US CPA vs. Canada CPA – An Ultimate Guide

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US CPA vs. Canada CPA – An Ultimate Guide


When opting for a career in public accounting, people often stumble upon one of the most popular certifications – US CPA. When talking about CPA, people often mean the US Certified Public Accountant certification, which is globally popular and accepted. But due to the increasing local demand for public accountants, many individual countries have their own accounting body training and certifying individuals according to their national laws and regulations, and requirements. As such, Canada has an accounting body called the CPA Canada, which certifies individuals who appear for and clear the certification exam of the Canada CPA certification. 

In this article, we will explore the difference between US CPA vs. Canada CPA so that you can decide which certification is right for you.

Difference – US CPA vs. Canada CPA

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a qualification that acknowledges the credentials of the certificate holder as a professional in finance, public accounting, and business. Their employers highly regard and prefer certified CPAs due to their depth and quality of knowledge in the field of Accountancy. However, US CPA and Canada CPA are different in many aspects. Read ahead to learn all the differentiating aspects of the US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison to understand the benefits of both certifications.

What is a US CPA?

The Certified Professional Accountant (US CPA) is a professional credential offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in association with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to individuals validating their knowledge and expertise in the field of Accountancy. Individuals certified by the AICPA are hired by top multinational companies, businesses, and organizations to help them reach their financial goals and requirements.

The US CPA certification is a highly in-demand professional certification in various fields, including public accounting, business, nonprofits, and government sectors. Certified professional US CPAs are in high demand for their expertise and bag high-paying jobs in companies and organizations requiring services related to the field of Accountancy. 

To acquire the US CPA certification, candidates need to apply for and pass the certification exam called the Uniform CPA exam. The Uniform CPA exam is a standard CPA certification exam held four times a year. Candidates wishing to take the exam can do so in any available testing window.

Licensing Requirements

One of the most important differences in the comparison of US CPA vs. Canada CPA is the issuance of the license. US CPA certificate holders are eligible for CPA License, which entails them practicing their profession as a public accountant. However, certain eligibility prerequisites have to be fulfilled before they can apply for CPA licensure.

  • Educational Requirements: Most states/jurisdictions require at least a bachelor’s degree with 150 hours of education.
  • Exam: Candidates need to pass the Uniform CPA exam.
  • Ethics: After passing the US CPA exam, candidates must pass the Ethics exam, which can differ for different states.
  • Experience Requirements: Most states require candidates to acquire two years of work experience under the supervision of an active CPA professional with a valid CPA License.

Uniform CPA Exam

The Uniform CPA exam is a 16-hour exam consisting of 4 sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Based on these four sections, the Uniform CPA exam is held, which is divided into three categories of questions: multiple choice questions (MCQs), task-based simulations (TBS), and written communication tasks, collectively referred to as “testlets.”

Check the Uniform CPA exam pattern along with the weightage allocation in each section below.

Time Allotted 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours
Number of Questions 80 questions 69 questions 98 questions 84 questions
Multiple choice questions (MCQs) 72 questions of 50% weightage 60 questions of 50% weightage 90 questions of 50% weightage 76 questions of 50% weightage
Task-Based Simulations (TBS) 8 questions of 50% weightage 4 questions of 35% weightage and 3 written communications tasks of 35% weightage 8 questions of 50% weightage 8 questions of 50% weightage

Passing Criteria:

The Uniform CPA exam is graded on a scale of 0-99. Students must secure a minimum of 75% to clear the Uniform CPA exam and be eligible for CPA licensure.


An important deciding factor in the US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison is the fee structure applicable for each certification. There are four fee structures applicable for the Uniform CPA exam- 

  • Application Fee: This fee varies between USD 150 – USD 200 depending on the state.
  • Registration Fee: The registration fee varies between USD 70 to USD 150.
  • Examination Fees: For each part of the exam, an examination fee of USD 226 is applicable.
  • Evaluation Fee: This fee ranges between USD 225 to USD 350 and has to be paid to NASBA.

