In the first agreement of its kind, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has agreed a deal with US accountancy bodies NASBA and AICPA to enable members from each country to practice the jurisdiction of the other nation.

The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) enables ICAS members to get the US CPA and licensure, and US Certified Public Accountants to obtain the CA designation and UK audit signing rights.

With this deal, CAs now only need to pass one exam, the International Qualification Exam (IQEX), and satisfy the relevant state board requirements.

The deal has been approved by all government bodies. In the UK, these are the Financial Reporting Council and ICAS Council.

Anton Colella, CEO of ICAS, said: “This is an historic agreement. It’s the first of its kind between a UK Chartered Accountancy body and American accountancy bodies, and comes at a pivotal point for the UK.

“It not only creates new opportunities in the world of transatlantic trade, but also reinforces the high standing in which we hold our American colleagues, and the expertise they value in us.”

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, commented: “This is a really welcome initiative, which my department supports, and shows the huge benefits which greater UK-US co-operation can bring to our businesses.”

He added: “Mutual recognition of qualifications can help boost trade in services, making it easier for our world-leading professionals to operate in other countries.

“Through our UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group we are looking at how we can support our services industries to work and trade across the Atlantic, building on our £50bn of annual services exports to the USA.”

Advantages of the MRA

A key benefit of the MRA is that it simplifies the entire process, reducing the examination requirements for eligible ICAS members and licensed CPAs.

CAs only need to pass the IQEX and satisfy the Board requirements of the state they are in, while eligible US CPAs must complete the international qualification pathway, which is a two-year training contract. They must also have requisite UK audit experience.

The creation of the MRA also acknowledges the growing global business environment by providing UK and US accountants with the skills they need to operate in both markets.

Mark Allison, ICAS executive director, commented: “One of the many benefits of the CA qualification is the opportunities it creates for professionals to work in other countries.”


Both CAs and US CPAs must meet certain criteria in order to take advantage of this agreement.

CAs must:

  • Be an ICAS member in good standing.
  • Have an undergraduate degree.
  • Have completed the ICAS CA Qualification Program
  • Have two years of relevant, post-qualification practical work experience.

US CPAs must:

  • Be a licensed CPA in good standing with a State Board.
  • Have an undergraduate degree.
  • Have completed the Uniform CPA exam.
  • Have completed State Board requirements for licensure and two years of post-qualification work experience.

A global business environment

Representatives from ICAS, NASBA, and AICPA met at an office in New York at an official ceremony to sign the agreement.

President and CEO of NASBA, Ken L. Bishop, said of the deal: “It is remarkable that is has taken decades to reach this historic agreement positively impacting the accounting professions of the United States and the UK.  I applaud the tremendous effort and perseverance of the staff and volunteers of the respective organizations to finalize this crucial agreement.”

Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC, said: “The FRC welcomes the Mutual Recognition Agreement signed between ICAS, NASBA and the AICPA.

“Recognising the skills needed in a global business environment, the agreement provides a pathway for qualified professionals in the UK and the US to gain audit rights in each other’s jurisdictions. We consider that this is an approach that can be replicated more widely.”

AICPA President and CEO, Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA said: “Agreements like this come to fruition through the dedication of the respective accounting bodies, the diligence of member volunteers who serve on the International Qualifications Appraisal Board, and the commitment of NASBA and the state boards it represents. Together, we are building increased international recognition for U.S. CPAs in every corner of the world.”

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