The AICPA/NASBA Uniform CPA exam is challenging on its own, but this process is complicated further by each state also having its own set of requirements to fulfill so as to sit the exam. To make this process easier, we have compiled a detailed overview of Colorado CPA requirements, following closely the Colorado State Board of Accountancy. This should prove helpful if you are planning to either sit for the CPA exam, transfer your existing credits or CPA license to Colorado or to maintain your existing Colorado CPA license.

As these requirements are subject to change, we recommended confirming all information with the Colorado State Board of Accountancy to make sure you qualify, and to verify that the charges have not been updated since this piece was published.

Age

Colorado has no minimum age requirement to sit the CPA exam.

Residency

There are no residency requirements in Colorado.

Citizenship

Colorado has no citizenship requirements to sit the CPA exam. However, you will need to submit either a social security number or taxation number to apply.

Education

Colorado has an educational requirement of having a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university credit that is recognized by the Board, as well as a 120-semester hour requirement to sit the CPA exam. All courses must be non-duplicative. However, they will need to achieve 150 hours to apply for licensure.

The Licensing hour requirements are as follows:

  • Accounting (33 hours) at the undergraduate or graduate level.
    • 6 semesters hours must focus on Auditing. Of these, 3 semester hours must include a 3-semester hour, or more, concentrating on U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS). 
    • The remaining 27 semester hours must cover:
      • Accounting Ethics
      • Accounting Information Systems
      • Accounting Research and Analysis
      • Accounting Theory
      • Auditing and Attestation Services
      • Financial Accounting and Reporting of Business Organizations
      • Financial Accounting and Reporting for Government and Not-for-Profit Entities
      • Financial Statement Analysis
      • Fraud Examination
      • Internal Controls and Risk Assessment
      • Managerial or Cost Accounting
      • Taxation
      • Tax Research and Analysis
      • Other areas as approved by the Board
  • Business courses (27 hours) at the undergraduate or graduate level that addresses subject areas such as:
    • Behavior of Organizations, Groups, and Persons
    • Business Communications
    • Business Ethics
    • Business Law
    • Computer Information Systems
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Legal and Social Environment of Business
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Quantitative Applications in Business
    • Statistics
    • Other areas as approved by the Board
  • Of the 27 semester hours for Business, no more than 9 semester hours can be in any single subject area. But semester hours in excess of the 9-hour maximum may count toward the total 150 semester hour requirement outside of the business semester hour requirement.

Note that these differ slightly from the requirements for sitting the exam. These can be found in the Board statutes.

Colorado Board-recognized regional accrediting agencies:

Non-recognized educations

US licenses or degrees or holders of foreign educations that are not part of these associations must have their transcripts evaluated by either NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES,) or an association that is part of either the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES,) the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) or similar organization that is approved by the Colorado Board. A copy of the results must then be sent directly to the Colorado State Board of Accountancy’s office by the evaluations service. International applicants will also need to submit a letter from the school confirming the audit course has a concentration in US GAAS.

Work Experience

Colorado CPA applicants are required to acquire at least 1,800 hours of work experience either before or after passing the CPA exam before you can apply for licensure. This must be completed within a minimum of one year to a maximum of three years prior to applying for licensure. They can be acquired through multiple jobs and must involve any combination of technical and behavioral standards that are deemed appropriate by the Board. This includes work in attestation, engagement, accounting and review services, taxation and management consulting services, among others.

Ethics

The Colorado State Board of Accountancy requires all CPA license applicants to take the AICPA self-study Professional Ethics: AICPA’s Comprehensive Course (For Licensure) and their corresponding exam. Applicants will need to achieve a score of at lease 90% within two years prior to applying for CPE licensure.

Background check

To apply to take the Colorado CPA exam, applicants will need to:

  • Submit a color copy of a government issued ID (Driver’s License, passport, etc.)
  • Submit the application form to the CPA Exam Service’s (CPAES)
  • Pay the application fee
  • Request the Registrars of all the issuing institutions to submit official copies of their transcripts to the CPAES. This can either be done through the postal service in sealed envelopes or online directly from the university of college
  • Include official copies of transcript translations and official copies of the transcript themselves where necessary
  • Include official credit evaluations where applicable, sent directly from the evaluation service

Fees

Initial application Fee$160.00
Auditing & Attestation (AUD)$224.99
Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)$224.99
Regulation (REG)$224.99
Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)$224.99
Registration Fees
4 sections – $85.00
3 sections – $85.00
2 sections – $85.00
1 section – $85.00
$340.00
Total$1,399.96

There is a $50.00 re-application fee.

Fees are non-refundable. Most exams can be rescheduled. 

