‘CPA’ and ‘CA’ are terms that are often used interchangeably online, which can cause some confusion to aspiring accountants. We have therefore provided a brief overview as to the course differences between CPA vs CA.

What is a CPA?

A CPA is a ‘Certified Public Accountant.’ They are someone who has taken their education further than a basic accountancy degree and acquired on of the most prestigious accountancy licensures, the CPA license. This license is US-based and is provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.)

It legally authorizes them to perform tasks that other accountants are not authorized in, such as representing businesses in IRS audits, auditing and approving financial documents of businesses, compiling financial statements and preparing and authorizing tax returns, as well as many other tasks. In order to qualify, they first needed to meet the 150 College Credit requirement, the work experience requirement and then pass the four-part Uniform CPA exam.

What is a CA?

A CA is a ‘Chartered Accountant.’ This is another internationally recognized license; one that is even recognized as being equal or even of higher status to that of the US CPA license in the licensing countries. Each country has their own CA licensing board or institution that legally permits their license holders to perform as a CPA license holder can in the US.

Countries offering CA licensure include:

  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • European Union (EU)
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • United Kingdom  

Is a CPA a CA?

Yes, in the sense of what their licensure legally authorizes them to do within the country or state of issuance. However, each country still has their own academic and work requirements to sit the exam and to attain the license.

Many, but not all institutions that issue CA licenses are recognized under NASBA/AICPA’s International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB’s) Mutual Recognition Agreement. This allow CAs and CPAs to easily convert their licenses within the cooperating state or country.

It should be noted that not all US states recognize the MRA agreements or will still require their own educational or work requirements to be met if they perceive the foreign license to not fulfill their state board requirements. Foreign license holders may still be able to have their licenses and transcripts evaluated by NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES).

The professional bodies with which IQAB currently has MRA agreements