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The CPA Exam Goes International Without a Hitch

The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric yesterday announced the successful launch of the U.S, CPA Examination in international locations – the first time in history it has been administered outside of the United States and its territories.

On August 1, the first candidates took the exam in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout the remainder of the month, 1,165 candidates will sit for 2,065 examination sections. Future month-long testing windows will take place in November, February, May, and every third month thereafter.

The U.S. CPA exam is offered internationally as a service to foreign nationals in response to escalating international demand for U.S. CPA licensure. In 2010, more than 10,000 international candidates traveled to the U.S. to take the U.S. CPA exam, a 22 percent increase from 2009. Nearly one-third of international candidates came from Japan.

The international exam, offered in English, is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States. Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for U.S. CPA candidates, meaning candidates must meet the qualifications of the jurisdiction in which they apply.. Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by U.S. state boards of accountancy.

In the United States, state boards have the governmental legal authority to award the U.S. CPA license. Applications may be made through certain U.S. state boards of accountancy offering eligibility for international candidates. A list of participating state boards and information about fees is posted on the NASBA website at

Testing in the new international locations is open to citizens and long-term residents of the countries in which the exam is being administered. In the Middle East, citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may take the exam in one of the Middle East locations. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to test at any location.

International CPA Exam Applications Now Being Accepted By Participating State Boards

With just three months before international CPA exam testing is scheduled to debut, let’s hope the state boards can get to it and have everyone rolling in time.


In March 2011, in conjunction with the AICPA and Prometric, NASBA announced the opportunity for international administration of the Uniform CPA Examination to be offered in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The CPA Examination application process is basically the same for U.S. and international candidates. In order to qualify to take the CPA Ehe U.S., candidates will have to establish their eligibility through a State Board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration program. Click the following link for the list of participating State Boards.

Before applying to sit internationally, please read the Candidate Bulletin and the International Examination Informed Consent. Candidates should then visit the Jurisdiction Map in the CPA Exam section of the NASBA website for information about eligibility requirements and the examination application process for the jurisdiction in which they wish to apply. Prospective candidates must select the U.S. jurisdiction to which they will apply, contact the Board of Accountancy (or its designee) in that jurisdiction to obtain application materials, submit completed applications and required fees as instructed, and once deemed qualified, schedule the examination. After receiving the Notice to Schedule, you may then register to take the examination in an international location through the NASBA website.

Note: After the registration process is complete for each examination section, you will need to wait at least 24 hours before you schedule your appointment. Initially, the examination will be offered internationally during a one-month testing window per calendar year quarter.

Regardless of which Board of Accountancy has declared you eligible for the examination, in addition to paying any domestic testing fees, you must pay additional fees for each examination section you plan to take internationally. Those fees per examination section are:

AUD: $292.85
BEC: $314.90
FAR: $292.85
REG: $314.90

Certain jurisdictions have specific rules and requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, as well as qualifying for CPA licensure after passing the examination. Before applying in any jurisdiction to take the CPA Examination in an international location, be sure to read the jurisdiction’s Information for Applicants on the website. It may also help to visit the Board of Accountancy’s website of the jurisdiction where you wish to apply. Further details about international administration of the examination can also be found on the international testing FAQ sheet that is available on the AICPA Uniform CPA Examination website.

For candidate convenience, NASBA has recently extended call center hours and created an international number. The hours of operation and contact phone numbers are as follows:

• Call 1-800-CPA-EXAM Days and hours of operation: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., Eastern Time, and Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern Time (UTC -5).
• Call 1-855-CPA-GUAM or 671-300-7441 (international candidates). Days and hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9).

Well let’s see, let’s pretend we’re an international CPA exam applicant in Ohio testing for the first time. If we want to sit in Japan, we can look forward to spending $140 for the application and $500 for each section of the exam. Assuming we pass the first time through, that’s $2140. I guess it’s cheaper than flying to the U.S. to test with plane tickets and hotels and all that stress.

CPA Exam Debuts Internationally in August

For those of you interested in taking the CPA exam in wild locales such as Bahrain or Kuwait, wait no longer, the CPA exam is officially international beginning August of 2011.

Initially announced along with CBT-e, international testing appeared to be slated to begin in January but security issues and further testing necessitated the delay.

So far Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the only countries in which the exam will be administered. After a long two year analysis, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric determined those areas to meet their stringent safety and security guidelines.

We know what you’re thinking. Bahrain?! According to the three agencies, candidate volume demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States was a huge factor in deciding where to administrate the exam. Sure, Japan seems like a no-brainer but up until now, international candidates have been forced to obtain a visa to physically appear in the United States for their exams, often for marathon sessions of more than one test in a two or three day period.

Other factors in deciding which countries included:

• The ability to deliver the Exam without legal obstacles.
• Security threat to the Exam (both physical security at test center and intellectual property security of Exam content) assessed at levels equivalent to those presented domestically.
• Existence of established Prometric test centers.

Other countries were analyzed ahead of this announcement but I know of at least a handful that were determined unfit for test administration based solely on security issues in those countries. Being proprietary and more heavily guarded than Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices, protecting CPA exam content was likely one of the largest concerns involved in taking the exam international.

While candidate volume and interest in the exam is also high in countries like India and Korea, security concerns are equally as high (if not higher), therefore excluding these areas for the time being. My understanding is that the AICPA is open to expanding international testing in the future and just with CBT-e, will be monitoring the situation closely after launch, ready to adjust based on results. International candidates will still have to apply with the state board of their choice and are invited to use NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library to search for a jurisdiction in which to apply.