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How Foreign-Trained Accountants Can Get Licensed in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Canada, with its robust economy and diverse job market, is an attractive destination for accountants from around the world. If you're a foreign-trained accountant considering a move to Canada, you'll need to understand the process of obtaining a license to practice in the country. This guide will walk you through the steps and provide reference links for further information.

1. Understand the Canadian Accounting Landscape

Before diving into the licensing process, it's essential to understand the Canadian accounting landscape. Canada has three primary accounting designations:

  • Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)

  • Certified General Accountant (CGA)

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

In recent years, these bodies have unified under the CPA banner, making CPA the primary accounting designation in Canada.

Reference: CPA Canada

2. Assessment of Foreign Credentials

Your first step is to have your foreign credentials assessed. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can provide information on having your credentials assessed and recognized.

3. Register with a Provincial CPA Body

Canada has ten provinces and three territories, each with its own CPA regulatory body. Depending on where you plan to live and work, you'll need to register with the respective provincial CPA body.

4. Fulfill the Education Requirements

If your assessment indicates that you need additional education to meet Canadian standards, you may need to enroll in CPA preparatory courses. These courses will equip you with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the Canadian accounting profession.

5. Complete the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP)

The CPA PEP is a graduate-level program that equips you with the skills and knowledge required to practice as a CPA in Canada. It consists of modules focusing on different areas of accounting and culminates in the Common Final Examination (CFE).

Reference: CPA PEP

6. Gain Relevant Work Experience

To become a CPA in Canada, you'll need to complete a specific duration of relevant work experience. This experience must be gained under the mentorship of a licensed Canadian CPA.

7. Pass the Common Final Examination (CFE)

The CFE is a three-day examination that tests your knowledge and skills in various areas of accounting. Passing the CFE is a crucial step in obtaining your CPA license in Canada.

8. Obtain Your CPA License

Once you've met the education, examination, and experience requirements, you can apply for your CPA license through your provincial CPA body.


Becoming a licensed accountant in Canada as a foreign-trained professional requires dedication and perseverance. However, with the right resources and guidance, you can navigate the process smoothly and establish a successful accounting career in Canada.

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