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Regulatory applications

This page provides details about the application process for firms wishing to carry out regulated work and what we need to approve your application(s).

Regulatory applications and firm structure changes - please plan ahead

ICAEW is implementing a new records management system. As the new system goes live, there may be some disruption to our usual processing times. If you or your firm is considering a new regulatory application or change (e.g., to the structure of your firm or to your own registration record), please contact regulatorysupport@icaew.com at the earliest opportunity. Please note, you must notify us of any changes to the structure of your firm within 10 business days of the change.

Providing the correct information

Due to the in-depth checking process, please allow 8-12 weeks for your application to be processed.

There are some steps you can take to ensure the application is processed as quickly as possible:

  • Please make sure you send us everything we request on the form from the outset.
  • Please provide as much detail as possible on the application form and supporting documentation.
  • Reply to our queries as soon as possible.
  • Please make sure you are using the very latest version of the relevant application form. Links to these are set out below. If you apply using an out-of-date form, we will ask you to re-submit the application using the correct forms. We are not able to start processing your application until we receive the updated application.
  • We always need additional time to assess the eligibility of firm applications relating to a change in structure, business combinations (or separations) or firms with complex ownership arrangements. Please factor this in when making your application. It is also very helpful in these cases to include a detailed covering letter or email with your application to explain the background.
  • If your application is due to a change of legal entity (eg, incorporation of a partnership to a limited company, transfer from sole-trader to a multiple-member LLP etc.) please remember that none of the registrations held by the original firm will transfer to the new practice. You must reapply for every registration and licence that the new firm wishes to hold. Also, the new firm will not be able to undertake any regulated work in these areas until these applications are approved by us.
  • We will not approve your application unless you have paid the appropriate fee. Please therefore pay all fees promptly, when requested.

Please note, we carry out checks with all other professional or supervisory bodies the firm or individuals have been connected with. Unfortunately, we cannot influence how quickly these bodies may take to reply to us. The UK recognised supervisory bodies use their best endeavours to respond to such requests within a month from receipt of the request from us.

The application forms and guidance

The correct versions of the forms and further guidance for each regulatory area are listed below.

Please email your applications to regulatorysupport@icaew.com. If you have any questions regarding your application, please call +44 (0)1908 546 302.

Signatures on application forms

Our forms are designed to be completed using Adobe and require a certified digital signature to be added where indicated. We also accept digital signatures which have been added using software such as DocuSign but please also submit the DocuSign authenticity certificate to allow us to validate the signatures.

Alternatively, you can manually sign the forms and send us a scanned image of the signed page(s).

We will reject any forms where signatures have been ‘snipped’ or where uncertifiable images are typed or copied and pasted onto the forms.

What happens after you have submitted your application form

All regulatory (audit, responsible individual, investment business, probate, local public audit and Licensed Practice scheme (ATOL)) applications received by ICAEW are processed in the strict order they are received and go through the following internal workflow.
  • Stage 1 - triage

    The application(s) is/are acknowledged, and a preliminary assessment is conducted to evaluate if:

    • the most up-to-date version(s) of the application form(s) has been completed, along with submission of the supporting documentation specified on each application;
    • signatures meet our requirements. We will reject any forms where signatures have been ‘snipped’ from another document or where unverifiable images are typed or copied and pasted onto the forms;
    • a registration fee is payable; and
    • a check with another professional or supervisory body is required.
  • Stage 2 - regulatory support review

    A regulatory support advisor will gather all supporting information to allow the application to proceed to Stage 3. The advisor may contact the firm with any queries, which could include (but not limited to) the following;

    • the payment of fees relating to the application(s);
    • a check of the eligibility criteria and compliance with the relevant regulations for each application being made;
    • a regulatory and/or disciplinary check on firm and each applicant; (Please note if the individual is a member of another professional or supervisory body, then additional time may be necessary to obtain this information); and
    • follow-up on points raised during Stage 1.
  • Stage 3 - case manager review

    Once all queries have been resolved in Stage 2, the application(s) will be passed to a case manager who will:

    • Conduct a detailed review of the information submitted and consult with a senior manager if necessary.
    • Liaise with the firm or applicant in respect of any supplementary evidence or clarification required to complete the review of the application(s).
    • Determine if the application(s) can be approved under delegated authority by staff.
    • If the application cannot be approved, the case manager will explain the full reasons why the application(s) cannot be approved under delegated authority by staff and, in these circumstances, why the matter will be referred to the relevant regulatory committee for a decision (please note the timing of this meeting could be several weeks away).
  • Stage 4 - approval (under delegated authority by staff)

