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Eligibility for Pathways to Membership

To join ICAEW via Pathways to Membership, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. You will need to be a fully qualified member of ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, MICPA, HKICPA*, ISCA CPA Australia or AICPA. You must be based outside the UK (ie, living and working outside the UK) and have a minimum of five years' full membership and post-qualification experience in an accounting and/or business environment.

(Please note that Pathways to Membership is no longer open to UK-based applicants. This includes those in the Channel Islands and Crown Dependencies).

*Individuals who joined HKICPA as members from the Association of International Accountants (AIA) prior to 1 June 2008 are not eligible to join ICAEW under the Pathways to Membership programme.

Applying for ICAEW membership through the Pathways to Membership scheme is based on an Examination of Experience. This is an examination which you do in your own time (it is not taken in a formal exam hall) and requires you to answer a series of questions relating to the professional experience you have gained in the last five years. The Examination of Experience application form must be supported by a sponsor who needs to be an ICAEW member.

You need to register your interest in Pathways to Membership to apply. Once you have registered, you will have access to:

  • The application pack
  • Application guidance notes
  • Sample scripts
  • Hints and tips from examiners
  • A free workshop and/or free webinar

Can I apply?

To be eligible to apply under the Pathways programme you must be one of the following:

  • A full member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • A full member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • A full member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • A full member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • A full member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
    (HKICPA)*
  • A full member of CPA Australia
  • A full member of the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)
  • If you are a full member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) - you may be eligible to apply, please refer to icaew.com/iscapathways for all information relating to Pathways for ISCA members.

Membership must have been gained through the normal examination and training route. We do not accept membership obtained through reciprocity agreements, full credit/exemption schemes or similar schemes with another accountancy body.

*Individuals who joined HKICPA as members from the Association of International Accountants (AIA) prior to 1 June 2008 are not eligible to join ICAEW under the Pathways to Membership programme.

You must also:

  • Be based outside the UK (ie living and working outside the UK)
  • Have a minimum of five years’ full membership (achieved in full by the date of the Pathways submission deadline) and relevant post-qualification experience in an accounting and/or business environment
  • Have complied with the CPD requirements of your existing professional accountancy body
  • Provide us with a letter (issued and dated within the last three months prior to the relevant Pathways submission deadline date) from your current professional body(ies):
    (1) Confirming the date you gained membership AND that this membership was gained by the normal education and training route (to evidence this, you may need to ask for transcripts)
    (2) Confirming that you have a good disciplinary record, no outstanding complaints against you and that they know of no ethical or other reason why you could not be admitted to ICAEW
    (3) Advising us of the details of any disciplinary record or outstanding complaint(s) and confirming that there is no further ethical or other reason why you could not be admitted to ICAEW, and
  • That you are compliant with their continuing professional development (CPD) regulations 
  • That you are compliant with their continuing professional development (CPD) regulations, and
  • Have an eligible sponsor to support your Pathways application (see below for full criteria)
  • HKICPA, ISCA, AICPA and MICPA members who join ICAEW under the Pathways to Membership scheme must maintain their home body membership
Support by a sponsor

Your application for membership must be supported by a sponsor. The role of the sponsor is to verify that the information provided by you in the application form and the answers to the Examination of Experience are accurate and a true representation of your work.

The sponsor must complete the sponsor form in the application form.

Your sponsor must fall into one of the following categories and meet the full sponsor eligibility criteria. Please read this information carefully as you cannot apply without having an eligible sponsor to support your application.

A) An ICAEW Chartered Accountant

To serve as sponsor, this ICAEW chartered accountant must:

  • have been an ICAEW chartered accountant for at least five years (achieved in full by the date of the Pathways submission deadline);
  • have worked with you for at least three years of the last five years (achieved in full by the date of the Pathways submission deadline) and have detailed knowledge of your work by working closely with you during this time;
  • have a good disciplinary record; and
  • be compliant with ICAEW continuing professional development (CPD) regulations.

