Below, we have provided a detailed outline of the requirements to either qualify as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of Virginia or to acquire a Virginia CPA license. In addition to passing the CPA exam, which has a reputation for its difficulty, you must also meet the course credit, educational and work requirements.
Each state has its own set of CPA requirements, but here we will only be focusing on Virginia.
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 Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA). We recommended confirming all information with the board to ensure that you qualify, and that the charges have not been updated since this piece was published.
Virginia has no minimum age requirement to sit the CPA exam.
There are no residency requirements for Virginia.
Virginia does not require US citizenship to take the exam.
Exam Educational Requirements
Virginia candidates require a bachelor’s degree or higher with an accounting concentration. 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 120 credit hours must include:
- Accounting subjects (24 credit hours at the introductory/foundational level.) These must include courses in:
- Financial accounting, such as
- Intermediate Accounting,
- Financial Statement Analysis,
- Intermediate Accounting I and II
- Managerial/cost accounting,
- Financial accounting, such as
- Business subjects (24 semester hours)
- No more than 6 hours of upper-level accounting courses can be included
- Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Business Information Systems
- For quarter hours earned, divide the total number of quarter hours by 1.5 to calculate the accurate semester hours.
- The VBOA will accept any course taken as Pass/Fail as long as the student receives earned semester hours for the successful completion of the course. The completed course must be on an official transcript from an appropriately accredited university, college or community college.
- The VBOA recognizes an online institution if it is accredited through one of the recognized accrediting agencies.
The VBOA recognizes institutions accredited by one of the following accrediting agencies or their successors:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Any institution accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or its successor.
The VBOA will accept credits from institutions not listed above, if they have been evaluated and approved by the following accreditation evaluation service providers:
The VBOA will accept degree or coursework from international institutions that have been evaluated and approved by the accreditation evaluation service providers listed above.
The applicant can meet the work experience requirement either before or after taking the CPA exam. This entails completing at least 2,080 work hours, or equivalent to one year of full-time employment. Acceptable experience entails employment in academia, a firm, government, or industry in any capacity involving the substantial use of accounting, financial, tax, or other skills that are relevant, as determined by the Board, to provide services to or on behalf of an employer or to the public, as verified by an active, licensed CPA. Whether other skills are relevant shall be determined by the VBOA on a case-by-case basis. Self-employment does not meet the definition of experience.
The Virginia Board of Accountancy requires the candidate to take the AICPA self-study Professional Ethics: AICPA’s Comprehensive Course (For Licensure) and their corresponding exam. The applicant must achieve 90% or higher in order to apply for licensure.
How to Apply for the Virginia CPA Exam
- Register, create a user ID and password, and login to submit the initial application and pay the fee
- Request all institutions to send copies of official, sealed transcripts to the VBOA
- After being deemed eligible, candidates receive the first payment coupon within three to five business days via email from NASBA. Once the coupon has been paid for, the applicant will
- Submit your fingerprints to a ‘WebCheck’
- Submitting your application form
- Pay the fee
|Initial Application Fee||$120.00|
|Auditing & Attestation (AUD) Exam (NASBA)||$226.15|
|Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) Exam (NASBA)||$226.15|
|Regulation (REG) Exam (NASBA)||$226.15|
|Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) Exam (NASBA)||$226.15|
|Fee per section (4 x $20)||$80.00|
There is a $20 fee for every re-exam request submitted.
There is a $67.50 fee charged by NASBA for each payment coupon received if the candidate chose to provide a Virginia DMV control number instead of a Social Security number during the online application process.
The CPA license fee application is $75.
All fees are non-refundable, but the exams can be rescheduled.
- Prometric Testing Centers both in and out of state
- Certain International Prometric testing centers (In 2021, this included Japan or the Republic of Korea.) This should be confirmed with the board
How to Apply for a Virginia CPA License
When submitting their application for their initial license, the applicant must:
- Have the sealed, official transcripts proving 150 semester hours of education from their accredited institutions sent to the VBOA,
- 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
- If the applicant is only applying in the calendar year following their CPA exam, then they will be required to meet the following additional educational requirements:
- 40 hours of CE
- An annual VBOA-approved ethics course
Interstate License Reciprocity:
Virginia recognizes interstate license reciprocity provided that the license has been reviewed by the National Qualification Appraisal Service (NQAS) of NASBA and been found to be substantially equivalent to the UAA. Again, verbatim from the VBOA site:
The NQAS recognizes the following categories of substantially equivalent on the NASBA website.
For a state or jurisdiction that is listed as substantially equivalent without an asterisk:
- Create an online account to apply for licensure in Virginia.