    If the application(s) can be approved under delegated authority by staff

    • the applicant will receive an email from the case manager to confirm that the application(s) has been approved;
    • the application(s) will be returned to the Regulatory Support team to finalise and they will issue the official approval letter to the applicant. This letter will set out the terms of the approval and provide details of any undertakings imposed, if applicable;
    • ICAEW systems and the relevant external register will be updated; and
    • ongoing monitoring will be carried out by the case manager if undertakings were imposed.
  • Stage 5 - committee review

    If the application(s) needs to be considered by one or more of the regulatory committees, the case manager will:

    • request written representations to support the application(s);
    • prepare a recommendation to the committee, based on the application(s) and responses received from the firm;
    • provide the firm with a full copy of the committee papers;
    • ask for any additional representations the firm wishes to make to the committee; and
    • outline the timescales of the next available committee meeting(s).

    If the committee approves the application(s), a detailed decision letter will be sent which will set out any conditions and/or restrictions that were imposed by the relevant committee. Ongoing monitoring will be carried out by the case manager to ensure the firm complies with the decision made by the relevant committee.

    If the committee rejects the application(s), the firm will be provided with details of the process to follow to ask for the committee’s decision to be reviewed.

Continue to ensure your firm is meeting the eligibility criteria once registered

Firms must maintain compliance with the eligibility criteria once registered. We strongly recommend that you put in place mechanisms within the practice to check this and to think about whether there are any changes you need to tell us about.

Firms and individuals that don’t keep ICAEW informed – such as changes to the composition of a firm, or a move into a new regulated area – could put your licence at risk or your firm may even be liable for financial penalties that could sit on your disciplinary record. It is important that you don’t wait until your firm’s annual return is due to tell us about any changes. For example, if a firm fails to notify changes to its structure within 10 business days, it will be in breach of the Practice Assurance Regulations.

Changes in firm structure – please tell us within 10 business days

It’s important to maintain your firm record accurately. An inaccurate or out of date firm record may constitute a misdescription of your firm. It could also lead to regulatory or disciplinary action.

Fee scales

Additional guidance

Use of the ‘Chartered Accountants’ description

The Use of Description Chartered Accountants Regulations set out when a firm may describe itself as ‘Chartered Accountants’. They also set out the procedural rules for a principal who is not a chartered accountant who must become a general affiliate. Please use this guide to determine if your firm can use the description ‘Chartered Accountants’.

Stepping into the regulatory sphere

Members setting up in practice for the first time or firms moving into new areas of regulated work need to comply with a range of requirements, rules and regulations. Some of these requirements, rules and regulations apply across the board for all firms. Others depend on the types of work you intend to carry out, for example if you want to practise in areas specifically regulated by law such as audit, probate, investment business and insolvency. The ICAEW Professional Standards Department has put together a series of articles offering insights, advice and tips from our Quality Assurance and Regulatory Practice teams to help you navigate the process and avoid common pitfalls.

Applications for voluntary withdrawals

If you wish to voluntarily withdraw from a regulated service currently held with ICAEW, please complete the online form.

Standing data changes

We have a series of forms you should use to tell us about changes to principals, offices, trading names, ownership structure and regulatory contacts.  Please complete the relevant form(s) and email to regulatory.support@icaew.com

Mergers, acquisitions and other business changes

If your firm is going through a merger, acquisition or other business change, then depending on how the transaction is structured, the firms involved may inadvertently become ineligible for the regulatory registrations currently held. However, if you give us sufficient notice of the business changes, we can explain what your firm needs to do to ensure continuity of its registrations, including ongoing anti-money-laundering supervision and eligibility to continue using the description, Chartered Accountants. Also, if changes are needed to the proposed ownership structure for the firm to remain eligible for regulatory registration, if it usually easier and simpler to do this pre-completion, rather than once the transaction has been executed.

We will therefore need full details of the transaction to make sure each firm’s record is updated, and to allow us to check the new structure complies with the eligibility criteria for each regulatory registration currently held.

Our mergers, acquisitions and other business changes form sets out the information we need to know whenever a firm’s ownership or structure changes. The completed form should be emailed to regulatory.support@icaew.com and if you have any questions while completing the form please call us on +44(0)1908 546 302 for assistance.

If your particular transaction does not easily fit into the questions on the form, please fill in as much of the form as possible and provide an accompanying letter of email explaining the transaction in full detail.

Useful links

Please make use of the following resources to ensure you are up-to-date with the latest regulatory information and news: