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Audit experience and the Audit Qualification FAQs

Frequently asked questions about Audit experience and the Audit Qualification (AQ).

Where can I find out more information about recording audit experience and the Audit Qualification?
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  • You can find information on the Audit Qualification (AQ) at icaew.com/aq.
  • If you are a student in an ACA training agreement and are gaining audit experience, please read the FAQs in this section as they will help you.
  • For ACA students in a training agreement (and their employers) we have created a 30 minutes recording which explains the Audit Qualification and what students need to do to record their audit experience. Listen to webinar recording.
Does AQ only apply to students training in UK?
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No. Although it could be extremely difficult for students studying outside of the UK to gain some of the necessary elements of the practical audit training without spending time in the UK.

For example you would need to have worked in a firm of registered auditors for a period of two years in a country where the audit work has been deemed by the UK Government as being comparable to that of audit in the UK. To date, the UK regulator has confirmed that audit work undertaken in a firm of registered auditors in the following countries may count towards the UK audit requirements:

  • Germany (experience gained after 11 October 2000)
  • Cyprus (experience gained after 7 May 2010)
  • Luxembourg (experience gained after 7 May 2010)
  • The Netherlands (experience gained after 7 May 2010)
  • The Crown Dependencies (experience gained after 4 April 2011) – additional restrictions apply. See later question in this section ‘I am studying for the ACA in Jersey/Guernsey/the Isle of Man. Can I get the Audit Qualification?’

Further information is available at icaew.com/aq.

The important point to note is that the UK Audit Qualification will only really be useful for those working in the UK, or those who are intending to work in the UK later in their career. Each country has its own rules on audit, and it is important that you understand the rules of the country that you are working in.

Is the Audit Qualification necessary for ICAEW students to complete?
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No. Audit work experience is not a mandatory element of the ACA. However if you are undertaking your ACA training agreement in a firm of registered auditors it would be in your interest to record any audit experience you gain, as holding the Audit Qualification (AQ) may help you in your future career.

I am studying for the ACA in Cyprus / Luxembourg / The Netherlands. Can I get the Audit Qualification?
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It is possible for you to gain the Audit Qualification (AQ). You must ensure that you meet all of the requirements, and you may only count work experience gained after 7 May 2010 towards statutory audit work, which is when the Secretary of State in the UK assessed that the law and practice with respect to the audit of accounts is similar to that in the UK.

So, if you can demonstrate you have:

  • Completed three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
    • two years was in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE
    • within this timeframe, you must have achieved 240 days of audit experience, of which at least 120 days must meet the definition of statutory audit experience

All of the information must be captured in the Audit Qualification application form, and signed off appropriately. We would accept a QPRT in Cyprus / Luxembourg / The Netherlands who holds Cypriot / Luxembourgish / Dutch signing rights for audit reports as appropriate to sign off your audit experience.

I am studying for the ACA in Jersey / Guernsey / the Isle of Man. Can I get the Audit Qualification?
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It is possible for you to gain the Audit Qualification (AQ). You must ensure that you meet all of the requirements, and you may only count work experience gained after 4 April 2011 towards statutory audit work, which is when the Secretary of State in the UK assessed that the law and practice with respect to the audit of accounts is similar to that in the UK.

So, if you can demonstrate you have:

  • Completed three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
    • two years was in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE
    • within this timeframe, you must have achieved 240 days of audit experience, of which at least 120 days must meet the definition of statutory audit experience

Statutory audit work in the crown dependencies only includes the audit of 'market traded companies'.

All of the information must be captured in the Audit Qualification application form, and signed off appropriately.

You can find more information and the application form at icaew.com/aq.

I gained audit experience in a firm of registered auditors, but now I work in a different firm. Can I count my audit experience from my previous employer towards the AQ?
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Assuming they were an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) at the time when you gained this experience, then you would need to go back to your previous employer to get the audit experience you gained with them appropriately signed off (by the qualified person responsible for training / QPRT of the organisation). If you are unable to get your audit experience signed off by your last employer, unfortunately any previous audit experience you gained cannot be counted towards the AQ and you will need to start recording your audit time with your new employer.

Who can sign off my audit experience on the Audit Qualification application form?
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You should read the notes on the application form carefully, and ensure that the correct person has signed off the form. The employer comments on your competence on pages 4–6, and pages 8–10 can be signed by an audit manager or an audit partner, as approved by your QPRT/PRT or Deputy QPRT. The page where you record the number of days, page(s) 3 and/or 7, must be signed by your QPRT/PRT or a Deputy QPRT.

If you are unsure who in your organisation holds these titles, please speak to your HR team.

I’ve lost my audit form. What should I do?
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You should attempt to reconstruct your records and get the time signed off appropriately again. ICAEW cannot award the AQ where it has not been clearly demonstrated that the practical or examinable elements of the audit qualification have been met. Please keep your form safe, and have it signed off at each six month review. You can continue recording work experience after you have qualified, so you may be completing the form for many years.

Can I apply for the AQ after I have finished the ACA? Is there a time limit after which it has been too long since I took my exams?
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Yes, you can apply. There is currently no official deadline for the recognition of audit experience.

I do not work for an auditor, can I get the AQ once I have finished my ACA training and gained some experience from another employer?
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Yes, you can gain the necessary audit experience with a future employer post-qualification as long as that employer is an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE), and is a firm of registered auditors.

If I am at the end of my ACA training agreement and qualify as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, but do not have any audit experience, can I work on gaining audit experience with a registered auditor and apply for the AQ after ICAEW membership?
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Yes. You can gain your audit experience any time from registering as an ACA student and can continue to gain experience once you are qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. However you must ensure that the environment in which you are gaining the experience is:

  • An ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE)
  • A firm of registered auditors
  • Can supply the minimum 240 days audit experience required to gain the AQ
  • Can supply you with at least 120 days of statutory audit work

Once you are outside of your training agreement you will need to still ensure you gain sign-off for your audit experience on the AQ application form every six months.

What experience qualifies as audit experience? For example, is it only fieldwork, or can experience be claimed for updating audit files where I was not conducting the fieldwork?
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If the work is vital to the completion of the audit opinion, which may in some cases involve some filing, then this may count towards your 240 days. If however the work conducted will not contribute to the audit opinion or to the eventual signing of the audit report then this would not count as audit work.

How many days do I need for the Audit Qualification (AQ)?
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You will need to have completed:

  • Three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
    • two years must be within a firm of registered auditors
    • you must gain at least 240 days audit experience (at least 120 days of which must be in statutory audit work)

Further guidance is at icaew.com/aq.

For the AQ will I need 240 days or 120 days audit experience
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You must have completed an appropriate period of work experience:

  • During the combined periods of approved training and post-qualification work experience you must have completed a minimum of three years’ general training and work experience. At least two of these three years must have been completed within a firm of registered auditors.
  • During the combined periods of approved training and post-qualification work experience you must have completed a minimum of 240 days of audit work experience within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) which is also a firm of registered auditors.

Of this 240 days work experience:

At least 120 of the 240 days must be in statutory company audit work as defined in the Companies Act 2006, and the rest must be in either statutory audit work or other audit work similar to statutory audit work.

Statutory audit work (120+ days required):

The basic definition is work on the statutory audit of UK companies. However, the Act allows for the recognition of some overseas company audit work where it appears to the UK’s Professional Oversight Board (POB) that the law and practice [of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom] with respect to the audit of company accounts is similar to that in the United Kingdom. The judgment required by POB relates to the territory as a whole, rather than to any specific audit work performed.

POB have deemed that individuals within the following countries or territories may gain statutory audit experience from audit registered firms (experience may only be gained from the date specified, any experience gained before this date will not be accepted):

  • From 11 October 2000: Germany
  • From 7 May 2010: Cyprus, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
  • From 4 April 2011: Some audit work conducted in the Crown Dependencies - there are additional restrictions, so please refer to the question ' I am studying for the ACA in Jersey/Guernsey/the Isle of Man. Can I get the Audit Qualification?'

Experience from other countries or territories is not currently accepted as ‘statutory audit work’, but may count under work similar if it meets the conditions below.

