5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Puerto Rico
- Earn the Right Degree
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Puerto Rico
- Satisfy Experience Requirements
- Get your Puerto Rico CPA License
- Continuing Education in Puerto Rico
1. Get Your Education
a. Request information from schools offering online accounting programs in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Board of Accountancy requires all CPAs to have completed 150 semester hours of education and hold a bachelor’s degree.
b. Verify that the Junta Examinadora de Contadores Públicos Autorizados (JECPA) approves your degree granting institution. Your institution or program has to be accredited by one of the national or regional agencies listed on the US Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
If your education is from a foreign college or university, have NASBA International Evaluation Services perform a foreign credential evaluation and send its findings directly to NASBA’s CPA Exam Services, which is responsible for determining exam eligibility for Puerto Rico’s CPA candidates:
CPA Examination Services at CPAES – Puerto Rico Coordinator
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469
c. Enroll in the necessary classes. A bachelor’s degree from a JECPA approved college or university is required:
- Sign up for a minimum of 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of college education including:
- At least 38 semester/57 quarter credit hours in accounting subjects
- At least minimum of 32 semester/48 quarter credit hours in accountig and general business subjects, such as (but no limited to) finance, economics, business law and information systems
- Earn at least a 2.0 GPA in business and accounting courses
- Courses taken at community colleges or two-year college are acceptable
- Correspondence, CPA review courses and online courses are acceptable if you received credit for them at an institution approved by JECPA and they appear on your official transcript
If you are in the last semester of completing your bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours, and have completed 38 hours in accounting courses with a 3.0 GPA, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Licensure cannot occur, however, until you fulfill the complete education requirement. An official transcript and a Certificate of Enrollment will need to e submitted to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) at the time you apply for the exam.
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Once you have met the educational requirements above, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam in Puerto Rico provided that you also meet the following criteria:
- You are a resident of Puerto Rico, are employed in Puerto Rico, or have a place of business in Puerto Rico
- You are at least 21 years old
- You have never been convicted of a major or minor crime involving moral deprivation
- You ask the Puerto Rico Police Department to submit a certificate of good conduct (called a Certificado Negativo de Antecedentes Penales”) to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) on your behalf
- You must be a U.S. citizen or submit a statement of intention to become a U.S. citizen with your application
a. Have your college or University send official transcripts directly to NASBA at:
CPA Examination Services (CPAES) – Puerto Rico Coordinator
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469
If your school offers official electronic transcripts, they may submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
b. Complete NASBA’s online application
c. Complete the Character Reference Affidavit (completed and notarized by two references) and to be sent with your application.
d. Send your completed application packet along with the $145.00 registration fee and exam fees for the sections of the exam you intend to take to the address above. Include the following items as applicable:
- If you need special accommodations while taking the exam, include the ADA modification form
- If you have credits from a foreign institution, have the credential evaluation agency send the evaluation directly to CPAES
- If you are a re-examination candidate, registration fees vary between $115 and $175 depending on how many sections are you taking
e. Wait to receive the Notice to Schedule (NTS). If you selected email, the NTS would be sent from email@example.com. Make sure you have added this email address to your approved senders list so the NTS arrives in your inbox. If you don’t receive NTS within 4 weeks of paying for the first time application, contact CPAES at firstname.lastname@example.org.
f. Visit Prometric to schedule the exam. As a qualified Puerto Rico candidate you can take the exam in any U.S. state or jurisdiction.
g. Prepare for your exam sections and report to the exam site 15 minutes before the scheduled testing time.
h. View your scores online once they are tabulated. They can be accessed using your section ID number and date of birth. The section ID number is located on your NTS. When you have passed all four sections of the exam, CPAES will send you a congratulatory letter with further instructions on how to obtain your license in Puerto Rico.
For more thorough information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Satisfy Experience Requirements
As of July 2013, all candidates for CPA licensure in Puerto Rico must have one year of full-time or three years of part-time accounting experience. This experience must meet the following criteria:
- Consist of at least 1820 hours
- Be obtained in public accounting, academia, industry or private practice
- Be obtained under the supervision of an active CPA who is in good standing
4. Obtain the CPA License
After passing the entire Uniform CPA exam and completing Puerto Rico’s experience requirement, you are only a few steps away from obtaining your Puerto Rico CPA license.
a. Check that so far, you have:
- Completed education requirements of at least 150 undergraduate semester hours with 32 semester hours in accounting, and 38 semester hours in general business courses. Have your school(s) send official transcripts directly to CPAES.
