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. Individuals who live in North Carolina and are licensed as a CPA by another jurisdiction but not by this Board may use “CPA” or “Certified Public Accountant” on a résumé if they include the jurisdiction that granted the CPA certificate/license and the status of the certificate/license if it is on a status other than active (e.g., inactive, retired, lapsed, etc.).
All active North Carolina CPAs are required to renew their license annually before July 1. Effective with the 2024-2025 CPA license renewal, CPAs will 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. 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. 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
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.
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.
A CPA on active status or inactive status may request a change to CPA-retired status by applying to the Board and 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 prepare tax returns for themselves and their immediate family members without compensation and may prepare tax returns through public service programs without compensation, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. They must renew their certificates annually; however, they are exempt from the Board’s annual CPE requirements.
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.
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
|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.
NOTE: Session Law 2023-134, Section 42.7.(a) repealed NCGS 105-41. However, the Board has not received confirmation from the NC Dept. of Revenue that the repeal is effective for taxable years on or after July 1, 2024.
Under NCGS 105-41, “Every person engaged in the public practice of accounting as a principal, or as a manager of the business of public accountant, shall pay for such [privilege] license fifty dollars ($50.00), and in addition shall pay a license of twelve dollars and fifty cents ($12.50) for each person employed who is engaged in the capacity of supervising or handling the work of auditing, devising or installing systems of accounts. Licenses issued under this section are issued as personal privilege licenses and shall not be issued in the name of a firm or corporation.” Please review the Opinion Letter issued by the Department of Revenue for an explanation of the privilege license as it relates to CPAs and CPA firms. Please contact the NC Department of Revenue for privilege license requirement information.
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),
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.
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
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.
Information on applying for the Uniform CPA Exam as a North Carolina candidate
Information on applying for an original or reciprocal North Carolina CPA license
Information for North Carolina CPAs on license renewal, status changes, and CPE requirements
Information on registering a CPA firm, firm registration renewals, peer review compliance, and the practice privilege for out-of-state firms
Information on choosing a CPA or CPA firm, verifying a practitioner’s license, and filing a complaint
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