5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Delaware
In the world of business and accounting, the Diamond State is a big deal. That’s because it has some of the friendliest laws in the world on the books for corporations. The Delaware Court of Chancery that reviews corporate tax issues is the most respected in the country, the structural requirements for corporations here are flexible, and the state provides great privacy protections for corporate ownership.
And since businesses that incorporate here don’t have to pay state income taxes as long as they don’t have actual operations in the state, more than 60 percent of the corporations in the Fortune 500 have done exactly that. In fact, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, Wall Street underwriters often make incorporating in Delaware a requirement for any corporation to get financing.
Businesses that incorporate here pursue exotic tax strategies, like establishing passive investment corporations. And according to the CPA Journal, those kinds of strategies can lower tax liabilities by nearly 25 percent.
Those kinds of tax strategies don’t design or build themselves. It takes highly-trained CPAs to put them together and make everything click into place. All of this makes Delaware very fertile ground for certified public accountants.
The steps in this guide will show you exactly how to become a CPA in Delaware.
- Get Your Education in Delaware
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Delaware
- Gain the Necessary Experience in Delaware
- Get Your Delaware CPA License
- Continuing Education in Delaware
1. Get Your Education – Meeting CPA Degree Requirements in Delaware
a. Request information from Delaware universities offering programs in accounting. The Delaware State Board of Accountancy requires CPAs to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and complete 150 semester hours of college credit in total.
With the standard bachelor’s degree in accounting consisting of just 120 semester hours, going on to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s in accounting is the most tried and tested way to earn the 30 additional credits you need to become a CPA in Delaware. Many of these programs are available entirely online. You can also find specialized five-year CPA track programs that combine a bachelor’s and master’s curriculum to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in Delaware.
b. The Delaware State Board of Accountancy recognizes applicable degrees and credits earned at any college or university accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies authorized by the U.S. Department of Education:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
This type of accreditation is standard for all public and private institutions of higher education operating in the U.S. Any program that fails to meet these standards must be assessed by the Delaware State Board of Accountancy to make sure it fulfills the state’s curriculum requirements.
c. Meet Delaware’s CPA degree and curriculum requirements. Between your bachelor’s degree and any additional undergraduate courses you take through a concurrent certificate or minor, or post-graduate courses through a master’s or post-baccalaureate certificate, you must complete no less than 24 semester hours of coursework in
- Accounting principles
- Intermediate accounting
- Cost accounting
- Tax auditing
- Advanced accounting
- Accounting information systems
- Online courses are acceptable when the applicant receives credit for them at a regionally accredited U.S. university
- Commercial CPA review courses are not accepted.
- Correspondence, CLEP and CPA review courses are not acceptable.
If you wish, you may complete the Delaware Pre-Evaluation Form supplied by NASBA, through CPA Central. For a $50 fee, NASBA will help determine if you have completed the proper coursework before you apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. You must submit official transcripts with the fee and application to: CPA Examination Services – Pre-Eval, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219.
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Once you have completed 120 of Delaware’s 150 credit hour requirement and earned a bachelor degree, with those credits including the 24 credit hour accounting concentration requirement, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam.
a. Apply through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to take the Uniform CPA Examination. Applications may be submitted online or downloaded from CPAES. You can register online with CPAES or download application forms here.
b. Submit the appropriate documents to CPAES with your application. These include:
- Having your academic institution(s) send official transcripts directly to CPAES
- Completed, signed and notarized Attestation Form submitted by you to CPAES
- ADA Accommodation Form, if necessary
- International Evaluation, if necessary, from evaluation agency directly to CPAES
If you applied via paper application, submit application and examination fees by check, money order or credit card form. If you applied online, pay all fees via credit card. Send completed application and supporting documentation to:
CPA Examination Services – DE
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219
c. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will issue your Notification to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Examination within two days of paying your examination fee. The NTS will be issued in the manner you chose when you applied for the test (mail, fax or email). This will include a password for each of the four parts of the examination for which you have registered and dates that you are eligible to take each part of the exam.
d. Visit Prometric’s website where you can schedule your exam at a participating Delaware testing site.
e. Report to the exam site on the day of your examination prepared for testing.
f. NASBA’s CPA Exam Services will send your exam scores to the Board. In turn, the Board will send your scores to you via mail.