International Testing Fee: For candidates taking the Uniform CPA exam outside of the USA, an additional fee is applicable, which amounts to USD 1500 for the four papers.

CPA License for International Candidates

As the CPA license is issued by various states/jurisdictions in the USA, the CPA eligibility requirements have to be fulfilled. Therefore, they can only be issued after applying to a particular state after clearing the Uniform CPA exam.

Canada CPA Titleholders seeking USA CPA License

To obtain the US CPA credential, eligible Canadian CPAs must:

  • Pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX).
  • Upon successfully passing the IQEX, apply to a State Board.

Depending upon the jurisdiction in which the candidate wishes to apply, the process differs. However, the basic eligibility requirements remain the same.

Benefits of US CPA vs. Canada CPA Certification

In the US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison, there are some similarities. They both offer good career opportunities in the field of Accountancy with excellent career growth and salary packages. However, the benefit of US CPA over Canada CPA is that it takes less time to complete the US CPA course and the exam. Another benefit is the cost of a US CPA course which is much less than a Canada CPA. The benefit of international recognition is enjoyed by US CPA certificate holders, whereas Canada CPA professionals are eligible to work in Canada only.

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US CPA vs. Canada CPA Comparison Table

In this side-by-side US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison, you can understand the fundamental differences in both these certifications

Particulars US CPA Canada CPA
Designation US Certified Public Accountant Canada Chartered Professional Accountant
Accounting Body AICPA & NASBA Local (National) accounting body – CPA Canada
Duration 12-18 months 24-30 months
Syllabus 4 sections:Auditing and Attestation (AUD)Regulation (REG)Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) 6 modules:Core 1 & 2Electives 1 & 2Capstone 1Capstone 2
Passing Rate 53% 75%
Licensure Rights Yes No
Recognition In over 180 countries Only in Canada
Average Annual Salary $119,000 $141,000

What is a Canada CPA?

The Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada is a professional certification offered to individuals adept at accounting, taxation, and finance. It demonstrates them as a professional with experience and knowledge of the fundamentals of complex concepts and works according to the Code of Ethics under the CPA Canada. One can opt for the CPA Canada certification upon fulfilling the eligibility requirements for CPA Canada.

Prerequisites for Canada CPA certification

The requirements of the four E’s have to be met to be eligible for the Canada CPA certification.

  1. Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for candidates taking the CPA exam include the following-

  • 150 semester hours of coursework, including 30 semester hours of accounting
  • 24 semester hours of the required 30 semester hours of Accounting coursework have to be above the introductory level. 

The following specializations have to be studied during the relevant coursework:

  • Auditing (excluding internal auditing)
  • Financial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Management and cost accounting

Besides the above-mentioned topics, candidates also need to be well acquainted with the Professional Ethics of CPAs.

Alternatively, candidates who have a score of 620 on their GMAT test alongside holding a graduation degree with 30 semester hours of coursework in accounting and additional work experience may not require to fulfill the 150 credit hour criteria.

  1. Experience Requirements

Candidates are required to acquire at least one year of work experience in the relevant fields at a public accounting firm, a government organization, or an individual business.

Exemption allowed: Candidates with five or more than five years of professional post-qualification work experience without having a recognized University degree are exempted from assessment of the experience.

  1. Exam Requirements

Candidates need to clear CPA PEP along with the CPA Common Final Exam (CFE), which can be completed within two years of registering. Candidates with other professional certifications like CA, CGA, or CMA are eligible to acquire Canada CPA. They have to contact the local CPA body, after which they will be eligible to take the final CPA exam test. Such candidates are exempted from the other exam modules under the CPA Canada certification exam.

  1. Extra Requirements

As the CPA Canada certification is localized within Canada, candidates may be required to fulfill additional criteria requirements as specified by the Accounting body of the state in which they would like to practice.

CPA Professional Education Program

Another important aspect of the US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison is the certification exam conducted. While US CPA certification requires clearing the Uniform CPA exam, the Canada CPA exam requires clearing the CPA Professional Education Program or CPA PEP exam.

