Below, we have provided a detailed outline of the requirements to either qualify as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of North Carolina or to acquire a North Carolina CPA license. Each state has its own set of requirements, but here we will solely focus on The Tar Heel State.
In addition to passing the CPA exam, which is known for its difficulty, you must also meet the course credit, educational and work requirements.
In order to make this process easier for you to navigate, we have listed all of the relevant information below, as well as the contact information for the North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountants. We recommend confirming all information with the board to ensure that you qualify, and that the charges have not been updated since this piece was published.
North Carolina has a minimum age requirement of 18 to sit the CPA exam.
There are no residency requirements for North Carolina.
North Carolina requires either US citizenship or proof of being a legal resident alien to take the Uniform CPA exam.
Exam Educational Requirements
North Carolina candidates require a bachelor’s degree or higher with a concentration in accounting to sit the CPA exam. This must be accredited by a board-recognized institution. In order to sit the exam, they must have acquired at least 120 credit hours that are accredited by the Virginia Board of Accountancy. However, they will still need to meet the 150-credit hour requirement to apply for the CPA license itself.
The 150 credit hours must include:
- Accounting subjects (30 semester hours at the undergraduate level.) Of these, no more than 6 hours can be in accounting principles, and no more than 6 hours can be in business law, OR
- Accounting subjects (20 semester hours) of graduate accounting courses, OR
- A combination of graduate and undergraduate courses. This will be calculated as one semester (or quarter) hour of graduate study in accounting is considered the equivalent of one and one-half semester (or quarter) hours of undergraduate study in accounting
- Other requirements that MUST be met are 24 semester hours from at least 8 of these courses:
- Computer Technology
- Humanities or Social Science
- International Environment
- Anyone who holds a Master’s or more advanced degree in accounting, tax law, economics, finance, business administration, or a law degree from an accredited college or university does not have to meet the secondary 25 semester hour course requirements
The North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners will only accept educational credentials from students whose transcripts have been evaluated by NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES.) However, even then this only applies to certain countries and jurisdictions, so it best to confirm with the Board before spending money to have the NIES evaluate your credentials. Otherwise, the student will need to meet the educational requirements separately as outlined above.
The applicant can meet the work experience requirement either before or after taking the CPA exam. This entails completing at least 52 weeks of full-time employment. The candidate is employed full-time when the candidate is expected by the employer to work for the employer at least 30 hours each week. Any other work is working part-time. Full-time-equivalent weeks are determined by the number of actual part-time hours the candidate has worked which is then divided by 30. This excludes hours paid for sick leave, vacation leave, attending continuing education courses, or other time not spent directly performing accounting services. For each calendar week during which the candidate worked actual part-time hours of 30 hours or more, the candidate receives one full-time-equivalent week. The actual part-time hours worked in the remaining calendar weeks are added together and divided by 30. The resulting number is the additional number of full-time-equivalent weeks to which the candidate is entitled. Further details can be found here.
The North Carolina State Board requires candidates to take an open book exam in North Carolina Accountancy Statutes and Rules within one year prior to applying for PCA licensure. Alternatively, they can complete an eight-hour CE course o this subject. If can be counted towards their annual CE requirements as well.
Exam Application Steps
- Register, create a user ID and password, and login to submit the initial application and pay the fee
- Request the Registrars of all educational institutions that you attended send copies of your official transcripts directly to the North Carolina State Board of CPAs
- Provide statements of good moral character from three non-family members
- Submit your fingerprint for a criminal background check
- If you were denied licensure in any state, you must provide an explanation for this
- Two identical 2 x 2” photographs of the front view of your full face must be submitted
- Provide a transfer of credit request if a section of the exam was passed in another state or jurisdiction
- Submit application or reapplication forms to the Board
|Initial Application Fee||$230.00|
|Auditing & Attestation (AUD) Exam||$226.15|
|Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) Exam||$226.15|
|Regulation (REG) Exam||$226.15|
|Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) Exam||$226.15|
The re-application fee is $75.00.
All fees are non-refundable, but the exams can be rescheduled.