For further information or to make special testing accommodations, call the Delaware Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM. For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Gain The Necessary Experience
Once you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam, you must satisfy Delaware’s practical experience requirements to receive a CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice Certified Public Accountancy.
a. Before beginning the experiential piece of your Delaware CPA licensing requirement, you must complete Professional Ethics: The AICPA Comprehensive Course. This home study course is given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and may be purchased at the link provided. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that you must send to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 203, Dover, Delaware 19904-2467 with your Combined Application for CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice.
b. You must complete one year of accounting experience under Delaware law. All paid employment opportunities may be researched through your college’s career center.
- Experience must involve providing services or advice involving the use of any of the following:
- Consulting skills
- Tax skills
- Financial advisory skills
- Management advisory skills
- Compilation skills
- Attest skills
- Accounting skills
- Experience must be gained through employment in public practice, academia, industry or government.
- Experience must have occurred within the past 10 years.Experience must be verified through notarized affidavit by your supervising certified public accountant who holds a valid license. The Affidavit of Supervised Work Experience is found in the Combined CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice form.
Responsibilities of the verifying CPA
- Must be a licensed, certified public accountant holding a valid Permit to Practice Certified Public Accountancy in Delaware or another jurisdiction
- Document the applicant’s dates of employment on the Affidavit of Work Experience
- Document the duties performed by the applicant
- State the time devoted to practicing each duty
- Affirm the competency and professionalism of the applicant
- Include a statement of jurisdiction of the verifying CPA
- Sign document and have document notarized
- If applicant is a sole practitioner, he or she may document his or her own experience
Responsibilities of the applicant
- Select a licensed, certified public accountant holding a valid Permit to Practice Certified Public Accountancy
- Submit an affidavit from each employer with whom experience is claimed
- Submit the completed, notarized Affidavit of Work Experience along with your Combined CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice application to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy, Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 203, Dover, Delaware 19904-2467
4. Get Your Delaware CPA License
After passing the Uniform CPA Exam and completing Delaware’s practical experience requirement, you’re ready for licensure. Delaware’s accountancy licensing system is classified as a “two tier” licensing structure. According to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy, this means that all CPAs in the state must first hold a certificate and then obtain a permit to practice (which in other states is known as a license) in order to legally practice public accounting. The following is a checklist of everything you should have completed up to this point:
- Complete educational requirements of a bachelor’s degree with 150 total credit hours and a 24 semester hour accounting concentration. Your school must send your official transcript directly to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy, Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 203, Dover, Delaware 19904-2467
- Apply through CPA Examination Services to take the Uniform CPA Examination
- Complete the home study course Professional Ethics: The AICPA Comprehensive Course given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Accomplish one year of practical work experience under the supervision of a certified public accountant holding a valid Permit to Practice Certified Public Accountancy
- Complete the experience requirements based upon your degree level. Have your supervising CPA complete, sign and notarize the Affidavit of Work Experience. This will be submitted with your Combined CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice application in the next step.
b. Apply for your Delaware CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice Certified Public Accountancy. Delaware requires all CPAs to have both documents in order to practice legally in the state.
- The Delaware State Board of Accountancy provides a Combined Application for CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice. After you have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and completed the AICPA ethics course, you may apply for both the certificate and the permit simultaneously via this form.
- The form requires you to provide basic information, such as education, examination score, passage of the AICPA ethics course, and experience. Along with the application, be sure to send all of the supporting documentation from Step 1.
- Submit application, supporting documents and required fees to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy, Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Blvd., Suite 203, Dover, Delaware 19904-2467.
