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International CPA Exam: CPA Exam International Options, Locations, and Steps

If you are a U.S. citizen or a citizen of another country who lives outside the U.S. and would like to earn the American Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, you are an international CPA candidate. As an international candidate, you can definitely qualify to sit for the CPA Exam, but can you take the CPA Exam outside of the U.S? Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes, you can. I’ll tell you how you can take the international CPA Exam. I’ll also tell you whereby listing each CPA Exam international location.

CPA Exam International Administration: 3 Options

Candidates living outside of the U.S. have 3 different ways to become a U.S. CPA:

  • Take the International Qualification Examination (IQEX)
  • Sit for the international CPA Exam in your home or residence country
  • Pass the domestic CPA Exam in the U.S.

I’ll explain these options in detail and reveal the CPA Exam locations for each so you can determine which is best for you.

1. IQEX

Normally, CPA candidates must pass the CPA Exam. The CPA Exam has 4 sections and 16 hours of total testing time.

However, thanks to mutual reciprocal agreements (MRAs) between the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and certain non-U.S. professional associations, certified or chartered accountants living outside the U.S. and possessing a membership with these associations can more easily obtain the U.S. CPA by taking the International Qualification Examination (IQEX). IQEX is one exam that you have 4 hours to take.

You must be a member of the following associations to be eligible to take the IQEX instead of the CPA Exam:

  • CPA Australia
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
  • CPA Canada
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland
  • Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Publicos
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Qualified candidates can take the IQEX at CPA testing centres around the world. Prometric operates all of the CPA Exam centres.

If you take the IQEX, you still need to apply to an American CPA jurisdiction to receive the CPA license. Doing so may involve meeting the CPA education requirements, the CPA experience requirements, and/or the CPA ethics exam requirement as well. If you believe you may qualify for this CPA Exam alternative, learn more about the IQEX so you can get started.

2. International CPA Exam

Not long ago, you could only sit for the CPA Exam in the United States. Then, in 2011, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Prometric launched a number of new international CPA Exam testing centres around the world. Currently, international candidates can sit for the CPA Exam in these countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Brazil
  • England
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Scotland
  • The U
  • AE

CPA Exam Centers in the Middle East

Citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE:

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • The U.S.
  • Yemen

CPA Testing Centers in Brazil

Additionally, citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in Brazil:

Argentina Cayman Islands El Salvador Jamaica St. Lucia
Antigua/Barbuda Chile French Guiana Mexico St. Vincent/Grenadines
Bahamas Colombia Guatemala Nicaragua Suriname
Barbados Costa Rica Grenada Panama Trinidad & Tobago
Belize Domenica Guyana Paraguay Uruguay
Bolivia Dominican Republic Haiti Peru United States
Brazil Ecuador Honduras St. Kitts/Nevis Venezuela

CPA Exam Testing Centers in Japan

Only citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of Japan may sit for the exam in Japan.

CPA Exam Centres in Europe

On October 1, 2018, the AICPA and Prometric expanded the administration of the CPA Exam once again, this time to testing sites in Europe. Specifically, the countries with testing centers in some of their cities include:

  • England: Bristol, London, Manchester
  • Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich
  • Republic of Ireland: Cork, Dublin
  • Scotland: Edinburgh

Therefore, citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents of the following countries may sit for the exam in England, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland:

Austria Cyprus Finland Hungary Lithuania Norway Russian Federation Sweden

Belgium

Czech Republic France Ireland Luxembourg Poland Slovakia

Switzerland

Bulgaria Denmark Germany Italy Malta Portugal Slovenia

United Kingdom

Croatia Estonia Greece Latvia Netherlands Romania Spain

United States

The AICPA and Prometric allow for the international administration of the CPA Exam because many international candidates desire U.S. CPA licensure. Furthermore, international CPA Exam testing centres provide convenience to professional accountants abroad, especially those employed by public accounting firms operating in these regions.

The AICPA used the following criteria to select these countries:

  1. The volume of demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States
  2. The ability to deliver the exam without legal obstacles
  3. The potential security threat to the CPA Exam (in terms of physical security and intellectual property)
  4. The existence of established Prometric testing centres

Similarities Between the Domestic CPA Exam and the International CPA Exam

  • Exam Language (English)
  • Exam Sites (Also operated by Prometric)
  • Notice to Schedule (required to test, no extensions granted)
  • Refund Policy (no refunds granted for any reason)
  • Exam Content
  • Exam Format
    • 4 sections (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG)
    • 16 hours of total testing time (4 hours for each exam)
    • 3 different question types (multiple-choice, task-based simulations, and written communications)
  • Testing Windows
    • January 1 – March 10
    • April 1 – June 10
    • July 1 – September 10
    • October 1 – December 10
  • Education and Experience Licensure Requirements
    • 1-2 years of professional accounting experience
    • 150 credit hours of higher education

Differences Between the Domestic CPA Exam and the International CPA Exam

  • Time Limit for Licensure (*IMPORTANT*):
    • International candidates: must obtain the CPA license within 3 years of passing the CPA Exam
    • Domestic candidates: receive no limit on the time in which they can obtain the CPA license in most states
  • State Board Availability:
    • All but 10 of the 55 state boards don’t participate in the international CPA Exam administration program.
      Alabama Idaho New Jersey
      CNMI Kentucky North Carolina
      Delaware Mississippi Virgin Islands
  • Exam Fees:
    • The exam fees for the international CPA Exam are more expensive than those for the domestic CPA Exam.
    • International CPA Exam fee: $356.55 extra for each exam section.
    • Domestic CPA Exam fee: $208.40 for each exam section.

If you are eligible to take the international CPA Exam, you must visit NASBA’s website and click “Apply Now”. Then, you should learn more about the international CPA Exam applicationprocess.

3. U.S. CPA Exam

If you don’t qualify for the IQEX or the international CPA Exam, you must take the U.S. CPA Exam by traveling to the United States. Before 2011, this was the only way for international candidates to take the CPA Exam. Therefore, it’s the tried and true method that many candidates still use today.

If you completed your higher education in the U.S., your application process is the same as that of domestic CPA candidates. And therefore, you can apply to any of the state boards.

On the other hand, candidates who graduated and worked outside the U.S. must take a few extra steps to meet the CPA education and experience requirements. You can learn more about the process of applying for the CPA Exam for international students to discover exactly what you’ll have to do.

Alternatively, Guam is one of the 55 jurisdictions. So, if you live close to Guam, you can pay an extra $200 to take the exam there. I took the exam in Guam and spent a couple of days vacationing there afterwards.

CPA Review for International CPA Candidates

No matter where you take the CPA Exam, whether your CPA testing center is near or far, you’ll have a better chance of passing the exam if you use CPA review. All of the best CPA review courses available offer self-study online courses perfect for CPA international candidates. Furthermore, I have many great CPA review discounts that you can use to save big on these courses.

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