Bridging to public accounting registration (licensure) after certification

Learn how members who qualified as a CPA through a route other than public accounting can qualify to practice public accounting post certification.

The new CPA certification program is very flexible. Students/candidates can customize the program by choosing the appropriate education, evaluation and experience requirement options to meet their career goals.

The most prescribed career path for CPAs is public accounting, the requirements for which are determined by provincial regulation and legislation. Many students/candidates meet these requirements when they earn their CPA designation by making particular choices within the certification program:

  • education: completing the assurance and taxation electives
  • evaluation: writing the Common Final Examination demonstrating depth in the assurance role and depth in financial reporting
  • experience: meeting the specific chargeable hour requirements for public accounting within the mandatory 30 months of qualifying practical experience

Registration requirements for public accounting can also be met after certification as a CPA, ensuring all CPAs offering public accounting services meet the profession’s competency standards and the regulatory requirements in their jurisdiction.

Provincial regulations and bylaws

The specific regulations and bylaws of the provincial bodies take precedence over these general guidelines and requirements. CPA members are subject to the specific regulations and bylaws of the provincial body with which they have registered.

Please note, the specific regulations and bylaws of CPA Ontario reflect the requirements of the Public Accountants Council for the Province of Ontario (PAC). PAC has authorized CPA Ontario to license public accountants in accordance with the Public Accounting Act, 2004 through the pre-certification route and these specific requirements take precedence over the general requirements. At this time, PAC has not approved the post-designation public accounting (PDPA) program.


The PDPA program offers members who qualified without public accounting practice rights an efficient education and examination option. It comprises a mandatory education module and examination in assurance, taxation, financial accounting, finance, and strategy and governance. It is mandatory for members seeking post-certification public accounting registration in jurisdictions with no tiered registration, and for audit and review registration in jurisdictions offering tiered registration.

Requirements for members seeking public accounting registration (licensure) post certification
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The PDPA module structure

The PDPA module covers the technical knowledge required for public accounting registration, including tax, assurance, financial reporting, finance, and strategy and governance. It is a self-study module that consists of reading resources, practice problems and multiple-choice questions covering the CPA Competency Map at the elective level. There are no deadlines, submissions or face-to-face components (for example, workshops) to the module.

Designed as a preparatory module, participants are provided with a suggested eight-week study schedule to assist with the preparation of the PDPA examination. Candidates must complete the PDPA module to be eligible to write the PDPA examination.

The PDPA examination

The PDPA examination consists of objective format questions testing the required technical knowledge for public accounting registration. See the PDPA examination blueprint for more information.

Members must complete the PDPA module to be eligible to write the PDPA examination.

The PDPA examination is scheduled once a year until further notice. The next PDPA examination is scheduled for August 11, 2017.


Members seeking registration for audit and review are required to complete the CPA PDPA program and meet the practical experience for requirements in their jurisdiction.


Members seeking registration for compilation in jurisdictions offering tiered registration are required to complete the taxation elective of the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP), and meet their jurisdiction’s practical experience requirements for compilation. Members seeking compilation registration post certification do not require completion of the PDPA program.

Contact your provincial/regional body to register for the PDPA program.


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