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Special entrant route for the Audit Qualification (AQ)

Author: Professional Standards Department

Published: 09 May 2023

In this article, find out what criteria will be recognised by ICAEW for overseas auditors seeking to gain the Audit Qualification (AQ) under the special entrant route.

ICAEW and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have recently formalised and updated guidelines for overseas auditors looking to gain the Audit Qualification (AQ) under the special entrant route for those progressing towards responsible individual (RI) status in the UK.

The special entrant route allows ICAEW to recognise up to 12 months of non-UK experience or up to 24 months of UK experience towards the 36 months’ practical experience required for the AQ. This would therefore leave applicants with either 24 months or 12 months of practical experience to be gained within an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer going forward. Applicants are also required as a minimum to pass the Ethics Learning Programme, the Certificate Level Principles of Taxation and Law exams, as well as the three Advanced Level exams: Corporate Reporting, Strategic Business Management, and the Case Study.

This enhanced recognition is only available to those who have held audit signing rights in their home country and are supported by their current firm on the route towards RI status. Applicants must also provide a detailed CV and summary of their audit work experience as well as CPD records for the past 12 months. Please refer to our article, Credit for prior work experience (CPWE) as a special entrant applicant, for the full eligibility criteria and application process.

Although the recognition available here goes above and beyond that available under normal registration routes, it remains limited by the requirements of the Companies Act. The Act only allows full recognition of overseas qualifications and experience towards the AQ where a comprehensive review of the qualification has been carried out by the FRC and a reciprocal recognition agreement has been signed with the regulators in that third country. We are, however, continuing to emphasise to the government and the FRC the need for more comprehensive audit qualification recognition agreements for overseas auditors as we are aware this is an increasingly important issue in the current UK audit market.

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