- Submit a certificate of completion with exam score of 90% or better to the VBOA of the self-study course (8 credit hours) from the American Institute of CPAs, Professional Ethics: AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.
- Request a Verification of Licensure from a substantially equivalent state or jurisdiction.
For a state or jurisdiction that is listed as substantially equivalent with one asterisk:
The licensee may proceed for licensure in Virginia only if he or she holds an Active CPA license with that state or jurisdiction. Follow steps 1-3 above. If the individual does not hold an Active CPA license with that state or jurisdiction, substantial equivalence does not apply, and the individual must apply for an initial CPA license in Virginia.
For a state or jurisdiction that is listed as substantially equivalent with two asterisks:
Substantial equivalence does not apply, and the individual must apply for an initial CPA license in Virginia.
An out-of-state CPA license holder or holder of a foreign license of substantial equivalence whose principal pace of business is not in Virginia can obtain a Virginia permit from the VBOA. They can also obtain a permit if they do not practice public accounting.
International License Reciprocity
Mutual Recognition Agreements
Virginia recognizes licenses from institutions that are part of NASBA’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA.) These applicants will need to create an online account with the VBOA to apply for licensure and then pass the NASBA/AICPA International Qualifications Appraisal Board’s (IQAB) International Qualification Examination (IQEX) and request IQAB to forward the results directly to the VBOA. The IQEX is applied for and taken directly through NASBA.
They will also need to:
- Have their international credentials evaluated by on of the bodies listed above, and the results forwarded to the VBOA by the institution
- Take the AICPA Ethics course and receive at least 90% on their exam
- Complete the Experience Verification Form and mail it to the VBOA to verify their experience qualifications
- Verify the VBOA CE requirements for initial licensure in Virginia as outlined above. No CE is required for initial licensure if obtained in the same calendar-year in which the applicant passed the IQEX exam.
The institutions that form part of the MRA are:
- South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
- CPA Australia
- Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)
- CPA Canada (CPAC)
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
- Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
- Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Other foreign license holders
If there exists no mutual recognition agreement with the body through which the applicant received their licensure, their license will not be recognized by the VBOA. As such, they will need to apply for eligibility to take the CPA exam as outlined above under ‘foreign educations’. Then, once passed, they would need to apply for licensure.
NTS Validation Period
After your application is accepted and you have paid the exam fee, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS.) You will then have 12 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
Virginia CPA license holders are required to renew their licenses annually. Each license, whether Active or Inactive is valid from July 1st – June 30th. They may be renewed from March 1st onwards.
In order to renew your license, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- 120 Continued Professional Education (CPE) hours over a rolling 3-year period, including:
- Ethics (2 hours) annually
- 20 hours minimum CPE per years
- Applicants within their initial license period will require:
- If they apply for licensure by the end of the first calendar year will require a minimum of 40 hours for that year
- If they apply for licensure by the end of the second calendar year will require a minimum of 80 hours for that period
- If they apply for licensure by the end of the third calendar year will require a minimum of 120 hours for that period
- In all cases, the deadline for obtaining CPE for the previous year is January 31st
- Paying the $60.00 renewal fee. Check payments will require an additional $25.00 processing fee
- Submit the reapplication form
Inactive license holders
A license holder can register to have their license made inactive. They will then need to pay a renewal fee for their inactive license of $85.00 at the end of each three-year cycle.
In order to reactivate you license, you will need to:
- Complete the 120 CPE credit requirement mentioned above,
- 3 credit hours of Ethics,
- Payment the full license fee
Unrenewed licenses 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 an online Individual CPA License Reinstatement Application and paying the $350 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
- If accepted, they will need to pay a renewal fee as above
The VBOA recognizes that 50 minutes of CPE participation equals 1 hour of CPE credit. Verbatim as per the VBOA site, this can be acquired in a variety of ways including:
- Attending a seminar or educational conference
- Earning course credit at an accredited college or university:
- One semester-hour of credit for courses at an accredited college or university constitutes 15 hours of CPE and one quarter-hour of credit constitutes 10 hours of PCE
- Nano-learning programs
- Self-study courses where the licensee is able to demonstrate that learning objectives were met.
- Making a presentation – A licensee may earn a maximum of 30 hours of CPE for preparing and making presentations during each 3-year period
- Producing written materials – CPE can be earned from producing content that is relevant to providing services to the public or to or on behalf of an employer. The material must also be formally reviewed by an authoritative independent party and must be published in a book, magazine or similar publication.
No CPE is required id the application is submitted within the same calendar year as the CPA license is initially issued. However, if the applicant has not held a CPA license in any other state and applies for a Virginia license after the end of the calendar-year in which the applicant passed the CPA exam, CPE must be obtained prior to applying for a Virginia license.