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.
  • Conducting charity independent examinations.
  • Signing off documentation supporting loans and mortgage applications with 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.

  • Be a current member of good standing at either Associate or Fellow level.
  • Is a fit and proper person in accordance with IFA Bye-law 5.
  • Have submitted a completed application for a practising certificate to the IFA including payment of prescribed fees.
  • 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 1 July 2022 you may not meet the IFA's educational entry requirements. Your accounting qualification should be equivalent to the IFA Direct education programme.
  • As part of the educational requirements you must have studied UK tax and UK law. If you have studied tax or law as part of an international degree you will be required to provide either equivalent qualifications based on UK tax and UK law to the units provided in IFA Direct or undertake the tax and law units provided in the IFA Direct programme. If you have received exemptions from another accountancy professional body for their respective law and tax units you will be required to provide evidence of the source of the exemption for us to confirm the eligibility of these exemptions into the IFA framework and they will need to based upon study of UK tax and UK law. 
  • 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 practising certificate. 
  • Must be practising in the UK offering accountancy services to the public.
  • Must undertake to be compliant with the requirements of the IFA Bye-laws, Membership regulations, Public Practice regulations and the IFA's Continuing Professional Development Regulations. 
  • Must be able to provide an alternate for arrangements of incapacity or death as outlined in the Public Practice Regulations.
  • Must understand and apply the Fundamental Principles set out in the IFA's Code of Ethics. 
  • Must be supervised under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 by an appropriate supervisory authority. Where you are supervised by the IFA as a member firm you must also complete an online firm return before supervision is confirmed.
  • Must have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover as outlined in the Public Practice Regulations.

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 units.

IFA Direct is our 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 education programme you can email our Education team at [email protected] or call on +44 (0)20 3567 5999 to find out more.

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.

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. 

IFA UK membership & practising certificate application form

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.