Puerto Rico requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree and be 21 years old. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Puerto Rico and have a valid Social Security number. Individuals who meet these qualifications can take the first step to getting licensed by taking the Uniform CPA Examination.
Step 1: CPA exam in Puerto Rico
Sitting for the CPA exam in Puerto Rico requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and have 150 hours of credit, which includes coursework in accounting and general business courses.
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. They must also have 150 credit hours. Applicants can sit for the exam when they are in the last semester of completing their educational requirements if they have 38 hours in accounting courses and a 3.0 GPA.
The coursework includes:
- 32 semester (48 quarter) hours in accounting subjects
- 32 semester (48 quarter) hours in accounting and general business such as business law, information systems, economics and finance
Application and test fees
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the exam. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to NASBA, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited school and a 2.0 GPA. Applicants are also required to submit a 2-inch by 2-inch photo, two character references and a certificate of good conduct from the Puerto Rico Police Department.
The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with requesting and receiving authorization to take the test, followed by acknowledgement from the territory and official notice to schedule (NTS) the exam. Once this process is completed, applicants can select a date to take the CPA exam. The NTS expires in six months, after which candidates must submit a new application. The exam is available the first two months of each calendar quarter.
Puerto Rico law requires that first-time applicants submit a $210 application fee plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are also required to pay a registration fee in addition to exam fees. Registration fees are $175 for four sections, $155 for three sections, $135 for two sections and $115 for one section.
In addition to the application fee, there are substantial administrative costs that must be paid in advance to the NASBA.
The Uniform CPA Examination comprises four sections:
- Auditing and Attestation
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Business Environment and Concepts
Each section of the exam has a specified administration fee. Applicants may take one or more of the four required sections at a time. In addition to the administration fee for each section, CPA exam applicants are charged a separate fee for each testing session they take.
Taking, passing and retaking the CPA exam
The passing score for each of the four exam sections is 75. Applicants may take the sections individually and in any order, but are required to pass all four within a rolling 18-month period, which begins on the date the first examination section passed was taken.
Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination section was taken. Examination credits expire by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside of the 18-month period.
Step 2: CPA license in Puerto Rico
After successfully passing all four sections of the exam, obtaining 150 hours of education and obtaining the required work experience, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in Puerto Rico. Applicants must submit a licensure application to NASBA along with a $145 fee. Applicants also need to obtain a Certificate of Compliance with ASUME and a certificate of membership with the Puerto Rico CPA Society.
Candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree and 150 hours of education.
One year of full-time, 1,820 hours, or three years of part-time accounting experience is required for full licensing. Experience can be obtained in public accounting, academia, industry or private practice and must be under a licensed CPA.
Out-of-territory CPA licenses
Puerto Rico allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the commonwealth as long as the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal. Puerto Rico also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of Puerto Rico’s Board of Accountancy. All U.S. and foreign CPAs are required to submit a certificate of good conduct from their state or jurisdiction and from the Puerto Rico police department. They must also submit a Certificate of Compliance with ASUME and have five years of experience.
Disclaimer: Requirements for Puerto Rico CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Visit the territory’s website to check for recent revisions to Puerto Rico’s CPA requirements.
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