CPA practice mobility allows CPAs in good standing in one state to gain practice privileges in another state without applying for an additional license. In short, CPA mobility helps reduce barriers to retaining and serving clients in multiple states.
This is particularly relevant to regional firms and larger practices that expand and inevitably look to take on clients from surrounding states. It also allows CPAs and public accounting firms to more seamlessly serve clients with businesses that operate in more than one state.
The concept of CPA mobility differs from CPA license reciprocity in that mobility allows license holders in one state to freely solicit and service clients from other states without additional or new licensure. CPA license reciprocity is required when CPAs move their principal place of business to another jurisdiction. Because CPAs must declare a home jurisdiction, moving a CPA practice to another jurisdiction requires a new, reciprocal license specific to the new location.
The CPA Uniform Mobility System
In 2006, the AICPA and NASBA spearheaded a national initiative that called for the adoption of a uniform mobility system. Through this uniform mobility system, which is a provision of the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA), CPAs are now able to provide services across state lines.
To date, CPA mobility (see the CPA Mobility Map) has been enacted in the majority of U.S. jurisdictions, with the exception of: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (which will be enacting it in May 2015), Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands (initiatives for adopting CPA mobility in these other jurisdictions are in the works). Also, CPAs in Georgia and Massachusetts may only participate in CPA mobility with certain specific jurisdictions.
The UAA regards jurisdictions as being “substantially equivalent” if they require CPAs to:
- Complete 150 credit hours with a bachelor’s degree
- Complete at least one year of practice as a CPA
- Successfully pass the Uniform CPA Examination
The AICPA and NASBA have developed a free online tool, called the CPA Mobility Tool, which allows CPAs and accounting firms to understand CPA mobility and ascertain whether CPA mobility applies to them.
How to take Advantage of Interstate CPA Mobility
mobility allows CPAs to engage in no-notification interstate practice if they are licensed in a home jurisdiction that is determined to be substantially equivalent to the new jurisdiction in which they wish to practice. To date, this covers 49 states and Washington D.C.
Provided their principal place of business (home jurisdiction) remains unchanged, CPAs interested in practicing in another substantially equivalent jurisdiction may exercise their practice privileges without submitting any fee, notice, or application. In other words, no notice or notification is necessary to serve clients in other states with substantial equivalency.
However, CPAs interested in retaining and serving clients in another CPA mobility jurisdiction should keep in mind that they:
- Must comply with the law and board rules of the jurisdiction
- Have the burden of demonstrating their eligibility to exercise the privilege during an investigation or other proceeding
- Must cease practicing (notifying the state board by mail, telephone, in person, or any other electronic means) in the jurisdiction if they no longer satisfy the requirements for eligibility
CPAs who want to determine their right to practice in another U.S. jurisdiction can use the CPA Mobility Tool. This free, online tool allows CPAs to enter their current jurisdiction, the jurisdiction in which they want to practice, and the type of public accounting services they will be providing in order to gain valuable information about practice privileges outside of their home jurisdiction.
CPA Mobility Requirements: Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a CPA license in each state where I practice?
Under the UAA mobility provision, a new license is not necessary, provided a CPA has a license in good standing from their home state. The only exception to this is firms, which may have to register in the reciprocal state, depending on the services being performed.
I want to move to a new state and begin practicing there. Does CPA mobility apply?
If a CPA moves to a new state, they will need to obtain a license for their new home state. CPA mobility only applies to those that do not move their principal place of business to another state.
I am a CPA practicing in a jurisdiction deemed non-substantially equivalent. Now what?
NASBA can evaluate individual CPA qualifications for the purpose of mobility. NASBA’s Substantial Equivalency Evaluation report is accepted as verification in most jurisdictions.