Any Prometric Testing Center
Initial License Requirements
When submitting their application for their initial license, the applicant must:
- Have the sealed, official transcripts proving 150 semester hours of education sent directly from the Registrars of their accredited educational institutions sent to the Board,
- Have a bachelor’s degree or higher with an accounting concentration,
- Pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA exam within an 18-month timespan,
- Submit an Experience Verification Form
Interstate License Reciprocity
North Caroline recognizes interstate license reciprocity provided that the license is considered to be substantially equivalent to that of the North Carolina license. To apply, they must provide proof of:
- Having a valid CPA license that is in good standing with the issuing board and which is considered to be substantially equivalent to that of North Carolina’s
- If an individual receives a reciprocal licensure for North Carolina, they are not required to maintain their out-of-state license. However, they may choose to remain active in another jurisdiction
- Submit the interstate exchange form
- Submit the application form
- Pay the $100.00 application fee
An out-of-state CPA license holder whose primary place of business is not in the state of North Carolina can apply for a permit to practice in North Carolina on condition that:
- The license is considered to be substantially equivalent to that of North Carolina’s
- Their license is valid and in good standing with the issuing Board
- They have passed all parts of the CPA Exam
International License Reciprocity
A foreign accountant must meet all requirements for licensure in effect at the time of application. North Carolina and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan have established mutual findings of substantial equivalence, which allows for licensure between these jurisdictions. A Chartered Accountant applying for certification (licensure) as a North Carolina CPA, must contact Alice Grigsby to request an Application for Original CPA Licensure via International Qualifications Exam (IQEX). They will then be permitted to take NASBA/IQAB’s IQEX exam in lieu of the full CPA exam.
The Board may also accept applications from individuals applying for examination or licensure who completed the education requirement outside the US. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis, and the individual should contact the Board’s licensing office directly for more information.
NTS Validation Period
After your application is accepted by the NC Board and you have paid the exam fee, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS.) You will then have 6 months in which to schedule the exam, or the NTS will expire. You will then need to pay the fee again.
License Renewal Requirements
Active license holders
North Carolina CPA license holders are required to renew their licenses annually by June 30th. They are also required to fulfill a 2,000-minute continued professional education (CPE) requirement every year, but this must be reported by December 31st. Those who fail to meet this deadline will still be able to report them until June 30th, but they may be subject to a warning from the Board.
Other CPE specifications:
- Ethics (50 minutes) annually
- CPE credit may be granted for teaching a learning activity for CPAs or authoring a publication as long as the preparation to teach or write increases the CPA’s professional competency and is in one of the NASBA-approved subject areas. Up to 1,000 CPE minutes may be earned this way
- Authorship may account for up to 500 minutes of CPE
- CPE credit is not awarded for reading or researching accounting journals, periodicals, or reference guides and manuals; tests designed to assess the comprehension of reading material; or ethics activities for other professions
- CPE credit for self-study is awarded based on the number of minutes needed to complete the course as determined by the sponsor
Inactive license holders
A license holder can register to have their North Carolina CPA license made inactive. They will then be unable to practice as a CPA in North Carolina but will also not need to meet the CPE requirements. They will then need to pay a renewal fee for their inactive license annually.
In order to reactivate you license, you will need to:
- Complete the 120 CPE credit requirement mentioned above
- 3 credit hours of Ethics
- Pay the reinstatement fee
- Provide proof of completing the NC Accountancy Law course
- Submit the application
- Pay the full license fee
Unrenewed licenses or licenses whose licensees fail to meet the CPE requirements by June 30th will automatically be changed to ‘Expired’ status. They will then need to undergo the process of reinstating the license to ‘Active’ status. This entails:
- Logging in and submitting the online reinstatement application form and paying the $100.00 fee
- Disclosing why the license holder failed to renew their license
- Disclose all states in which they currently or have formerly held a CPA license and provide documentation from the relevant boards stating good standing with each board
- Provide proof of fulfilling 2,000 hours of CPE within the 12 months prior to application
- Provide proof of completing the NC Accountancy Law course
- If accepted, they will need to pay a renewal fee as above
North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners
- Mailing Address: NC State Board of CPA Examiners
PO Box 12827
Raleigh, NC 27605-2827
- Phone: (919) 733-4224
- Fax: (919) 733-4209
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org<email@example.com
- Website: https://nccpaboard.gov/
- Hours: Mon-Fri: 08:00-17:00