Use of the Title

An individual cannot use the title “CPA” unless the individual obtains and continues to hold an active License.

Licensing requires qualification by a Board of Accountancy. The general criteria for qualification are:

  • A high level of college and university Education
  • Successful completion of the Uniform CPA Examination
  • A level of work place Experience
  • Meets the requirements for good character.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a license status granted by Boards of Accountancy in the United States that permits an individual to offer or perform professional services to the public AND use the restricted title “Certified Public Accountant (CPA).”

“Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)” is a Canadian individual license status for qualified individuals eligible to perform public accounting services in Canada. Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants must qualify and obtain a Washington State license if a Canadian individual offers or performs public accounting services for individuals or enterprises located in Washington State.

CPA-Inactive is a restricted title use status. Individuals holding the status CPA-Inactive cannot practice public accounting or use the title certified public accountant (CPA) and must refer to themselves as a CPA-Inactive on a business card, letterhead, or any other document published or transmitted through electronic media in the same font size as the title.

Each of the forgoing status’ (Licensed CPA or CPA-Inactive) have renewal requirements every three years.

The status lapses if the holder fails to qualify for renewal.

Individuals whose license or CPA-Inactive certificate has lapsed, lose the right to use any one of the restricted titles. For a lapsed CPA licensee, the privilege to offer or perform professional services as a licensee is restricted until the individual is approved for reinstatement by the Board.

CPA-Retired is not a license status. CPA-Retired is a Board permitted designation granted to those licensees who meet the requirements of Board Rule, WAC 4-30-058. An individual qualifying for this designation is restricted from the practice of public accounting and the use of the restricted titles CPA or CPA-Inactive.

The question of title use can be confusing. Please do not hesitate to call the Board office at (360) 753-2586 if you have any questions.