Dual certification for Canadian CPAs: IQEX explained

Image of toronto for IQEX

Are you a Chartered Professional Accountant in Canada and considering employment prospects in the United States or even globally? Acquiring a dual license is your answer! Not only does it enhance your expertise, but it also grants access to a broader spectrum of job opportunities. To help you understand the process, we're explaining the IQEX as a part of the process.

Canadian CPA vs U.S. CPA

Becoming a dual-certified professional is within reach for Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs), all it takes is passing the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) to achieve the U.S. CPA designation.

Let us start off with a simple comparison between both credentials.

QualificationU.S. Certified Public Accountant licenseCanadian Chartered Professional Accountant license
DefinitionA license issued by the state after the candidate meets state requirements related to education, ethics and experience and pass the CPA ExamA Canada-approved public accounting credential for candidates who enroll in the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP), pass the Common Final Examination (CFE) and fulfill the necessary education and experience requirements
Regulatory authorityNational Association of State Boards of Accountancy, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and individual state boards of accountancyCPA Canada and the regional or province CPA bodies
Exam structure3 Core sections, 1 Discipline sections1 exam

While both the U.S. CPA license and the Canadian CPA designation hold significant value within their respective countries, a key distinction lies in the license to practice, which varies between jurisdictions and underscores the importance of adhering to local regulatory frameworks. This is where the IQEX steps in to enable Canadian CPAs to earn the U.S. CPA license faster.

What is the IQEX?

The IQEX is an exam created by the AICPA and administered by NASBA. It's designed for individuals who hold professional accounting qualifications from outside the United States to obtain the U.S. CPA without having to take all sections of the Uniform CPA Examination.

What Does the IQEX Mean for Canadian CPAs?

The IQEX offers a streamlined path to Canadian CPAs to obtain their U.S. CPA license. As a Canadian CPA, you get to bypass three of the four sections of the U.S.CPA Uniform Examination. Instead of having to take Audit and Attestation (AUD), Financial Analysis and Reporting (FAR), Taxation and Regulation (REG), and choosing from one of three Disciplines, the only exam you must take is the REG CPA Exam, which they rename to the IQEX exam.

REG is a 4-hour exam consisting of 72 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and seven task-based simulations covering topics across five specific content areas:

  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures
  • Business Law
  • Federal Taxation of Property Transactions
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals
  • Federal Taxation of Entities

How can holding both a Canadian and US CPA license elevate your career?

Becoming a dual-certified professional offers numerous benefits, including:

  1. Global Recognition and Versatility: Holding both certifications offers global recognition and versatility, enabling professionals to work effectively in diverse international environments. 
  2. Broader Knowledge Base: It enhances professionals' understanding of both US and Canadian accounting principles, providing a comprehensive knowledge base to address complex financial challenges. 
  3. Enriched Problem-Solving Skills: Successfully passing both examinations showcases your exceptional problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and unwavering commitment to continuous improvement. Employers highly prize professionals capable of dissecting complex financial issues and devising innovative solutions. 
  4. Career Advancement Opportunities: Being dual certified opens doors to diverse career pathways in multinational corporations, accounting firms, and financial institutions. Not only does it enhance prospects in the U.S. and internationally, but it also addresses the shortage of U.S. tax professionals in Canada, making it easier to cross borders and access lucrative opportunities in the North American market. 
  5. Increased Earning Potential: It often leads to increased earning potential, with employers valuing the specialized expertise and global perspective of dual-certified professionals, resulting in competitive compensation packages and consulting opportunities. 
  6. Networking Opportunities: It fosters connections with professionals worldwide. Networking with peers of similar qualifications can unlock numerous opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and partnership, accelerating your career progression.


Eligibility Criteria to sit for the IQEX Exam

The Canadian CPA holder is considered eligible to sit for the IQEX exam if he or she meets the eligibility criteria set forth in the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) which includes:

  1. Get a Letter of Good Standing from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and a Provincial or Territorial CPA Body. 
  2. Meet the education requirements depending on the credential holder's status (one of the following): 
    1. Legacy credential holders must hold a bachelor's degree and have completed the relevant legacy body's education program. 
    2. Post-unification CPA credential holders need a bachelor's degree and must have completed either CPA Canada's Professional Education Program (PEP) or a graduate program accredited by a Provincial CPA Body. 
    3. Complete at least one year of experience as detailed in the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) 
  3. Meet examination requirements which vary based on credential holder status (one of the following): 
    1. Legacy credential holders must have passed the full capstone final examination for their legacy credential. 
    2. Post-unification CPA credential holders must have passed the Common Final Examination (CFE) administered by CPAC. 
  4. Earn the right to perform audits (Audit Rights) from the Canadian CPA body. 
    1. Legacy credential holders must have the right to perform audits or if they met the education requirement for the right to perform audits through the legacy body's education program and passed the licensing examination, or if they have completed CPA Canada's Post Designation Public Accounting module and passed the associated examination. 
    2. Post-unification CPA credential holders must have the right to perform audits OR meet the current exam requirements for licensure by either completing the elective modules, PEP Tax and PEP Assurance or completing the equivalent of PEP Tax and PEP Assurance in a graduate program at a post-secondary institution accredited by a Provincial CPA Body and passed the final exam OR complete CPA Canada’s Post Designation Public Accounting module and passed the final exam for the module. 
  5. Complete experience conditions: Have completed at least one year of experience as detailed in the MRA. 
  6. Invest in Continuing Education: You must adhere to the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements of your Provincial or Territorial CPA Body.

IQEX Made Easy with Becker & Morgan International

Passing the IQEX offers Canadian CPAs a pathway to obtaining their U.S. CPA license, unlocking a wealth of opportunities for career advancement, professional development and global recognition. 

For the past 15 years, Morgan International and Becker have partnered to offer you a comprehensive learning experience to help you prepare for the IQEX in Canada. Sylvie Lavoie, Program Manager at Morgan confirms " IQEX has been a fundamental step for Canadian CPA holders in accessing global opportunities and exposure. We highly encourage candidates to attain the US CPA in one simple step, achieving the IQEX examination.”

With Morgan International's expertise and Becker’s learning system, you can confidently navigate the IQEX and position yourself for success. As Michelle Cho, a Morgan candidate attests: “Becker study materials along with the live lectures were phenomenal to getting ready for the exam.”

Guest post written by Manar Hamed, Marketing Coordinator of Morgan International. Prepare for the IQEX with Becker and Morgan to unlock doors to a rewarding career as a dual-certified CPA. 


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