What is the difference between the US and the Canadian CPA?


Certified Public Accountant USA | CANADA
Certified Public Accountant USA | CANADA

Individuals who pass the Uniform CPA Exam and meet the state-specific educational and experience requirements are granted a USA CPA by a state board. In the United States, it is the only license certification for accounting professionals. The CPA designation in Canada is a globally recognized certification that allows professionals to practice organization accounting in the country. CPA Canada (CPAC), along with the provisional or regional accounting bodies, is the national organization that regulates the accounting profession in Canada. To become a member of CPA Canada, one must be a member of one of Canada's provisional CPA bodies. The Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is the three legacy accounting professions in Canada (CMA).

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the United States and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in Canada are both accounting certifications. The fundamental distinction between a USA CPA and a Canada CPA is that the former is a USA-approved credential, whilst the latter is a Canada-approved credential.


There are various major differences to consider between USA CPA’s and Canadian CPA’s:


Regulatory authority:

CPAs in the United States are governed by NASBA, AICPA, and state boards of accountancy, whereas CPAs in Canada are governed by CPA Canada and provincial/regional CPA bodies.


Eligibility Criteria:

In order to work as a CPA in the United States, you must have a bachelor's degree (150 credit hours) Work Experience: 1-3 Years The requirements for passing the Uniform CPA Exam may differ depending on the jurisdiction. To become a CPA in Canada, one must enroll in the CPA PEP program. 30 months of relevant practical experience after passing the CFE


Licensing requirements:

To be licensed in the USA, one must meet all four E's. All other requirements, with the exception of the universal CPA exam, vary among state boards. The following are:


  • Exam - Obtain a passing score on the Uniform CPA Exam (score at least 75 out of 99)

  • Education - a minimum of 150 credit hours of education with a focus on accounting are required.

  • Experience: 1-3 years of work experience is required.

  • Ethics Exams: (only if required by state board)


The CPA license in the United States must be renewed on a regular basis by meeting the state board's Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements.

The license criteria in Canada is; Canadian CPAs are eligible to take the IQEX exam if they match the qualifying criteria outlined in the Mutual Recognition Agreement signed on November 1, 2017. (MRA).


  • Have a letter from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada stating that you are in good standing (CPAC)

  • Pass the CPAC's Common Final Examination if you have applicable education (CFE)

  • Obtain the necessary audit rights

  • Have the required job experience (at least one year)

  • Follow the standards for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


Time to clear examinations:

In the United States, all test components must be passed within 18 months. In Canada, however, it takes two years to complete the CPA PEP and qualify for the CFE.

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