If your firm wishes to carry out regulated work (audit, local public audit, probate and estate administration, insolvency, DPB Investment Business, DPB Consumer Credit), you can apply to ICAEW to be authorised. This page provides further details about the application process and what we need to approve your application(s).
Providing the correct information
Before you or your firm submit an application, it’s really important to review the eligibility criteria and how aspects such as the structure of your firm and voting mechanisms may affect eligibility. Links to this information are set out below.
The eligibility criteria and other compliance requirements are drawn up to protect the public interest and ensure competence. Our role in assessing applications is to ensure that the criteria and requirements are met.
When you are ready to submit an application to us, its also really important to use the correct version of the application form, fill it in accurately and fully and pay the right fee. This ensures we have all the correct information at the start of the process.
Due to the in-depth checking process, please allow 8-12 weeks for your application to be processed.
We are here to help. If your firm is restructuring or you have a deadline in mind, please contact us as early as possible in the process. The email address for the regulatory applications team is email@example.com.
Please note that we are currently experiencing an unprecedented number of applications across all regulatory areas. Because of this, applications are on average taking closer to 12 weeks to complete.
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 If you apply using an out-of-date form, we will ask you to re-submit the application using the correct forms.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.
ICAEW employees continue to work from home in line with the current government restrictions. As a result, any postal correspondence sent to ICAEW’s offices may not be dealt with promptly. To ensure we can process your application as efficiently as possible, all correspondence is by email only. Please also use email when replying to our queries. Our group email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
How we assess your application
All applications are processed in the strict order they are received and go through the following workflow:
- Initial review.
Each application is initially reviewed by a member of the Regulatory Support team. An advisor may contact you with questions on your application (eg, if any part of the application is missing or incomplete, if signatures do not meet the requirements, if we need to take payment of fees relating to the application etc). The advisor will gather all supporting information to allow the application to proceed to the next stage.
- Detailed assessment.
The application will then be reviewed and allocated to a case manager for a detailed assessment. The case manager may contact you, and in some cases, will have detailed questions on your application. It is likely these questions will relate to matters such as the firm’s compliance with the eligibility criteria, your breadth of experience, the adequacy of your CPD and/or any concerns that were found during the initial processing stage.
- Decision stage.
- Once all queries have been resolved, the application will reach the decision stage. The case manager (alongside other senior colleagues, if necessary) will determine if the application can be approved by staff or if it needs to be referred to the relevant regulatory committee for a decision.
- Staff have delegated authority to approve certain applications, provided no issues are found during the initial processing and detailed assessment stages. However, if the case manager concludes that the application cannot be approved under this delegated authority, it will need to be considered at the next meeting of the relevant regulatory committee (the timing of which could be several weeks away).
- If your application does need to be considered by the committee, the case manager will outline the timetable to you, and you will be given the opportunity to submit written representations before the meeting takes place. You will also be given a full copy of the committee papers covering your application and a detailed decision letter will be sent after the meeting date.
- Approval of applications.
- If your application is approved (either by staff or the committee), we will send you a formal letter confirming the terms of approval. The letter will also confirm the date from when your registration or licence is effective.
- If the committee rejects your application, we will send you details of the process you can 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.
Applications for voluntary withdrawals
If you wish to voluntarily withdraw from a regulated service currently held with ICAEW, please complete the online form.
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
The application forms and guidance
The correct versions of the forms and further guidance for each regulatory area are listed below.
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’.
Please make use of the following resources to ensure you are up-to-date with the latest regulatory information and news: