How Do International Students Apply for the CPA?

Updated: May 23, 2023 You’re our #1 priority.
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The application process for the CPA exam is overly complicated and confuses many people. But what if you are not a US citizen? How does one go about the process if you are not even living in the United States?

For the most part, the application process is the same for US and international applicants. This article will break down how the CPA exam works on an international level, so you can cruise on through the application process stress-free.

Who Can Take the CPA Exam?

If you are not a US citizen, you can still qualify to be a US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as long as you meet the Board of Accountancy eligibility requirements in one of the 54 U.S. jurisdictions. These include the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the 55th jurisdiction, is not yet ready to accept CPA applicants, but stay tuned if you want a destination exam trip!

In 2011, the CPA Exam opened up prometric test centers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Brazil. In order to qualify for the exam at one of these locations, you will first have to establish your eligibility through applying to a state board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration Program.

The test is offered only in English, so you must be a fluent English speaker—I’d recommend brushing up on your fluency before taking the test anyway.

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The Application Process for the Uniform CPA Exam

The major difference in the application process for international students is the evaluation of educational credentials. If you completed your educational requirements in a locale outside of the US, there needs to be an evaluation of your credits to make sure that you match the educational standard set by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

Check here for evaluation services from NASBA. This step should be completed before you begin the application process, since it can take up to 6 or 8 weeks for your international education to be approved.


The rest of the application process is basically the same for both U.S. and international CPA candidates. You must first select the U.S. jurisdiction to which you will apply, contact the Board of Accountancy in your chosen jurisdiction to gather the proper application materials, and then submit the completed applications plus fees.

Once your education has been deemed qualified, you will receive your Notice to Schedule, which will let you register for your CPA exam at a Prometric center. You can see more details for this process in my application process blog post.

You also don’t want to wait around to start your CPA exam preparation. Get started today with one of the best review courses!

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Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes,, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes