In 2006, it became law that in order for anyone to hold themselves out as a CPA to the public in Illinois, they must have an active license or registration with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Failure to maintain an active registration or license with IDFPR while using the CPA designation in an active manner may result in IDFPR issuing a "cease and desist" order, and the person may be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and fined. There is also a CPA(Inactive) category described below for those wishing to use the CPA designation in an inactive manner.

Anyone not having applied for a registration before June 30, 2012 or obtaining the CPA credential after June 30, 2012 is required to obtain a full CPA license, as the Registered CPA category is no longer available to 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 taken from an approved sponsor)
  4. Are exempt from the requirement to take an Annual Federal Tax Refresher course to participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program.

Licenses are renewed on a three-year cycle set by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the licensing body for CPAs in Illinois. The current renewal cycle ends Sept. 30, 2021.

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").

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
  4. Are not exempt from the requirement to take an Annual Federal Tax Refresher course to participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program. IRS Letter regarding Registered CPAs.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation stopped accepting new applications for the "Registered CPA" category on June 30, 2012. All active registrations as of that date will be grandfathered and renewable for life.

Registered CPAs have to renew every 3 years with IDFPR in order to stay in compliance. The last renewal cycle ended Sept. 30, 2018, and the next renewal cycle will end Sept. 30, 2021.



The purpose of the "CPA(inactive)" title is to allow CPAs who do not perform accountancy activities but wish to continue using the CPA title to continue to do so provided they use "CPA(inactive)." It may be used for CPAs to continue volunteer services with charities and nonprofit organizations. It will allow for service on a volunteer board providing 1) the term CPA(inactive) is used, 2) appropriate disclosures to the board and respective committees are made regarding the CPA(inactive) designation, and 3) the service is not as an Audit Committee Financial Expert as defined in Section 407 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act.

A licensed or registered CPA whose license is active and unencumbered must notify IDFPR in writing to request that their license or registration be placed on an inactive status, thus allowing the use of CPA(inactive). CPA(inactive)s are excused from payment of renewal fees. The license or registration can always be restored from the inactive status by completing the proper restoration applications with IDFPR along with payment of applicable fees and completion of CPE for licensed CPAs.

CPA Certification and Licensure Brochure (PDF)


Questions, comments, feedback

Jill Loeser
Manager, Government Relations | 312.517.7671