Licensing & Registration
2013 Illinois Public Accounting Act FAQs
Anyone obtaining the CPA credential after June 30, 2012, will be required to obtain a CPA license from Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) in order to hold themselves out as a CPA to the public in Illinois in any way. The Registered CPA category is no longer available for new applicants.
Licensed CPAs (1) may use the "CPA" designation, (2) can perform accountancy activities, (3) must complete 120 hours of CPE every three years (including 4 hours of ethics) and (4) are exempt from the IRS requirements for the Registered Tax Return Preparer designation.
An individual license and a license for all firms are required. An individual license is all that is required for a sole practitioner, unless the firm name suggests the firm consists of more than one person (such as "and associates" or "and company").
New Applications for Registered CPAs are Closed.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) stopped accepting new applications for the "Registered CPA" category on June 30, 2012. All active registrations as of June 30th will be grandfathered and renewable for life.
Actively Registered CPAs (1) may use the "CPA" designation, (2) can perform accountancy activities except for attestation services (audits and reviews), (3) do not have a CPE requirement and (4) are not exempt from the IRS requirements for the Registered Tax Return Preparer designation (exam and education requirements)
Registered CPAs have to renew every 3 years with IDFPR in order to stay in compliance. The most recent renewal cycle ended Sept. 30, 2012. The next renewal cycle ends Sept. 30, 2015.
The IDFPR licenses persons who have received an Illinois CPA certificate (Search for CPA Certification) and who have had at least one year of full-time experience, or its equivalent, providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. Experience may be gained through employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice, and is not required to be acquired under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
IDFPR also licenses “by endorsement” individuals who have a valid CPA certificate and/or license from another jurisdiction that’s substantially equivalent.
If you wait more than 4 years after receiving your Illinois CPA certificate to apply for a license, you will need to have completed 90 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application for licensure.
Download a license application.
CPAs and firms licensed as Public Accounting (PA) Firms must renew their CPA licenses every three years. Firms licensed as Professional Service Corporations (PSC) must renew their licenses annually. Approximately 90-120 days before the licensure deadlines, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will send each licensee a postcard announcing that online renewals are open. If the licensee does not renew online from the post card, they receive an additional mailing with a renewal form to either renew online or send back by mail. Licensees are encouraged to renew early to avoid possible processing backlogs.
CPA Individual License (Must complete 120 hours of CPE, including 4 hours of ethics)
Sept. 30, 2015
Public Accounting (PA) Firm License
Nov. 30, 2015
Professional Service Corporation (PSC) License
Jan. 1, 2015
CPAs who are licensed in Illinois are required to have 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credit during each three-year period, and four of the 120 hours must be in ethics education. There are two types of activities for CPE: verifiable CPE offerings (those given by organizations that are sponsors of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, see below under "CPE Sponsor Organizations") and non-verifiable CPE offerings--can be up to 60 hours worth (see below under "New Non-Verifiable Activities for CPE Credit.") There are also restrictions on how many hours may be earned through self-study courses, authorship of books and articles, and teaching. See Rules for the Administration of the Illinois Public Accounting Act, Section 1420.70 or download the ICPAS CPE Requirements grid for a summary of CPE requirement rules. CPAs are exempt from CPE requirements for their first renewal.
Verifiable CPE and CPE Sponsor Organizations
For verifiable CPE, courses must be taken from sponsors registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) or the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
The Illinois CPA Foundation (ICPAF) is an approved sponsor. A sponsor that has been approved by another state’s regulatory agency for CPE credit in that state may or may not be acceptable in Illinois. An individual should obtain proof of the sponsor’s registration with IDFPR or NASBA (i.e., their sponsorship number) prior to taking any courses from a CPE sponsor other than ICPAF. Proof must also be submitted, if requested by the IDFPR, in the form of certificates of attendance, which are issued for each CPE course by the sponsor.
CPE Sponsor Lookup
The IDFPR website provides a search of organizations that are registered as approved sponsors.
- Under Select a Profession choose: “CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCT CPE SPONSOR".
- In the LAST NAME field, type the exact name of the organization (i.e. Illinois CPA Foundation - not Illinois CPA Society).
Register as a CPE Sponsor Organization
License Look Up
The IDFPR provides a search of their database of all licensed professionals in Illinois.
Other States Licensing Requirements
For licensing requirements for states other than Illinois, visit the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website.
For further information
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Public Accounting Section
320 W. Washington Street, Third Floor
Springfield, IL 62786
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Complaint Intake Unit
100 West Randolph Street, Suite 9-300
Chicago, IL 60601
File a Complaint
The Department's Chicago office handles ethics complaints and investigation.
Questions, comments, feedback contact:
Jill Loeser, Manager, Government Relations
217.789.7914 or 800.572.9870 (Illinois only)