PRACTISING CERTIFICATES

The AIA practising certificate entitles you to operate in public practice; sign or generate reports, accounts, certificates or tax returns concerning any person’s financial affairs, whether you are an unincorporated body, sole trader or a firm.

“I chose the AIA as a professional body as it offered the support I needed to be in practice. The international element is also extremely useful to my overseas clients.”

With an AIA practising certificate you can accept an appointment as an independent examiner; promote yourself as an accountant being available to the public to sign or generate reports, accounts, certificates or tax returns; communicate with HM Revenue & Customs, banks and other financial institutions on behalf of clients, including the completion of a tax return, verifying clients’ income in support of mortgage applications and other financial affairs.

REGULATION

In addition to holding a practising certificate governed by a recognised qualifying body and a prescribed accountancy body in Ireland, there are a number of other regulatory benefits to holding an AIA practising certificate.

MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS 2007

Under the regulations of the 3rd EU Anti Money Laundering (AML) Directive all external accountants must be supervised for anti money laundering purposes by a designated supervisory authority. HM Treasury awarded AIA supervisory status for its members in the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, which came into effect on 15 December 2007 and monitors all its practising members.

INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION OF CHARITIES

AIA is included in the Charities Act 2011 in the list of bodies whose members are able to act as independent examiners for the accounts of charities with an annual income of up to £500,000. Guidance relating to independent examiners can be downloaded from the AIA website where additional useful links are also provided.

BUSINESS GROWTH SERVICE

The Business Growth Service (now incorporating GrowthAccelerator and Manufacturing Advisory Service) is a government-backed service offering support to businesses with the potential to improve and grow. The Business Growth Service can help SMEs to achieve their business goals by identifying barriers to growth and providing tailored support that fits their needs. This support includes coaching, consultancy, mentoring, training, access to finance and export advice.

ATOL REPORTING ACCOUNTANTS' SCHEME

AIA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have signed an agreement that enables members to register under the ATOL Reporting Accountants' scheme. The scheme has been developed by the CAA in order to help improve the standard of ATOL reporting and to provide assurance that financial information which is submitted on behalf of ATOL holders is accurate. It is designed to ensure that designated accountants of participating bodies are sufficiently knowledgeable about both the industry and specific requirements of ATOL to provide the required assurance needed by the CAA.

UK/SWISS TAX AGREEMENT

AIA is included as a relevant professional body per Article 4(1) of the UK/Swiss tax agreement, which states:

A Swiss paying agent may only accept a relevant person as a non-UK domiciled individual when provided with a certificate produced by a lawyer, an accountant or a tax adviser who is a member of a relevant professional body confirming that the relevant person is not domiciled within the United Kingdom and has claimed the remittance basis of taxation for the relevant tax years.

LICENSED ACCESS 

AIA members in practice in the UK are licensed to instruct barristers directly. The licence holder can instruct any member of the Bar for advice, and in some circumstances representation, on their own behalf or another's behalf in the specialist area.

The Licence permits AIA UK practising members to instruct the Bar directly for advice and for representation before the County Court, Crown Court, Magistrates Court, First-Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber, First-Tier Tribunal Tax Chamber, Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber and Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber.

A copy of the Licence is stored in the AIA Secure Document Library in the 'Members in Practice' section and must be sent to counsel with each set of instructions.

UK VISAS AND IMMIGRATION

AIA is recognised under UK Visas and Immigration guidance allowing members to provide accountants' evidence for Tier 1 (General) immigration applications and are also included in the policy guidance for Entrepreneurs coming to the UK under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) of the Points Based System.

The full guidance for Tier 1 (Entrepreneurs) is here.

The full guidance for Tier 1 (General) is here.

SCOPE

The issue of an AIA practising certificate provides authorisation for you to engage in public practice, offering accountancy and related services to sole traders, partnerships, limited companies and small charities. Companies under the small companies regime with a turnover up to £6.5m are not required to have a statutory audit. As a holder of an AIA practising certificate in the UK you are eligible and permitted to provide reports on accounts of such companies. A practising certificate will not entitle the holder to carry out statutory audits, insolvency work or conduct investment business. These areas of accountancy work are regulated areas and are restricted to appropriately qualified individuals who have been authorised or licensed to undertake the work by a professional body.

DURATION

AIA practising certificates are issued for a period of up to one year and are renewable annually on 1 October. The application form, along with the relevant documents, must be completed annually by this date to re-affirm eligibility.

JURISIDICTION

The jurisdiction of the practising certificate extends only to the country in which you have been trained and where you have taken examinations in the local laws.

EXEMPTION

AIA understands that some members may undertake accounting work for friends, families and charities. You are not required to hold a practising certificate for such work as long as the following stipulations are met:

  • The accounts are not required to be audited in line with accounting standards;
  • No fee or other material benefit is paid to you for the work.

This exemption is designed to allow you to use your skills and knowledge to assist family and friends and to make a contribution to your local community and charities. It is not an entry route into public practice and you must not produce letterhead purporting to be a practising firm in connection with this work, or advertise your services. It must also be noted that if you undertake such charitable work you are still liable for claims for professional negligence. You must carefully consider whether you should take out professional indemnity insurance.

ELIGIBILITY

To obtain a practising certificate, you must have been an AIA Associate or Fellow member for two and a half years continuously and post-qualification gained two and a half years’ work experience at a sufficiently high level with a statutory auditor or an accountant in public practice. This post-qualification experience must be recorded and include professional conduct, internal review and management and business assurance together with experience in at least three of the following main categories of work:

  • Auditing
  • Financial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Financial Management
  • Management Accounting
  • Information & Communication Technology

If you have trained in a specialist area of public practice, such as forensic accounting, then you must have completed five years’ experience in the specialist field(s) in which you intend to work. Two years of this experience must be post-qualification.