The Licensing section of the Board is responsible for processing initial and renewal applications for CPA certification and initial and renewal CPA firm registration applications. The Licensing section also administers and monitors the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) compliance program. Information on applying for a North Carolina CPA certificate is available on the License Application page.
Contacting the Licensing Staff
Buck Winslow, Manager
NC State Board of CPA Examiners
PO Box 12827
Raleigh, NC 27605-2827
Unauthorized Use of CPA Title
North Carolina’s accountancy law allows anyone to practice public accountancy by paying a privilege license fee to the NC Department of Revenue. However, anyone residing in this State not licensed by the NC State Board of CPA Examiners as a CPA or not granted the practice privilege by NCGS 93-10 is restricted to using the term “accountant” in connection with their name on all reports, letters of transmittal, or advice, and on all stationery and documents used in connection with their services as an accountant, and must refrain from the use in any manner of any other title or designation in such practice while in this State.
The exception to this restriction is when an individual lives in North Carolina and is licensed by another jurisdiction, but not North Carolina, provides a résumé to a prospective employer. That person may use “CPA” or “certified public accountant on their résumé so long as they include the jurisdiction that granted the CPA certificate/license and the status of the certificate/license if it is on any status other than active (inactive, retired, lapsed, etc.).
- It is unlawful for any person who has not received a certificate of qualification or not been granted a practice privilege under NCGS 93-10 admitting the person to practice as a certified public accountant to assume or use such a title, or to use any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols or other means of identification to indicate that the person using same has been admitted to practice as a certified public accountant [NCGS 93-3].
- It is unlawful for any firm, copartnership, or association to assume or use the title of certified public accountant, or to use any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols or other means of identification to indicate that the members of such firm, copartnership, or association have been admitted to practice as certified public accountants, unless each of the members of such firm, copartnership or association first shall have received a certificate of qualification from the State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners or been granted a practice privilege admitting each member of the firm, copartnership, or association to practice as a certified public accountant; provided, however, that the Board may exempt those persons who do not actually practice in or reside in the State of North Carolina from registering and receiving a certificate of qualification under this section [NCGS 93-4].
- It is unlawful for any corporation to assume or use the title of certified public accountant, or to use any words, letters, abbreviations, symbols or other means of identification to indicate that such corporation has received a certificate of qualification from the State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners admitting it to practice as a certified public accountant [NCGS 93-5].
A person licensed as a CPA in another jurisdiction who moves to North Carolina intending to use the CPA title (whether in public practice, industry, government, or education) must obtain a certificate of qualification from the Board before using the CPA title in any way in this State. Oral or written statements such as “I am a licensed CPA in another jurisdiction” when used in connection with the individual’s name on all reports, letters of transmittal, or advice, and on all stationery and documents used in connection with the individual’s services as an accountant do not exempt the individual from obtaining a certificate of qualification from the Board. Non-resident CPAs who wish to practice in North Carolina may do so only in accordance with NCGS 93-10.
Change of Address
Without a valid home and business address (including telephone number, fax number, and email address) on file for each certificate holder or CPA firm, the Board cannot disseminate vital information to its licensees. You may submit home and business address changes (including telephone number, fax number, and email address) online. Board staff cannot accept an oral change of address. NOTE: Address changes submitted to the NCACPA or other professional organizations have no effect on your address listed with the Board.
If a licensee’s legal name changes, the licensee must provide the Board with copies of the document (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.) that legally authorizes the name change. If a licensee’s legal name has changed and they want a CPA certificate issued in that name, they must provide the Board with copies of the document (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.) that legally authorizes the name change, return the certificate initially issued by the Board, and submit a $25 check payable to “NC State Board of CPA Examiners.” The average processing time for a new CPA certificate is about 120 days. If you have questions regarding this matter, please get in touch with Alice Grigsby.
A North Carolina CPA’s certificate status may fall into one of several categories, including
- Active – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person who possesses a North Carolina certificate of qualification and who has not otherwise been granted “Inactive” status;
- Can’t Use Title- a person who possesses a North Carolina certificate of qualification and has signed a Form of Practice affidavit stating that because the individual practices public accounting in a form not approved by the Board, they will not use the CPA title in any way.
- Forfeited – a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been returned by the Board under conditions imposed by 21 NCAC 08G .0406(b)(2), 08J .0101(c), or a Consent Order.
- Inactive – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes one who has requested inactive status and been approved by the Board and who does not use the title “certified public accountant” nor does he or she allow anyone to refer to him or her as a “certified public accountant,” and neither he nor she nor anyone else refers to him or her in any representation as described in 21 NCAC 08A .0308(b).
- Probation – a person who possesses a North Carolina certificate of qualification under conditions imposed by the Board.
- Revoked – a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been permanently removed or for a specific time under a discipline imposed by the Board.
- Surrendered – a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been surrendered for a period of time under a Consent Order with the Board.
- Suspended – a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been revoked for a specific period of time under conditions imposed by 21 NCAC 08J .0111(3) or under a discipline imposed by the Board.
- Voluntary Surrender – a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been voluntarily surrendered by a Consent Order with the Board.
