Foreign Credential Holders and CPA State Licensure Requirements

Foreign Credential

Certified Public Accountants or CPAs are becoming even more valuable to the increasingly globalized world. CPAs are not only becoming more sought after by companies all over the world, but foreign credential holders have easier access to obtain CPA certification within the United States. 

The Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) was developed by the Association of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to assist qualified foreign credential holders in applying for state licensure as a CPA. This unilateral pathway to certification is a uniform approach to regulating the accounting profession. The bill was approved in 1984 and finalized in 1997, but it continues to evolve as the accounting profession changes. The UAA offers all US jurisdictions a consistent approach to licensing CPAs. All US jurisdictions have adopted the UAA, but total acceptance and integration into each jurisdiction has been a slow process. 

Substantial Equivalency

The UAA ensures uniformity among jurisdictions, specifically between the three major requirement components of CPA licensure. This uniformity concept is called Substantial Equivalency, and the three major components of Substantial Equivalency are: fulfilling the 150-hour education requirement, passing the CPA Exam, and successfully completing a minimum of one year of experience under a licensed CPA. For more information on state requirements, visit:

Substantial Equivalency, a concept found within the UAA, allows foreign credential holders the ability to apply for CPA licensure in the United States. Foreign credential holders can be evaluated by the AICPA and NASBA through the International Qualifications Appraisal Board to determine if their licensing requirements are substantially equivalent to or higher than those required within the UAA. If the board finds that the licensing requirements of a foreign credential holder’s designation are equivalent to the requirements in the United States, the foreign credential holders would be eligible to apply for a CPA license in the United States. Foreign credential holders should contact the State Board of Accountancy in the jurisdiction they intend to practice to ensure the jurisdiction has adopted Substantial Equivalency of the UAA. 

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States that are Considered Substantially Equivalent

According to the National Qualification Appraisal Service, the following US jurisdictions have CPA licensure requirements that are equivalent to the UAA: 

AlabamaGeorgiaMarylandNew MexicoSouth Dakota
AlaskaGuamMassachusettsNew York Tennessee
ArizonaHawaiiMichiganNorth CarolinaTexas
ArkansasIdahoMinnesotaNorth DakotaUtah
CNMIIndianaMissouriOklahomaVirgin Islands
DelawareKentuckyNevadaPuerto RicoWest Virginia
District of ColumbiaLouisianaNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
FloridaMaineNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming

CPA Evaluation Process

There are a few steps to follow for the CPA Evaluation process for foreign credential candidates.

  1. Choose the US jurisdiction above that you plan to apply for US CPA licensure. 
  2. Pick a foreign credential agency to evaluate your documents
  3. Gather and submit documentation for evaluation. 
  4. Submit all required documents and pay any fees associated with submission. 
  5. Wait for the foregn credential agency to review your documents and submit them to your State Board of Accountancy. 
  6. Once documents have been submitted, the State Board of Accountancy will contact you if further information is needed or if you need to fulfill certain requirements. 

If you need more detailed information about how to obtain CPA licensure as a foreign credential holder in the US, contact NASBA for further information. 


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