- Allow 8 to 12 weeks for your application to be approved and to receive your CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice by mail.
Interstate Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license from another state and are seeking a Delaware Permit to Practice, you must prove that you meet the requirements of the State. You must also:
- Sign a sworn statement that you have not participated in any activities for which the Board would have to discipline you
- Obtain a statement from the board of accountancy in your state certifying that there are no disciplinary proceedings pending against you
- Provide an active certified public accountant license in good standing issued by a state that is equivalent to Delaware’s public accountancy standards under NASBA and AICPA rules (or if your state is not NASBA verified, a statement that your qualifications have been NASBA verified)
You must also satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Meet all current Delaware requirements for licensure
- Have met all Delaware requirements for licensure at the time of issuance of your license from another state
- Have five years’ professional experience in the practice of certified public accountancy
International Reciprocal License
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) along with NASBA has determined that being a CPA or Chartered Accountant from any of the following international jurisdictions is equivalent to requirements for CPA licenses and certificates in each of the United States:
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
- Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
The Delaware Board of Accountancy accepts these recommendations for international reciprocity. If you are a chartered accountant or CPA from one of these approved international jurisdictions, you must:
- Request a Letter of Good Standing to be submitted from your country’s credentialing agency to NASBA
- Apply here to take the International Uniform Certified Public Account Qualification Examination (IQEX). Mail your application and fees to: NASBA, Attn: IQEX, P.O. Box 440555, Nashville, TN 37244
- You will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) the IQEX by mail or email (whichever method you have previously chosen) and be able to schedule your test via Prometric’s website.
- Test results will be mailed to you as they are available.
If you’re a chartered accountant or CPA not from one of these approved international jurisdictions, you must follow the standard procedures to apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam in Delaware and have your educational credentials evaluated by a member organization of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services.
5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Delaware
In order to maintain licensure, the Delaware State Board of Accountancy requires each CPA holding a Permit to Practice to attain a certain number of continuing professional education (CPE) hours biannually. Programs that have been approved by NASBA qualify for credit. These programs must be deemed formal programs of learning that contribute directly to a CPA’s professional competence.
a. Each CPA holding a Permit to Practice must complete at least 80 hours of CPE in every two-year licensing period. This must include:
- 8 hours in accounting and/or auditing
- 8 hours in taxation
- 4 hours in a Delaware-specific ethics course approved by the Board
- 20 additional hours in accounting, auditing or taxation
b. All programs must satisfy the following conditions:
- Each CPE program must be at least 50 minutes in length and conducted by a qualified instructor
- Webinars or internet seminars qualify only if there is opportunity for live interaction between participants and instructor and a certificate is issued upon completion
- Correspondence and individual study programs qualify with the amount of credit for each determined by the Board
- Published articles and books may be used up to 50 minutes for each publication on a self-declaration basis, to a maximum of 20 hours per renewal period
c. Each CPA must maintain CPE documentation for at least 5 years, including date, location, field of study, sponsor of course, title and description, number of hours claimed, and type of instructional or delivery method.
Now That You’re a CPA in Delaware
Well done! You’re now a licensed, certified CPA in Delaware who holds a CPA Certificate and a Permit to Practice Certified Public Accounting! One professional organization to consider becoming a member of is the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). This national organization provides continuing professional education and development opportunities, networking prospects, professional guidance, and discounted office and shipping items. Delaware also has some professional accounting societies definitely worth becoming a member of The Delaware Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants – Delaware Chapter.
Think about concentrating in a sub-discipline of accounting. Specializations that exist in Delaware include general accounting, business accounting, accounting technology, international accounting, accounting information systems, auditing, federal tax accounting, management accounting, and financial statement analysis. With the state’s business-friendly reputation, you can also explore long term investment strategies for corporations and pursue positions as an enrolled agent working with out-of-state corporations to manage their tax mitigation and local interests.