An active CPA may apply to the Board for a change to inactive status by submitting an online request. An individual on inactive status is no longer considered a CPA and is not subject to the renewal fees or continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. Although an individual on inactive status is allowed to keep, but not display, the physical CPA certificate issued by the Board, they cannot use the title “certified public accountant” in any manner. An individual on inactive status may reinstate to active status by completing the application form, paying the current certificate application fee, submitting three certificates of good moral character and endorsements of eligibility, and furnishing the Board with documentation of the completion of the necessary hours of CPE, including the required course on the North Carolina accountancy statutes and rules.
The Board may issue a reciprocal CPA certificate to a properly licensed CPA from another jurisdiction who now resides in North Carolina or whose principal place of business is in North Carolina and who meets the statutory requirements for licensure. Please note that reciprocal certification is based on the individual’s licensure to practice public accountancy in another jurisdiction. If an individual applies for and receives a reciprocal certificate for North Carolina, they are not required to maintain their out-of-state license as part of North Carolina’s CPA licensing requirements. However, they may choose to remain active in another jurisdiction. A CPA from another jurisdiction who resides in North Carolina or whose principal place of business is in North Carolina who desires to use the CPA title in North Carolina must apply for a reciprocal certificate.
For more information on applying for a reciprocal NC CPA certificate, please review the information on the License Applicant page (including 21 NCAC 08H, Reciprocity) and then contact Alice Grigsby with any questions you may have regarding reciprocal CPA certificates.
Annual Certificate Renewal
All active North Carolina CPAs are required to renew their certificates annually before July 1. To renew a certificate, the licensee must submit a properly completed certificate renewal application form that shows the number of CPE hours completed in the previous calendar year and the annual renewal fee of $60.00. If a CPA fails to renew their certificate before July 1, the Board will send a Letter of Demand to the CPA at their last known mailing address. Failure to complete the renewal process within 30 days of the mailing date of the demand letter automatically results in forfeiture of the CPA certificate. Upon forfeiture of the certificate, the individual is no longer a CPA. The Board will send, by certified mail, a notice to the individual that requires them to return the actual certificate to the Board within fifteen (15) days. A person who has forfeited their certificate for failure to renew may apply to the Board for reinstatement. If you have questions regarding certificate renewal, please get in touch with Alice Grigsby or Buck Winslow.
Employee Fair Classification Act (EFCA)
North Carolina’s Employee Fair Classification Act (EFCA) addresses the practice of employers misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees. By classifying a worker as an independent contractor, an employer avoids paying state and federal payroll taxes, unemployment taxes and providing workers’ compensation insurance. In addition to establishing the Employee Classification Section in North Carolina’s Industrial Commission, EFCA ties employee misclassification to occupational licensing.
NC Gen Stat. 143-765 requires every North Carolina licensing board to include a public notice statement about EFCA on every application for licensure and each renewal of that license. The applicant must certify that they have read and understand the public notice statement. The applicant also must disclose if they have been investigated for employee misclassification and, if so, the result of the investigation(s). If an applicant for licensure or license renewal does not comply with the certification and disclosure requirements of NC Gen Stat. 143-765, the occupational licensing board must deny the licensure or license renewal of that applicant.
Information about EFCA is available from the NC Industrial Commission’s website.
NCGS 93-10, Practice Privileges, states:
(a) An individual whose principal place of business is outside this State is granted the privilege to perform or offer to perform services, whether in person or by mail, telephone, or electronic means, in this State as a certified public accountant without notice to the Board, the submission of any other documentation, or the payment of any fee if the individual meets all of the following conditions:
(1) Holds a valid and unrevoked certificate as a certified public accountant, or its equivalent, issued by another state, a territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia.
(2) Holds a valid and unrevoked license or permit to practice as a certified public accountant issued by another state, a territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia.
(3) Has passed the Uniform CPA Examination.
(4) Has not been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States, any state, a territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia and has never been convicted of a crime, an essential element of which is dishonesty, deceit, or fraud unless the jurisdiction in which the individual is licensed has determined the felony or other crime has no effect on the individual’s license.
(b) An individual who satisfies the requirements of subsection (a) of this section and exercises the privilege afforded under this section by performing or offering to perform services as a certified public accountant in this State simultaneously consents as a condition of the grant of this privilege to:
(1) Comply with the laws of this State, the provisions of this Chapter, and rules adopted by the Board.
(2) Have an administrative notice of hearing served on the licensing board in the individual’s principal state of business, notwithstanding the individual notice requirements of G.S. 150B‑38.
(3) Be subject to personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, and disciplinary authority of the Board.
A foreign accountant must meet all requirements for certification 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 the jurisdictions.
NC DOR Privilege License
Under NCGS 105-41, CPAs licensed by the Board are required to have an annual privilege license as issued by the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NC DOR). Please review the Opinion Letter issued by the Department of Revenue for an explanation of the privilege license. Additional information is available on the NC DOR website.
Members of the Military & Military Spouses
Although the requirements for licensure are the same for military and non-military applicants, NCGS 93B, 21 NCAC 08F .0105, and 21 NCAC 08J .0101(g) extend specific benefits to members of the military and their spouses. As a military member, you may be eligible for economic assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for expenses related to the Uniform CPA Exam and CPA licensure. The North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs may also have resources related to the Uniform CPA Exam and CPA licensure.