NC CPAs

NC CPAs, July 31 is the final deadline for renewing your certificate or requesting inactive status. To renew, you must have a portal/dashboard account.

Create your account now

The Board’s Licensing section is responsible for processing original, reciprocal, reclassification, and renewal CPA license applications, providing CPA license/Exam score verifications, and administering the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) compliance program. The Licensing section also registers and renews CPA firm applications and monitors the peer review compliance program. Information on applying for an original or reciprocal North Carolina CPA license is available on the CPA License Applicant page.

The North Carolina General Assembly, through the North Carolina Accountancy Act, authorized the Board to regulate the use of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) title. In general, individuals using the CPA title in the State of North Carolina must have a CPA license issued by this Board unless the individual has a principal place of business in another jurisdiction and holds a CPA license in that jurisdiction.

All active North Carolina CPAs are required to renew their license annually before July 1. As part of the renewal, licensees must indicate the number of CPE minutes completed in the previous calendar year and pay the CPA license renewal fee of $60.00. Effective with the 2024-2025 CPA license renewal, CPAs renew their license through the Board’s portal. A CPA who does not have a portal account will not be able to renew their license. Step-by-step instructions for setting up a portal account are available here. If a CPA fails to renew their license or request a change to CPA-retired or inactive status before July 1, the Board will send a Letter of Demand to the CPA at the mailing address on file with the Board.

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 their physical CPA 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.

The Board may classify a person’s North Carolina CPA certificate as

  • 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.
  • Forfeited – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person who failed to timely renew their North Carolina certificate of qualification by the annual renewal deadline. This status also covers individuals unable to meet the annual CPE requirements or other criteria at the time of renewal. Individuals on forfeited status may not use the CPA title until the Board reissues that license.
  • CPA-retired – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person who has requested to use the title CPA-retired and confirms they will not perform any of the services listed in 21 NCAC 08A .0307(a)(2).  Prohibited services include, but are not limited to, tax preparation, bookkeeping, auditing, or consulting work.  There is a limited exception that allows them to prepare tax returns for themselves and their immediate family members without compensation, and they may prepare tax returns through public service programs, without compensation, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. They may not hold themselves out as a certified public accountant; however, they may use the title “CPA-retired.” They further consent to the continued regulatory authority of the Board.
  • 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 do they allow anyone to refer to them as a “certified public accountant,” and neither they nor anyone else refers to them in any representation as described in 21 NCAC 08A .0308(b).
  • Probation – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person who possesses a North Carolina certificate of qualification under conditions imposed by the Board.
  • Revoked – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been revoked permanently or for a specific period under a discipline imposed by the Board. Individuals on revoked status may not use the CPA title.
  • Surrendered – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been surrendered under a Consent Order with the Board. Individuals on surrendered status may not use the CPA title.
  • Suspended – when used to refer to the status of a person, describes a person whose North Carolina certificate of qualification has been revoked for a specific period of time. Individuals on suspended status may not use the CPA title unless the Board specifically mandates that the suspension is stayed under certain conditions.

Inactive Status

An active CPA may request a change to inactive status by submitting a 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 can keep, but not display, their physical CPA certificate, they cannot use the CPA title.

CPA-retired 

A CPA on active status or inactive status may request a change to CPA-retired status by applying to the Board, acknowledging the limitations on the scope of services they can provide, and agreeing to continued oversight by the Board. Specifically, individuals on CPA-retired status may not engage in any accounting work such as taxes, bookkeeping, auditing, or consulting work. There is a limited exception for family members and public service programs such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. They must renew their certificates annually; however, they are exempt from the Board’s annual CPE requirements.

Reinstatement

An individual on inactive status may be reinstated to active status by completing the application form, paying the current certificate application fee, submitting three (3) certificates of moral character and endorsements of eligibility, and furnishing the Board with documentation of the completion of the necessary minutes of CPE, including the required course on the North Carolina accountancy statutes and rules.

An individual on CPA-retired status may be reinstated to active status by furnishing the Board with evidence of satisfactory completion of 40 hours (2,000 minutes) of CPE courses during the 12-month period immediately preceding the application for change of status. Eight of the required hours (400 minutes) shall be credits derived from a course or examination in North Carolina accountancy statutes and rules (including the Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct as set forth in 21 NCAC 08N contained therein) set forth in 21 NCAC 08F .0504 and submitting three certificates of good moral character completed by CPAs on active status.

Reissuance

An individual on forfeited, revoked, or suspended status is no longer licensed as a CPA and is not subject to the renewal fees or continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. They must return their physical CPA certificate to the Board within 15 days of the status change and may be subject to additional penalties for failure if they do not. An individual on forfeited, revoked, or suspended status may apply for reissuance [21 NCAC 08J .0106] of their CPA certificate.

