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CPA Mobility

Several states across the country are addressing the issue of substantial equivalency in an attempt to ease the burden of CPAs trying to practice across state lines.


The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) have issued revisions Section 23 of the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) (.DOC) to achieve a uniform national equivalency standard.

Mobility Resources and State Licensing Issues (Latest Map and Information from the AICPA)
Mobility Defined
Barriers to Mobility: A Crisis for Many CPAs

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is mobility?

Practice mobility for CPAs is the ability of a licensee to gain a practice privilege outside of their home state without getting an additional license in another state where they will be serving a client.  Mobility supports the ease of movement to practice in other states.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) have agreed to revisions to the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) to provide for mobility.
The four provisions for mobility in the revised UAA include the following:
  • No fees
  • No notification
  • No additional requirements (for example, CPE, ethics courses, firm licensure)
  • No escape – CPA would submit to the jurisdiction of the state where he/she is practicing

What has been done in the past to promote mobility? 

A few years ago, a concept called “substantial equivalency” was promoted by the AICPA and NASBA. The basis of substantial equivalency is the requirement of the three E’s for licensure. They are education, examination, and experience. Education means achieving 150 hours of education; examination refers to passing the Uniform CPA; and experience translates into one-year of work experience. 
Substantial equivalency was designed to promote mobility. If a licensee met the three E’s, he/she should be able to pass easily from one state to another to practice. While 34 of the 55 jurisdictions have passed legislation for the three E’s, the reality is that no two states have identical requirements.  West Virginia is one of the 34 states to be considered substantially equivalent.

Why are new measures being sought?

Currently, each state has its own rules, regulations, and requirements to allow out-of-state CPAs to provide services in that state, resulting in a patchwork system that is inefficient and increasingly difficult to navigate.  Some states require CPAs and firms to register in their state, even if the CPA never physically enters the state. Registration forms and the processes required to practice in another state can be burdensome, and the length of time to obtain a permit may be lengthy. Additionally, fees can be costly, especially if the practitioner is entering multiple states.
Hence, the profession has arrived at a new model termed “mobility.”

What are some of the advantages of mobility?

Compliance and enforcement of the existing system are almost impossible, with multiple, cumbersome processes and disparities in requirements and fees. Business realities, including an increase in interstate commerce and virtual technologies, require a uniform system that allows fluid practice across state lines.
Implementation of a uniform provision would allow consumers to receive timely services from the CPA best suited to the job, regardless of location, without the hindrances of unnecessary filings, forms, and increased costs that do not protect the public interest.

How will State Boards of Accountancy regulate CPAs operating in their state if mobility provisions are adopted?

State Boards of Accountancy will gain automatic jurisdiction over all CPAs practicing in their state, enabling states to discipline out-of-state licenses, whether or not they are registered/licensed in the state.

Which states are adopting mobility? 

Mobility is rapidly moving across the country. States where CPAs can now move seamlessly across state lines to practice include: Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maine, Tennessee, Texas, Rhode Island, and Illinois. Legislative action has been initiated in Massachusetts, Delaware, and Oklahoma. The first steps toward mobility have been taken by Oregon, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. Many other states anticipate legislative activity in 2008.