The CPA PEP consists of four modules:

  • Core 1 & 2
  • Electives 1 & 2
  • Capstone 1
  • Capstone 2

Capstones 1 and 2 focus on developing the practical knowledge of candidates, which they have acquired throughout the CPA exam. Capstone 1 module includes testing of leadership skills and professional skills along with the integration of competencies. The capstone 2 module focuses on developing case writing skills and helping candidates prepare for the CFE.

CPA PEP Structure

The CPA PEP (Professional Education Program) exam comprises a series of modules culminating in the three-day Common Final Examination (CFE).

In the CPA PEP, candidates must follow the mentioned path of exam modules:

  • Core 1
  • Core 2
  • Electives 1&2 (in either order)
  • Capstone 1
  • Capstone 2
  • Common Final Examination (CFE)


This part consists of six integrated core competency areas, which include the following:

1. Financial Reporting

2. Strategy and Governance

3. Management Accounting

4. Audit and Assurance

5. Finance

6. Taxation


This part of the CPA PEP exam consists of two compulsory elective subjects, which candidates need to choose from a list of given options. Candidates choose any two modules:

  • Assurance
  • Performance Management
  • Taxation
  • Finance

Candidates who have knowledge or experience in Public Accounting must choose the following topics:

  • Assurance
  • Taxation

Common Final Exam (CFE)

The official certification exam of the Canada CPA is the Common Final Exam, a 3-day examination testing the candidate’s competency development throughout the CPA PEP module.

CPA Canada Fees

Candidates need to pay different exam fees based on the time of the year when they take the exam. The two testing windows available in a year are:

  • January-June, and 
  • July-December. 

Let’s take a look at the CPA course fee in detail.

  1. January to June

If candidates are registering between January 1 and June 30, the CPA exam fee break up is as follows:

Particulars Fee
Initial Administration Fee $125
Annual Student Registration Fee $600
Total Registration Fee before Taxes $725
Taxes on Annual Student Registration Fee $16.25
Taxes on Initial Administration Fee $78
Total $819.25

2. July to December

If candidates are registering between July 1 and December 31, candidates need to pay the following Registration fee and additional fees:

Particulars Fees
Initial Admission Fee $125
Annual Student Registration Fee $300
Total Registration Fee before Taxes $425
Taxes on Annual Student Registration Fee $16.25
Taxes on Initial Administration Fee $39
Total  $480.25

US CPAs wanting to earn the Canada CPA credential

Switching over to the Canada CPA credential from US CPA has many advantages if you wish to pursue your career as a CPA in Canada. Many companies and organizations in Canada look for Canada CPA professionals who are preferred over US CPA professionals. To get an additional credential, you need to fulfill the criteria requirements for Canada CPA. Moreover, with the dual certification, you will increase your chances of getting preferred over other candidates applying for jobs in the top companies.


Both US CPA and Canada CPA are professional credentials in the domain of Accountancy. However, it is clear from the US CPA vs. Canada CPA comparison that the US CPA has more coverage of jurisdiction than the Canada CPA. US CPA certificate holders are eligible to practice worldwide with the help of a CPA License. Therefore, if you are determined to practice as a CPA, it is better to pursue US CPA certification.

Clearing the Uniform CPA exam for obtaining the US CPA certification is not easy, especially given the amount of time available for clearing the whole exam. But preparing for the Uniform CPA exam has been made easy with CPA coaching from NorthStar Academy! Prepare for the US CPA exam in just 12 months with the comprehensive US CPA course where you will be trained by expert mentors like M Irfat sir

Enrolling in the US CPA course also makes you eligible for Bundle discounts on the exam fee. You can also access online classes for the CPA course on Android and iOS platforms so that you can prepare for the Uniform CPA exam anytime you want from anywhere you want!
So join the US CPA course at NorthStar Academy today and build a prosperous career as a public accountant with the US CPA certification!

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