A North Carolina CPA applying for reciprocal licensure in another US jurisdiction must submit a Request to Provide Exam/License Information to Another Board of Accountancy to the Board. When the Board receives a request to provide information to another Board of Accountancy, the Board staff will send a license and/or Exam score verification document to that Board of Accountancy by email or US postal service. A North Carolina CPA who needs to provide licensure documentation to an entity other than a Board of Accountancy should print their individual record from the Find a CPA/CPA Firm section of the website.

NC CPA License Fees
Individual NC CPA License Renewal$60.00
Application for Inactive Status from Active Status$0.00
Application to Reinstate NC CPA License to Active Status from Inactive Status$100.00
Application for CPA-retired Status from Active Status$0.00
Application for CPA-retired Status from Inactive Status$60.00
Application to Reinstate NC CPA License to Active Status
from CPA-retired Status
$100.00
Application for Reissuance of Forfeited or Revoked NC CPA License$100.00 (plus applicable penalties)

Members of the military and their spouses may be eligible for economic assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for expenses related to CPA license renewal. The North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs may have resources related to maintaining NC CPA licensure.

Effective July 1, 2024, NCGS 105-41, which required every individual in this State who practiced a profession or engaged in a business to obtain from the Secretary a statewide license for the privilege of practicing a profession or engaging in the business, is repealed pursuant to Session Law 2023-134. Attorneys-at-law and other professionals are no longer required to apply to the Secretary for a privilege license, or renew an existing privilege license, each year beginning July 1, 2024. The last license period will be for the fiscal year, July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. [Source: Privilege Tax Bulletin_rev_11_2023.pdf]

As a requirement for continued licensure, all active status CPAs must complete a specific number of CPE minutes, including at least 50 minutes of regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct [21 NCAC 08G .0401(e)] by December 31 of each year. There is no CPE requirement for an individual whose CPA license is inactive.

Active status CPAs report their CPE by completing the annual license renewal [21 NCAC 08G .0406]; the Board may audit CPE information submitted by a licensee who applies to renew their CPA license. If a CPA fails to complete the CPE requirement before the end of the previous calendar year but completes it by June 30, the Board may issue a Letter of Warning to the CPA for the first such failure within a rolling five-calendar year period. For the second such failure within a rolling five-calendar year period, the Board may deny renewing the CPA’s certificate for at least 30 days and until the CPA meets the reissuance requirements in 21 NCAC 08J .0106.

To receive credit for a learning activity (an educational endeavor that maintains or improves professional competence),

  • The CPA must attend or complete the activity and receive a certificate of completion [21 NCAC 08G .0403(a)(1)];
  • The learning activity must meet the requirements of the Board’s rules on CPE; and
  • The learning activity must increase the professional competency of the CPA.

Each CPA should participate in learning activities that maintain or improve (or both) their professional competence in an accounting area in which they practice, are planning to practice, or in professional ethics. Because of differences in the education and experience of CPAs, a learning activity may contribute to the professional competence of one CPA but not another. Each CPA must exercise judgment in selecting learning activities and choose only those that contribute to that CPA’s professional competence.

The Board does not register CPE sponsors or approve specific CPE activities. CPE sponsors in good standing on NASBA’s National Registry of CPE Sponsors comply with 21 NCAC 08G .0403(b).

CPE activities completed in the calendar year that a certificate is approved may be used for that year’s requirement, even if the individual completed the minutes before the Board granted their CPA certificate. An individual may use CPE minutes completed as part of an application for reinstatement or reissuance to meet the annual CPE requirement. If a CPA completes more than the required number of CPE minutes in one calendar year, the extra minutes, not to exceed 1,000 minutes, may be carried forward and treated as minutes earned in the following year. Although a CPA cannot use carry-forward minutes to satisfy the annual ethics requirement, they can carry forward “extra” ethics minutes as general CPE. A licensee may check their carry-forward CPE minutes by reviewing their record on the Board’s website. Please contact the Licensing staff if there is a discrepancy in the carry-forward minutes.

A CPE sponsor determines the amount of credit for all self-study activities based on the average completion time or a word count formula. Please direct questions about the recommended minutes to the activity sponsor. The Board does not require licensees to complete QAS-approved self-study activities, nor does it require in-person education.

Credit for a learning activity will not be allowed by the Board unless the activity is

  • in one of the fields recognized by NASBA;
  • is developed by an individual who has education and work experience in the activity subject matter; and
  • uses current, accurate instructional techniques and materials.

