60 hours of which must be verifiable, and an annual minimum requirement of 20 hours. Also, there is a requirement of a minimum 4 hours business ethical training during each three year rolling period. Qualifying education need not be obtained in BC and any prescribed professional development required to remain a Washington State CPA likely would also qualify for CPABC continuing professional development.

Contact CPABC directly.

Contact the Washington State Board of Accountancy directly.

Contact CPABC, who will then coordinate with the regulatory authority in Washington.

This can be looked at from either the perspective of membership or the perspective of licensing that is required for members who provide public practice services.

In terms of the licence to provide public practice services, this is subject to an annual application process. If a member wishes to no longer practice public accounting, the member would submit a licence cancellation form. The member could continue as a member of CPABC but would no longer be able to provide public practice services.

If that member subsequently wished to reacquire their public practice licence, this too would be subject to a re-application process. The requirements for re-application would be a reflection of the time the member had been away from public accounting and the type of experience and relevant professional development the member would have received during this absence.

Membership is also subject to an annual renewal process. You may resign from membership by simply completing a resignation form. Following this resignation, you would no longer need to complete the requirements for membership, but if you subsequently wished to reapply, you would have to meet any re-application requirements.