How Can International Candidates & Students Take the CPA Exam?

Guide for International Accountants to Qualify for the CPA Exam

can-international-accountants-take-the-cpa-examYes, international candidates can qualify to take the CPA exam if they meet all of the personal and education eligibility requirements.

For international accountants looking to broaden their professional horizons, taking the CPA exam can be a significant step forward. The journey to achieving this credential might seem complex, but with the right guidance and preparation, it is entirely possible.

Let’s explore the ways International Accountants and CPA candidates can qualify to sit for the CPA exam in the US.

Understanding the CPA Exam Requirements For International Candidates

The CPA exam is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and it is required for anyone who wishes to become a licensed CPA in the United States. The exam comprises four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

International candidates need to meet certain educational requirements before they can sit for the exam. Generally, this includes having a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, with a specific number of credit hours in accounting and business courses. However, these requirements can vary significantly from one state board of accountancy to another.

6 Steps to Take the CPA Exam as an International Accounting Student

#1 Evaluating Your Educational Credentials

The first step for international accountants is to have their educational credentials evaluated. This process is essential to determine if your foreign education is equivalent to the U.S. educational standards.

Organizations like NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES) can help in this regard, providing a detailed report of your educational equivalence.

#2 Choosing the Right State Board and Jurisdiction

The CPA exam is administered under the jurisdiction of individual state boards of accountancy. Each state has its own set of rules and requirements for CPA candidates. Therefore, it’s crucial for international candidates to research and choose a state board that aligns with their educational background and career aspirations.

Some state boards are more lenient than others in terms of their requirements, making them more popular choices for international candidates. It’s also important to consider if the state board allows international candidates to take the exam outside of the U.S., as this could significantly impact your plans.

#3 Apply for the CPA Exam

Once you have chosen a state board and had your educational credentials evaluated, the next step is to apply for the CPA exam.

This involves submitting an application to the state board, along with any required documentation and fees. You will also need to submit your evaluation report from NIES or another evaluation service.

After your application has been reviewed and approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS), which allows you to schedule your exam sections with Prometric, the company responsible for administering the CPA exam worldwide.

#4 Study and Prepare for the Exam

The CPA exam is known for its rigor and the extensive preparation required to pass.

International candidates should invest in quality study materials and consider enrolling in a CPA review course. Dedication and a well-structured study plan are crucial to success.

#5 Pass the CPA Exam

International candidates have the option to take the CPA exam in various international locations, thanks to Prometric’s extensive network of testing centers. The exam is computer-based, and candidates have the flexibility to schedule their exam sections in any order they choose.

It’s important to arrive at the testing center well in advance of your scheduled exam time, with all necessary identification and documentation. Be prepared for strict security measures, and ensure you are familiar with the Prometric testing environment and procedures.

#6 After the Exam

Once you have completed all four sections of the CPA exam, you will receive your scores from the AICPA.

If you have passed all sections with a score of 75 or higher, congratulations – you are one step closer to becoming a CPA! The next steps involve meeting any remaining requirements set by your state board, such as gaining relevant work experience.


Taking the CPA exam as an international accountant is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. With thorough preparation, understanding of the requirements, and a strategic approach, you can navigate the process successfully.

Achieving the CPA credential can open up a world of opportunities in the accounting profession, enhancing your credibility and career prospects on a global scale.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take the CPA exam in my home country?

Yes, the CPA exam is offered in various international locations through Prometric testing centers. You can check Prometric’s website to find a testing center near you.

Do I need to have my educational credentials evaluated every time I apply for the CPA exam?

No, once you have had your educational credentials evaluated and deemed equivalent to U.S. standards, you do not need to undergo the evaluation process again for subsequent exam applications.

How long does it take to prepare for the CPA exam as an international candidate?

Preparation time can vary significantly depending on your prior knowledge, study habits, and the amount of time you can dedicate to exam prep. On average, candidates might spend 300-400 hours studying for the entire exam.

What happens if I fail a section of the CPA exam?

If you fail a section of the CPA exam, you can retake that section in the next testing window. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake a failed section, but it’s important to review your performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your study plan accordingly before retaking the exam.