Learning activities completed at accredited colleges and universities; formal self-study activities; formal education activities conducted within an association of accounting firms; technical sessions at meetings of national and state accounting organizations; and professional development activities of national and state accounting organizations may qualify as acceptable continuing education.

A CPA may claim CPE credit for teaching a learning activity for CPAs or authoring a publication if the preparation to teach or write increases the CPA’s professional competency and is in one of the NASBA-approved subject areas. The Board does not allow CPE credit for self-directed reading or researching accounting journals, periodicals, or reference guides and manuals; examinations designed to assess the comprehension of reading material; examinations for other designations; or ethics activities for other professions.

21 NCAC 08G .0401(e) requires all active North Carolina CPAs to complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group or self-study format. The Board only accepts an ethics activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor on the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry toward the annual ethics requirement. North Carolina-specific ethics courses are not required.

An ethics activity offered by a CPE sponsor not registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry is not compliant with 21 NCAC 08G .0401(e), and will not satisfy the annual ethics requirement. However, the course will count toward the general CPE requirement.

A non-resident North Carolina CPA may satisfy the annual CPE requirement by completing the requirement in the jurisdiction they are licensed and work or reside. A North Carolina-licensed who lives or works in a US jurisdiction that doesn’t have a CPE or ethics requirement must comply with North Carolina’s requirements.

A non-resident North Carolina CPA whose primary office is in North Carolina must complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group-study format or a self-study format. Any ethics CPE activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor on the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry will satisfy the Board’s annual ethics CPE activity requirement. North Carolina-specific ethics courses are not required. An ethics activity offered by a CPE sponsor not registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry is not compliant with 21 NCAC 08G .0401(e), and will not satisfy the annual ethics requirement. However, the course will count toward the general CPE requirement. All other non-resident licensees may meet the ethics CPE requirement by completing the ethics requirement in the US jurisdiction in which they are licensed as a CPA and work or reside.

If there is no ethics CPE requirement in the US jurisdiction where the non-resident licensee works or resides, they must complete at least 50 minutes of CPE on regulatory or behavioral professional ethics and conduct. The ethics activity may be in a group or self-study format. North Carolina-specific ethics courses are not required. Any ethics CPE activity (regulatory or behavioral on professional ethics and conduct) offered by a CPE sponsor on the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry will satisfy the Board’s annual ethics CPE activity requirement. An ethics activity offered by a CPE sponsor not registered with the NASBA National CPE Sponsor Registry is not compliant with 21 NCAC 08G .0401(e), and will not satisfy the annual ethics requirement. However, the course will count toward the general CPE requirement.

In conjunction with the annual license renewal period, the Board audits licensees’ CPE records to ensure compliance with the Board’s rules. If selected for the CPE audit, the licensee must respond to the Board within the specified time (usually 30 days) and provide completion certificates for each CPE activity claimed for credit. 21 NCAC 08G .0401(i) requires a CPA to maintain records substantiating the CPE credits claimed for the current year and each of the four prior calendar years.

If a licensee does not comply with the CPE requirement, the Board staff will refer the matter to the Board’s Professional Standards Committee. The Professional Standards Committee may recommend the Board take disciplinary action, such as forfeiture of the licensee’s certificate for one year with a $1,000.00 civil penalty, against the CPA.

21 NCAC 08J .0107 requires NC CPAs to notify the Board in writing of any change in mailing address, physical address, practice/business address, phone number, employment, email address, or website address within 30 days of the change. A licensee may update their contact information using the Board’s secure server. In the context of the Board’s records, email addresses are not a public record, and the Board does not share them with non-affiliated entities. If a licensee does not want their home address or telephone number to appear on the Board’s website, they must choose their business/practice address and telephone number as their mailing address.

If a licensee’s legal name changes, they must complete the Notice of Name Change form and provide the Board with a copy of the document(s) (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.) legally authorizing the name change. A licensee is not required to purchase a CPA certificate showing their new name but has the option to do so. To buy a CPA certificate showing their new name, the licensee must complete the Notice of Name Change form, provide the Board with a copy of the document(s) (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.) legally authorizing the name change, return the physical certificate initially issued by the Board, and submit a $25 check payable to the NC State Board of CPA Examiners or $25 credit/debit card payment authorization. The average processing time for a new CPA certificate is 120 days.

CPA Firms

Information on registering a CPA firm, firm registration renewals, peer review compliance, and the practice privilege for out-of-state firms

Consumers

Information on choosing a CPA or CPA firm, verifying a practitioner’s license, and filing a complaint

Search for a CPA or CPA Firm

Search the database for information on North Carolina CPAs and CPA firms

Search the Database