- Provided two character references with your application
- Passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam
b. Apply for the CPA license in Puerto Rico after you receive the congratulatory letter from CPAES on passing the entire Uniform CPA exam along with instructions on accessing the license application. As of January 1, 2014, all licensure applications must be submitted online through NASBA. Instructions on necessary fees and any documentation you may need to mail in will be provided.
Obtaining your Reciprocal CPA License
If you hold a license from another state where CPA requirements are substantially equivalent to Puerto Rico (which, as of July 2014, includes all states and jurisdictions in the United States except the Virgin Islands), and you don’t have a principal place of business in Puerto Rico, you may be granted a reciprocal CPA license in Puerto Rico. You must meet the following requirements:
- Present a Certificado Negativo de Antecedentes Penales by the Puerto Rico Police Department and a certificate of good conduct by the jurisdiction in which you were originally licensed
- Present verification of active CPA licensure in any and all jurisdictions that are substantially equivalent to Puerto Rico
- Submit verification that you have completed 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) within three years of submitting your Reciprocal CPA Application in Puerto Rico. Three of these credits must be in professional ethics of CPAs.
- Have at least five years of experience in public accounting (with 1800 hours per year) outside of Puerto Rico within the past ten years before submitting your application
- Submit a Certificate of Compliance with ASUME
- Mail all documentation to NASBA Licensing Services – Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 198589, Nashville, TN 37219. Contact NASBA at email@example.com or (866) 350-0017 for further information.
- Once NASBA has approved your information for a reciprocal license, obtain a certificate of membership of the Puerto Rico CPA Society. This is mandatory under Puerto Rico law. Contact Maria T. Laboy at the Puerto Rico CPA Society at (787) 754-1950 to obtain the certificate.
If you hold a CPA equivalent chartered accountant designation from a foreign country where the requirements are substantially similar to Puerto Rico’s, you can apply for reciprocal licensure and use the CPA designation. You must be a U.S. citizen, under Puerto Rico law, and pass the International Qualification Exam (IQEX). Puerto Rico follows NASBA’s mutual recognition agreements for those who are licensed with:
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Instituto Mexican de Contadores Publicos
- Chartered Accountants Ireland
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
5. Keeping Your License Current through Continuing Professional Education
All licensed CPAs are required to attain 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) every three years in order to renew their licenses.
- 40 of the 120 CPE hours must be earned in auditing, taxes and accounting subjects
- 12 of those 40 CPE hours must e in accounting and auditing
- 3 of the 120 CPE hours must be in professional ethics of CPAs
- The remaining CPE hours can be taken from the following subjects:
- Practice management
- Information systems
- Quantitative methods
- Labor law
- Commercial law
- Courses taken from the following subjects may not exceed 24 CPE hours:
- Sales of securities
- Public relations
- Behavioral sciences
All Puerto Rico CPA licenses must be renewed online through NASBA. Licenses are valid from August 1 through December 1, every three years. You must apply and pay for your renewal before December 1 of the year your license will expire.
The authorized sponsors of CPE programs in Puerto Rico are:
- Universities and colleges approved by the Council of Higher Education of Puerto Rico
- The Society of Certified Public Accountants of Puerto Rico and all its Chapters
- All sponsors registered with NASBA and AICPA.
- Puerto Rico government associations and agencies
You may contact Puerto Rico Board with specific questions about CPE at 787-722-4816.
Now that you’re a CPA in Puerto Rico
Congratulations! Now you’re a licensed Puerto Rico CPA!
After celebrating you might want to consider joining the professional organizations that promote public accounting on a legislative level and that also provide networking, professional advancement and continuing education opportunities. AICPA is the national level organization that represents CPAs and their professional interests. Or you may want to consider joining the local Puerto Rico CPA Society, known as the Collegio de Contadores Publicos Autorizados de Puerto Rico.