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When do I need a practising certificate (PC)?

You need an ICAEW practising certificate (PC) when you engage in public practice.

What does 'engaging in public practice' mean?

Different types of work count as engaging in public practice and they are set out in annexes one to three of the ICAEW statement on engaging in public practice.

Regulations and guidance relating to practice was amended with effect from 1 January 2008 to make clearer the situations when a PC is needed and when it is not. In some cases, you now need an ICAEW practising certificate when you didn't before; for example, if you are a non-client-facing principal in a corporate practice.

Members who provide accountancy services, or act as auditor where a registered auditor is not required, to small non-profit making bodies on a gratuitous basis or for a nominal sum MAY in certain circumstances fall outside the scope of engaging in public practice and, therefore, may not require a practising certificate. Please consult the detail of ICAEW statement on engaging in public practice, in particular paragraph 19.

What if we don't use the description 'chartered accountants'?

If you're a principal and you engage in public practice, you need a practising certificate whatever you call yourself and your firm.

You need a practising certificate whether or not:

  1. You use the ICAEW logo;
  2. You call yourselves chartered accountants; or
  3. You have a PC from another professional body such as the ACCA or CIOT
  4. Even if you do not undertake work in any of the regulated areas.

If you're a member of ICAEW and engage in public practice, you need an ICAEW practising certificate.

The only exception to this regulation applies to individuals who are members of both ICAS and ICAEW, or both ICAI and ICAEW. They are allowed to hold a single practising certificate from their 'home' body.

Non-UK residents

For those resident outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland and Crown Dependencies, ICAEW has set out its requirements for holding a PC in a flowchart. 

Ring Advisory Services for advice

Sometimes members intend to give up their ICAEW practising certificate but don't realise they still need one.

It's important that if you need advice, you get it from a single source - Advisory Services.

If you're not sure whether you need an ICAEW practising certificate or whether you can relinquish your practising certificate, please call Ethics Advisory Services on +44 (0)1908 248 250.