The U.S. CPA designation is one of the world’s most recognized business credentials and the exam is in high demand internationally. Candidates from India have been among the largest groups of international candidates. Prior to October of 2014, citizens and permanent residents of India had to travel to the U.S. to sit for the exam. Last year, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric made it easier for citizens of India to earn the CPA designation.
Although Indian citizens are still unable to sit for the CPA exam in India, they can now travel to Prometric test centers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
The CPA exam administered internationally is the same exam taken by U.S. candidates and is offered only in English. Since licenses are granted by the individual states, international candidates must first decide in which state they want to become licensed and contact that state’s Board of Accountancy. Contact information for each of the State Boards of Accountancy can be found at the NASBA website.
The State Board will determine if your education and professional experience qualifications meet their requirements. Because each state’s requirements differ, it may be worth it to “shop around” to find a state who will accept your experience and education. You may be asked to send a copy of your university transcripts to the State Board in order for them to assess your educational qualifications. The State Board may advise you if additional course work is necessary before you’ll be permitted to sit for the exam. The NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES) is also available, for a fee, for candidates who wish to have their education credentials evaluated.
Once you’ve applied to take the CPA exam as an international candidate, there are some additional procedural steps you’ll be required to follow. In addition to paying regular domestic testing fees to the State Board of Accountancy, international candidates must pay non-refundable fees to the NASBA for each section to be taken internationally. A schedule of those fees can be found at the NASBA website.
The steps for scheduling an international exam are as follows:
- Apply for the exam through a Board participating in the international administration of the exam
- Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS)
- Apply to take the exam in an international location and pay the additional fees to the NASBA
- After the registration process is complete, you will need to wait at least 24 hours before you schedule your appointment at the testing center through Prometric.
You will need a valid Passport or National ID Card in order to apply to take the exam in an international location. Once you receive an NTS for an international testing center, it cannot be used to schedule an exam at any of the U.S. testing centers. You will have to notify NASBA in order to change to a U.S. NTS. Scores for international candidates are released at the same time as domestic scores. The AICPA also has a FAQ for International Testing.
After passing the exam and meeting the necessary experience requirements, the State Board will issue you a license. Once you are licensed in that state, you will be required to adhere to that state’s continuing education requirements. The requirements for continuing professional education vary from state to state, but are typically 80 hours over a two year period.