How to obtain an IFA practising certificate


Among the many benefits of being in practice are: 

  • Recognition for the accountancy and taxation services you provide to the public.
  • Providing evidence for Tier 1 and family visa.
  • Conducting charity independent examinations.
  • Signing off documentation supporting loans and mortgage applications with more than 35 banks and building societies.
  • Appearing on our Find an Accountant register.
  • Obtaining a CAA-ATOL returns licence (further study may be required).

IFA practising certificate criteria

To offer accountancy services to the public for reward in the UK you are required to obtain an IFA practising certificate. To apply for an IFA practising certificate you must meet the following criteria.

  1. Be a current member of good standing at either Associate or Fellow level.
  2. Have achieved IFA membership through an educational route approved by the IFA and be able to provide evidence of this. Please note, if you obtained membership before the 30 June 2018 you may not meet the IFA’s educational entry requirements. Your accounting qualification should be at least up to and including level 6. 
  3. Have not less than three years’ UK experience in at least three of these main areas: financial accounting, management accounting, assurance, taxation and/or data processing. The experience must have been gained within 10 years of applying for a practicing certificate.
  4. Must be practising in the UK offering accountancy services to the public.
  5. Must undertake to be compliant with the requirements of bye-law 8 (continuing professional development) and the IFA’s Continuing Professional Development Regulations.
  6. Must undertake to comply with the Public Practice Regulations included in the annual practice return to the IFA.
  7. Must understand and apply the Fundamental Principles set out in the IFA's Code of Ethics.
  8. Is a fit and proper person in accordance with bye-law 2 (membership);
  9. Must have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover as outlined in the Public Practice Regulations.
  10. Must be supervised under Money Laundering Regulations 2017 by an appropriate supervisory authority.
  11. Have submitted a completed application for a practising certificate to the IFA including payment of prescribed fees.

What if I don't meet the educational entry requirements?

Where your qualification does not meet our requirements you will need to take IFA Direct programme modules.

IFA Direct is the new educational route to membership and obtaining a practising certificate. It enhances the student and member experience by giving you a broader and deeper understanding of key subject matters relevant to you as an accountant in or supporting small businesses.

If you have any questions about the IFA Direct programme you can email our Education team or call on +44 (0)20 3567 5999 to find out more.

How to apply for an IFA practising certificate

If you meet the above criteria download the application form and follow the instructions. If you are an existing member you only need to complete sections B-H. 

Membership practising certificate and firm supervision application form 2021

Practising without a practising certificate

It is a disciplinary offence for a member to offer accountancy services to a third party unless he/she holds, or is exempted from holding, an IFA practising certificate.
It is also a criminal offence under the UK Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the UK Money Laundering Regulations 2017 to offer such services without being registered with a designated supervisory authority for anti-money laundering.

Important documents for practising members

If you have any questions about the application form or process you can email our Membership team or call on +44 (0)20 3567 5999 to find out more.