The ACCA Practising Certificate is a prestigious qualification for accountants in public practice. It signifies expertise, ethics, and adherence to high standards set by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the certificate, the requirements, and handy tips during the application.
Knowing what to submit can be overwhelming, but with the help of this guide, we’ll help you get your Practising Certificate in no time.
Let’s get started!
What is an ACCA Practising Certificate?
The Practising Certificate is a certification issued by ACCA according to the Chartered Certified Accountants’ Global Practising Regulations 2003 . It serves as proof that a member has achieved relevant experience and skills to qualify as a Chartered Accountant.
Applying for a practising certificate from ACCA is necessary for these scenarios:
- You are planning to set up your own practice
- You are joining a firm as a director or partner
- You are working in the UK, Zimbabwe, Ireland, or Australia, or if there are local requirements to carry an ACCA practising certificate 
What is an ACCA Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification?
The Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification is offered by ACCA to an appropriately qualified individual wishing to be responsible for audit work in the UK, Ireland or Zimbabwe.
You will be required to have a practising certificate and audit qualification if:
- You would be responsible for signing audit reports in the UK or Ireland
- You would like to have a statutory auditor status in the UK or Ireland
A practising certificate and audit qualification is essential for applying to global opportunities. Being ACCA-certified gives you visibility to employers seeking high-level credibility when it comes to performing audit work.
Why is a Practising Certificate Needed for Work in The Public Sector?
Offering services to the public comes with a high level of responsibility, as any negligence on your part can result in significant losses for your client. Examples of such negligence could include failure to prepare accounts accurately, flawed valuations, missing important deadlines and carrying out audits incorrectly.
Because of these risks, only people who meet certain criteria and have a practising certificate can provide services to the public. By regulating this activity, consumers can complain to the accountants' regulatory body if something goes wrong. They may also be able to get compensation through the compulsory professional indemnity insurance policy or, if available, a compensation scheme.
How to Obtain a Practising Certificate
There are separate requirements to become eligible for an ACCA Practising Certificate and for an ACCA Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification.
For ACCA Practising Certificate
To be able to apply, you must show completion of the following training requirements:
- Three years of supervised experience with an ACCA-approved employer. You can check out their list of approved employers in the ACCA directory.  You would then complete an Approved Employer PCER confirmation form. Or
- Three years of supervised experience with an employer that would be eligible to register as an ACCA-approved employer. However, you must complete Parts 1 and 2 of the PCEF.
- Two years post-membership experience or an equivalent of 3080 hours of work
- You must be supervised by a qualified individual (Practical Experience Supervisor)
For ACCA Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification
For the Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification in the UK or Ireland, a qualified individual should be able to achieve the following:
- Three years of experience under the supervision of an ACCA-approved employer, two of which must be post membership
- Experience must be recorded in the Approved Employer PCER confirmation form and part 3 of the PCEF
- Experience administered by a qualified individual
- Minimum of 1540 hours (44 weeks) of audit training within 3 years. For the UK, 22 of these weeks must be in statutory audit work, and for Ireland, the full 44
- Successful completion of the UK or Irish variants of the following papers:
- Corporate and Business Law (LW)
- Taxation (TX), Strategic Business Reporting (SBR) and
- Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
For individuals who registered for ACCA qualification after 1st of January 2016, you must also:
- Complete all relevant Strategic Professional exams within 5 years from the time you completed the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills level exams
- Complete all relevant Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills level exams within 5 years of becoming eligible to sit for these exams
Are There Any Exceptions?
Effective 1st of January 2022, individuals who have already earned three years of experience with a registered ACCA Approved Employer Practising Certificate Development (PCD) stream are exempted from completing parts 1 and 2 of the PCEF forms.
The member and their qualified training principal must only complete the Approved Employer PCER confirmation form with the primary member information, dates, and brief summary of how the mandatory competencies listed in the forms were achieved.
The same is also allowed for Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification. Instead of completing PCEF1 and 2, only the third part of the audit work is required to show audit competencies, client sizes and sectors, and monthly reviews.
Both exemption processes are still subject to the ACCA authorisation team’s assessment, just like every Practising Certificate application.
Other Important Points To Remember
- The PCEF contains examples in the guidance notes to demonstrate behaviour and activities. These notes will assist you in filling up your PCEFs. Note that you need to have separate PCEFs for each approved employer and each period of employment that covers the experience you obtained.
- Members who are already recording a practising certificate training record (PCTR) but could not complete them by 31st of December 2020 should transition to the PCEF forms.
- Support your experience with detailed narratives, principal reviews, statements of achievements and time summary of hours claimed. Submission of documentary evidence that lays out the job description, work objectives, relevant activity details, and other written statements proving the trainees carried out their roles to meet performance objectives.
- The cost for taking the ACCA practising certificates is £564, as of 2023, renewed annually every 31st of December.
Let VIVA help you
If you are still on your way to obtaining your practising certificates, watch out for the launch of our premium ACCA courses.
Simply subscribe to our mailing list for FREE here to stay updated on great early bird discounts, free ACCA webinars, and more. We will also be offering video lectures, live sessions with our expert tutors, practice questions and downloadable course notes for the best ACCA learning experience.
- Chartered Certified Accountants’ Global Practising Regulations 2003
- ACCA Global
- Approved Employer Directory