Professional Accounting Firm

Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) Registrations Requirements

Professional accounting firms (PAFs) are registered in Alberta under the Varied Registration Model. This model provides clarity for clients and prospective clients on the types of services that a PAF can perform and will follow the standards set for PAF registrations (including licensure in some provinces) across the country. The Varied Registration Model contains four categories, which are designed to capture and accommodate the various and unique types of PAFs currently in existence:

  • Audit
  • Review
  • Compilation
  • Other regulated services (including public accounting practice services)

Any Chartered Professional Accountant who is providing or offering to provide any services listed under professional accounting services or public accounting services in the Chartered Professional Accountants Act (CPA Act) is required to do so through a registered professional accounting firm (PAF). If a member is solely providing business valuation or insolvency services, they must do so through a registered professional service provider (PSP).

The PAF PSP Decision Model flow chart will assist members in identifying which services would require registration with CPA Alberta.

The first step in the registration process is to assess the member's eligibility to register a PAF in accordance with the requirements as established in the CPA Alberta Directives.

The education and practical experience requirements for the PAF Varied Registration categories can be found here.

As a means of assessing a member’s eligibility to register a PAF, the member must complete the Professional Accounting Firm New Applicant Assessment form and submit by email to PAF@cpaalberta.ca. In some circumstances, the Practical Experience Verification (PEV) form(s) may also be required in order to complete the assessment (see PEV information). If you are unsure if this is required, email PAF@cpaalberta.ca.

Please note: Process time for PAF assessments is between four (4) to eight (8) weeks, depending on the volume of assessments received by CPA Alberta.


CPA Alberta PAF Frequently Asked Questions

Ongoing Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) Requirements

Within any given PAF, different CPAs may be able to provide different services. CPA Alberta must assess any member who may be responsible for an entire accounting engagement or issue any reports, statutory filings or submissions related to any professional accounting or public accounting services on behalf of the firm. The assessment is used to determine the member’s eligibility to provide these services based on the requirements outlined in the Varied Registration Model. It is subsequently the firm’s responsibility to ensure only qualified members provide services to clients based on the assessments provided by CPA Alberta. This is important if, or when, the firm promotes members to new roles or adds partners to the firm.

Bringing a new partner on board

A registered professional accounting firm that is bringing a new partner on board will need to ensure the partner has met the Varied Registration Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course). Each new partner will need to complete a Change in Responsibility assessment form and the firm must ensure the form is submitted to CPA Alberta offices in a timely manner.

Promoting a CPA to partner within an existing firm

A registered professional accounting firm that is promoting a CPA from within the firm to partner will need to ensure the potential partner has met the Varied Registration Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course). Each new partner will need to complete a Change of Responsibility assessment form. The firm must ensure the form is submitted to CPA Alberta offices in a timely manner.

CPAs with responsibility for an entire accounting engagement in a specified area of practice

A registered professional accounting firm that is adding a new (or promoting an existing) CPA to have responsibility for an entire accounting engagement will need to ensure the CPA has met the Varied Registration Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course). Each new CPA to this role will need to complete a Change in Responsibility assessment form. The firm must ensure the form is submitted to CPA Alberta offices in a timely manner.

Planning to change firms

When a CPA is changing from one professional accounting firm to another, and is taking on the role of a partner, proprietor, or a CPA who has responsibility for an entire accounting engagement in a specified area, the member will be required to meet the Varied Registration Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course). In some cases, the course may have previously been taken, and will not need to be repeated—the CPA will need to complete a Change of Employment assessment form and have it submitted it to CPA Alberta offices by their new firm (employer) in a timely manner.

Returning to public practice after time away

If a CPA is returning to public practice in the role of partner or proprietor, or returning as a staff CPA who will have responsibility for an entire engagement, then the CPA must ensure that they meet the Varied Registrations Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course). The CPA will need to complete a New Applicant or Change of Responsibility assessment form (depending on whether they are becoming a partner of an existing firm or establishing a new one) and have it submitted it to CPA Alberta offices by their firm or prior to receiving a professional accounting firm application (as applicable).

CPA who trained outside of public practice

CPAs who fall within one of the above mentioned scenarios and who obtained their practical experience outside of public practice, will have to obtain the minimum practical experience in professional or public accounting practice before they will be eligible to register a professional accounting firm or become a partner of an existing firm. In these cases, changing career paths will require the CPA to meet the Varied Registration Model requirements (including completion of the Overview of Public Practice course) post-designation.

More information on a firm’s responsibilities and ongoing registration requirements can be found in the Practitioners Guide information booklet.

Renewing a Professional Accounting Firm (PAF)

All Professional Accounting Firms must renew their registration with CPA Alberta for each registration year (October 1 to September 30) by November 30 of each year.

  • Renewal deadline: November 30
  • Penalty assessed: December 1
  • Suspension of registration: December 31
  • Cancellation of registration: March 2

Renewals must be completed online through your CPA Alberta Firm Portal.

Ceasing a Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) Registration

A member may cease or de-register his/her professional accounting firm (PAF) registration at any time. To do so, please complete the Professional Accounting Firm (PAF) De-registration form. The completed form may be submitted by email to PAF@cpaalberta.ca.

Please note that most professional liability insurance (PLI) policies are written on a 'claims-made' basis — this means that the insurance policy only provides coverage for claims made while the insurance is in force. If a claim is made after a policy lapses (despite having PLI in place when the work was performed), insurance coverage is not provided.

Accordingly, CPA Bylaw 802 mandates that every designated member of a PAF that ceases a practice must ensure that the PAF, or its successor, carries professional liability insurance for at least six (6) years following such cessation.

Additionally, be informed that ceasing your professional accounting firm (PAF) registration does not cease your professional corporation (PC) registration. These are two separate registration entities and therefore two separate processes. For more information on ceasing or de-registering your Professional Corporation (PC) with CPA Alberta, please click here.

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