Locations

Applying for CPA Licensure

To apply for CPA licensure in Colorado, you will need to:

  • Submit your application to the State Board
  • Request all transcripts from all issuing institutions be sent directly by the Registrar to the State Board proving all 150 semester hours and education requirements were met
  • Submit your social security number or other acceptable form of identification
  • Submissions of work experience verification form
  • Submission of copies of name change documentation where relevant
  • Pay the application fee of $150.00

Practice Privilege for Out-of-State License Holders

A CPA who holds an out-of-state license recognized as substantially equivalent to that of Colorado’s can practice in Colorado without a CPA license on condition that:

  • The license is current and valid in the issuing state or jurisdiction
  • Their principal place of business is in the state of licensure
  • They hold a license based on passing the Uniform CPA exam or an exam that is deemed as substantially equivalent by either NASBA or the AICPA
  • The license holder cannot reside in Colorado

Reciprocal Application

Interstate Reciprocity

Colorado recognizes interstate reciprocity of CPA licenses from jurisdictions and states that are considered to be substantially equivalent to that of Colorado’s. In order to apply for a certificate of reciprocity, you will need to meet the following requirements as well:

  • Submit verification that you hold a valid and current CPA license from the issuing state or jurisdiction
  • Meet the work requirements and education requirements of Colorado
  • They have fulfilled all CE requirements in the issuing state
  • The applicant must complete two hours of CR&R within 6 months following the date the Board grants the initial certificate or within the 6 months immediately preceding the application date
  • They must have passed the AICPA Ethics exam
  • They hold a license based on passing the Uniform CPA exam or an exam that is deemed as substantially equivalent by either NASBA or the AICPA
  • Passing the exam without having received licensure from that state disqualifies the applicant from reciprocity

International License Reciprocity:

Colorado recognizes Licenses from institutions that are part of IQAB/NASBA’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA.) These applicants will need to pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) and request IQAB to forward the results directly to the Colorado State Board of Accountancy.

The institutions that form part of the MRA are:

Additionally, you will also need to meet the work experience requirement and complete the AICPA ethics course and exam and pass with a score of at least 90%.

Non-recognized foreign license holders

Public Accountants who possess a foreign license from a non-recognized issuing institution will need to follow the same procedure as those of foreign education holders.

NTS Validation Period

After paying the registration fee for the Colorado CPA exam, you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS.) You will then have 6 months from the date of issuance in which to write your CPA exam, or the NTS will expire, and you will need to reapply for the exam. Therefore, before trying to save money by applying for multiple exams at once, make sure that you will be able to study for them and schedule them in beforehand.

License Renewal Requirements

Colorado CPA license holders are required to renew their licenses every odd year by November 30th, although the license expiration date is on December 31st. All new applicants who are issued a license within 120 days of the upcoming renewal expiration date will be issued a license with the next expiration date.

They are also required to fulfill Continued Professional Education (CPE) hours requirements of 10 hours of CPE for every full quarter. There is also an Ethics requirement of 4 hours of CPE per year, of which 2 must be in Colorado Rules and Regulations (CR&R.) These must be submitted with the CPE reporting form.

CPE parameters

  • 4 CPE hours of Ethics, 2 of which must be in Colorado Rules and Regulation (CR&R)
  • If you are within your first year of licensure, the CR&R. No more than 20 percent of CPE can be in Personal Development
  • No more than 50 percent of CPE can be in any combination of teaching or publishing an article or book
  • Study Sessions do not count as CPE
  • Each correspondence program that is at least 50 minutes long is worth one CPE credit hour. One-half CPE (equal to 25 minutes) is permitted once the first hour has been earned per program
  • A license holder must complete ten hours of CPE for every full quarter during which the holder’s Certificate is in Active status
  • Study sessions cannot be counted for CPE
  • It is best to view the AICPA/NASBA Statement on CPE Standards to confirm that a course or lecture provider can count towards CPE hours

Non-resident license holders

Active Colorado license holders must meet the board’s license renewing requirements even if they do not reside in Colorado.

Inactive license holders

Colorado CPA license holders can apply to change their license status to ‘inactive.’ This will allow them to maintain their inactive license by paying an annual ‘inactive’ renewal fee without the need to meet the CPE requirements.

They will not be permitted to practice as a CPA until their license is made ‘active’ again. In order to switch their license status back, they will need to apply for reinstatement and meet the license renewal requirements stipulated below:

  • Pay the application fee
  • Attach any applicable name-change documentation
  • Submit a detailed summary of your practice history since your license was deactivated
  • Submit any relevant documentation pertaining to your criminal history
  • If you retired your license for 2 or less years, you would need to fulfill the same CPE requirements as listed above for license renewals
  • If it has been more than 2 years but less than 6 years since your license was made inactive, you will need to:
    • Have completed 10 CPE hours per annual quarter with a minimum of 80 hours to a maximum of 160 hours
    • Take the 8-hour AICPA Ethics exam and obtain a passing score of at least 90%
    • Take a separate 2-hour Colorado Rules & Regulations (CR&R) course
    • The CE limitations are the same as outlined above
  • If it has been more than 6 years, you will need to:
    • Submit proof of up to 160 hours of CPE as mentioned above
    • Have proof of completing one year of work experience or proof of having graduate within the last 2 years
    • Complete the same conditions as an initial application for initial certification, including passing the Uniform CPA exam, meeting the education and experience requirements and passing the AICPA Ethics exam

Expired license holders

Any CPA licensee who fails to report their CPE hours by December 31st will automatically have their license switched to ‘Expired’ status. They will then need to apply for reinstatement. They will need to apply for reinstatement according to the same guidelines mentioned for license renewal, with the additional fee and possibility of an additional disciplinary action.

State Board

Colorado State Board of Accountancy