Other audit work:

In summary, other audit work (work similar) would be all other (ie, not UK company) audits completed under ISA’s or solicitors accounts rules. I would recommend that if in any doubt you should document the experience within the application form narrative, and we will query this if necessary with you or the applicant during processing.

Please read the definitions in the Audit Qualification accompanying guidelines carefully before completing the form at icaew.com/aq.

I gained membership of ICAEW via a reciprocity agreement with my home body. Can I get the Audit Qualification?
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You will need to speak with our support team as there are likely to be additional requirements for the award of the AQ.

If you do not already hold audit rights in your home country you are likely to:

  • Sit and pass at least the three ICAEW Advanced Stage examinations.
  • Complete up to an additional three years of work experience which meet the requirements of the Companies Act:
    • Completed three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
      • two years was in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE
      • within this timeframe, you will need to have gained 240 days of audit experience, of which at least 120 days must meet the definition of statutory audit experience.

We cannot retrospectively award credit for prior work experience for your two years in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE, OR the 240 days of audit experience.

You may be able to claim up to 12 months of the 36 months general experience if you have been working in an ICAEW ATE over the last 12 months, and your employer is happy to support your AQ application.

If you can demonstrate that you do hold audit rights with your home body and can demonstrate considerable experience in UK audit then we can apply for additional credit on your behalf with the regulator. However, the regulator will only grant this in very exceptional circumstances to those who have demonstrated vast audit experience in addition to their existing professional membership each year.

If you are considered eligible under this route, you would still as a minimum need to:

  • Sit and pass at least the ICAEW final Case Study examination.
  • Complete up to an additional three years of work experience which meets the requirements of the Companies Act:
    • Completed three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
      • two years was in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE and
      • within this timeframe, you must have achieved 240 days of audit experience, of which at least 120 days must meet the definition of statutory audit experience.

We cannot retrospectively award credit for prior work experience for your 240 days of audit experience. You may be able to claim up to 24 months of the 36 months general experience if you have been working in an ICAEW ATE which is also a firm of registered auditors over the last 24+ months, and your employer is happy to support your AQ application. This route is only available to senior audit professionals, who hold audit rights in their home country.

Please contact our support team for further information on studentsupport@icaew.com or +44 (0)1908 248 250.

I am a CIMA/CIPFA/ACCA member who joined ICAEW through the Pathways to Membership scheme. Can I get the Audit Qualification?
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It is possible for you to gain the Audit Qualification with ICAEW, but you will need to speak with our support team as there are likely to be additional requirements for the award of the AQ.

You will be required to undertake additional examinations and meet further work experience requirements. You may only count work experience gained after your admittance to ICAEW membership, and this must meet the criteria set out below which meets the requirements for awarding the audit qualification in the Companies Act. As a minimum you need to:

  • Sit and pass at least the three ICAEW Advanced Stage examinations, and any other modules that ICAEW deem necessary to meet the requirements of the Companies Act.
  • Complete up to an additional three years of work experience which meets the requirements of the Companies Act:
    • Completed three years within an ICAEW authorised training employer (ATE) of which:
      • two years was in a firm of registered auditors which is also an ICAEW ATE and
      • within this timeframe, you must have gained 240 days of audit experience, of which at least 120 days must meet the definition of statutory audit experience.

Your completion of the Pathways ‘Examination of Experience’ will not enable you to get any credit against the final admitting Case Study examination. You will need to sit the Case Study (and the other Advanced Stage exams) to be eligible to apply for the AQ.

All of the information must be captured in the Audit Qualification application form, and signed off appropriately. For more information go to icaew.com/aq.

I am an employer. We encourage all students to record audit experience and apply for AQ. Do you ever see the situation where only those with the AQ can be involved in audit work?
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It is difficult to answer this question, but we are not aware that this is the intention in the future.

Once I am qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, when would I be able to apply for a practicing certificate?
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You need to have been an ICAEW member for two years to be eligible for a practising certificate. If you are already an AAT member or a qualified member from an approved professional accounting body, then please contact our helpline for more information. More details on the practising certificate are at icaew.com/pc.