B) A member of a body with which ICAEW has a current reciprocal membership arrangement

(CAI, CICA, HKICPA, ICAA, ICAS, ICAZNZICA or SAICA) AND who is eligible for ICAEW membership under the relevant reciprocal membership agreement

To serve as sponsor, this person must also:

  • Have been a member of that body for at least five years (achieved in full by the date of the Pathways submission deadline);
  • Have worked with you for at least three of the last five years (achieved in full by the date of the Pathways submission deadline) and have detailed knowledge of your work by having worked closely with you during this time;
  • Provide us with a letter of good standing from the reciprocal body that qualifies them to act as sponsor confirming:
    • membership and date admitted to membership;
    • membership has been gained by the normal training and education route (sponsors may need to ask for transcripts from their home body to evidence this);
    • that they have a good disciplinary record, no outstanding complaints against them and that the professional body knows of no ethical or other reason why they could not be admitted to ICAEW or advising us of the details or any outstanding compliant(s); and
    • they are compliant with the continuing professional development (CPD) regulations of the professional body
  • This letter must be issued and dated within the three months prior to the relevant Pathways submission deadline.

*The bodies with which ICAEW has a current reciprocal membership arrangement listed below.

  • CAI – Chartered Accountants Ireland
  • CICA – Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • HKICPA – Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public
  • Accountants
  • ICAA – Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
  • ICAS – Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • ICAZ – Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe
  • NZICA – New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • SAICA – South African Institute of Chartered Accountants

C) Where the applicant works in an organisation that is an ICAEW ATE, the QPRT or the PRT who is responsible for the ATE where the applicant works can serve as sponsor.

ATE: Authorised Training Employer

QPRT: Qualified Person Responsible for Training

PRT: Person Responsible for Training

  • This sponsor does not need to know or have known the applicant directly but they must complete sufficient due diligence to be assured that the information provided by the applicant in the application form and the answers to the Examination of Experience are accurate and are a true representation of the work of that applicant. This due diligence will include discussing the application with the applicant’s line manager.
  • This sponsor must be of good standing. Therefore, where the QPRT/PRT is not an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, they will need to provide a letter of good standing from their current home professional body. This must be issued and dated within the three months prior to the relevant Pathways submission deadline and must confirm:
    • membership and date admitted to membership;
    • that they have a good disciplinary record, no outstanding complaints against them or advising us of the details of any disciplinary record or outstanding complaint(s); and
    • they are compliant with the continuing professional development (CPD) regulations of the professional accountancy body.
  • This letter must be issued and dated within the three months prior to the relevant Pathways submission deadline.
  • This QPRT/PRT must have been in post as a QPRT/PRT for the ATE where the applicant works for a period of at least 12 months.

Can a family member act as a sponsor?

A family member of the applicant is not necessarily disqualified from acting as a sponsor, as long as they satisfy all the required criteria for being a sponsor. This relationship must be declared on the sponsor form.

Penalties for sponsors

Anyone acting as a sponsor and found to have testified in an inappropriate manner, for example not doing sufficient due diligence to verify that the evidence provided by you is accurate, will be liable to investigation and possible disciplinary or regulatory action.

What happens if my sponsor doesn't meet the standards required of them?

Individuals cannot serve as a sponsor for your Pathways application unless they meet the full sponsor criteria.

Practising Certificate

You must also apply for an ICAEW practising certificate if you:

  • Are or wish to act as an insolvency practitioner
  • Are or wish to act as a responsible individual for audit
  • Are a sole practitioner of accountancy services within the European Community
  • Are a principal (partner, director or member of a limited liability partnership) of a firm offering accountancy services to the public within the European Community

You will need to hold an ICAEW practising certificate even if you hold one issued by another professional accountancy body.

For more information on Practising Certificates and regulations, please go to icaew.com/pc.

For full details, please refer to the Pathways to Membership application pack.

Auditing in the UK

Statutory audit is a strictly regulated area of work in the UK. Membership of ICAEW does not confer auditing rights, and members who do not hold an appropriate qualification and RSB (recognised supervisory body) registration cannot sign a UK statutory audit report.

Your existing qualification, and the route that you took to get it, will determine whether you can obtain an appropriate (ie, audit) qualification with ICAEW.

For more information on the Audit Qualification, please visit icaew.com/aq.

For full details, please refer to the Pathways to Membership application pack.

Please contact our membership advisers on +44 (0)1908 248 250 or email pathways@icaew.com if you require any further guidance or advice on this route to membership.