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Public Accounting Licensing

Public Accounting Licensing

CPARE Program

Interested in public accounting? Learn more about the CPARE program.

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Public Accounting Services

If you wish to engage in the practice of public accounting in Ontario, you are required to hold an active Public Accounting Licence (PAL). Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to apply for one.

Obtaining a PAL

CPA Ontario is authorized by the Public Accountants Council (PAC) for the province of Ontario to licence and govern our members in the practice of public accounting.


Who can obtain a PAL?

A member in good standing of CPA Ontario who has met the eligibility requirements and who has never held a PAL, or who has previously held a PAL that has lapsed or expired, is eligible to apply for a new PAL. A member needs to be associated with a registered firm in order to apply for a PAL.

CPA Ontario students are not eligible to obtain a PAL prior to admission to membership. Learn more about the Public Accounting path and the choices you need to make in your CPA Program in order to be eligible to apply for a PAL upon admission to membership.


When is a PAL required to be held by a member?

A PAL is required when you are engaging in the practice of public accounting and you are the lead engagement person responsible for signing the report or statement issued related to:

  • Any assurance engagement (including an audit or review engagement).
  • Any compilation engagement where services may be relied upon or used by a third party and the prescribed wording for the Notice to Reader is not used.
  • The report for the engagement is issued in Ontario or the work for the engagement is primarily performed in Ontario.

A PAL is not required if you:

  • Are not the lead engagement person responsible for signing the report or statement. Members of the engagement team who are not the lead engagement person, including the quality control review partner, are not required to be licensed.
  • Do not provide any assurance services (including audit or review engagements) but do provide other services including: compilations in which the services may be relied upon or used by a third party and the prescribed wording for the Notice to Reader is used, taxation, accounting, internal audit, controllership, insolvency services or business advisory services.


How to apply for a PAL

  • Fulfill the licensing requirements.
  • Go to My Portal, select Obligations and Requests, and then Applications and Start New Application. Finally click on PAL Application.
  • Remit a PAL application fee.

Applications are reviewed by the Public Accounting Licensing Board (PALB). If you are granted a PAL, you will have public accounting practice rights in Ontario. You will receive a licence by email within four weeks of approval. Your name will be added to the Directory of Public Accounting Licensees and the Roll of Public Accountants.

Each new PAL is effective as of the date on which it is approved by the PALB and expires on October 31 each year. You must renew your PAL on an annual basis if you wish to maintain public accounting rights in Ontario. 

The PAL application fee is nonrefundable in the event that your application is denied or closed for failure to submit a complete application within the time prescribed in the regulation (prior to or within 30 days of making the application or any request by the Registrar.)

For more details on the Public Accounting Licensure requirements, refer to Regulation 17-1 or the Licensing FAQs below.

See also:


How to renew your Public Accounting Licence

The public accounting licensing period is November 1 to October 31. Licensees are reminded that your PAL expires on October 31 and you must complete the PAL renewal process 30 days prior to expiry each year in order to maintain a licence.

To renew your PAL Go to My Portal, select Obligations and Requests, select Annual Obligations, and click Complete Application on the Public Accounting Licence Renewal tile.

Please see the FAQs for more information about the PAL renewal requirements.

Exemption

Members who engage in the practice of public accounting without reward are exempted by Ontario Regulation 238/05 from the requirement to be licensed if provided: 

    1. By a person who is a member of a professional accounting body that administers a process for addressing public complaints against its members and who is insured against professional liability.
    2. On a basis that is independent of the person for whom the services are being provided.

    Insurance Requirement for Members Providing Assurance Services Without Reward

    To assist members who provide assurance services without reward for small charitable and not-for-profit organizations, CPA Ontario's Council have approved the establishment of a policy to provide insurance coverage at no cost to such members, provided that they register with CPA Ontario and meet certain prescribed terms and conditions. One of the conditions is that each organization for which assurance services are provided without reward have annual gross revenue from all sources of $100,000 or less.

    To determine if you qualify for such coverage under CPA Ontario’s policy and to apply for coverage, please complete and submit an application form.

    Members who provide assurance services without reward for organizations having annual gross revenue in excess of $100,000, or who otherwise do not meet the prescribed terms and conditions must obtain their own insurance coverage. They are also required to file annually with CPA Ontario a declaration confirming the insurance coverage.

    Disclosure Requirements

    Licensees and firms must disclose that they hold a licence, or that the professional corporation is authorized to practise public accounting.  Learn more about disclosure requirements.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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