The AIA practising certificate entitles you to operate in public practice and 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.
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, and verify clients’ income in support of mortgage applications and other financial affairs.
If you have held your membership for two and a half years continuously and are in public practice, you are eligible to apply for an AIA practising certificate. The certificate entitles the holder to additional benefits and those wishing to apply should contact Membership Services. If you are in practice you must be in possession of a practising certificate issued either by AIA or by another recognised body.
The annual cost for an AIA practising certificate in 2019/20 is £310, payable in addition to your membership subscription.
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 £10.2m 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.
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.
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.
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.
To obtain a practising certificate, you must have been an AIA Associate or Fellow member and post-qualification gained two 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:
- Financial Accounting
- 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.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) provides cover for practitioners against claims for professional negligence or loss through fraud or dishonesty. Having adequate PII is a mandatory requirement and if you hold an AIA practising certificate you must obtain a minimum level of insurance cover. It is your responsibility to obtain adequate cover with a reputable insurance company or underwriter.
When applying for a practising certificate you need to provide evidence that you have appropriate indemnity cover for claims against you arising out of your professional work, this cover must be in force for the period for which the certificate is intended to be valid. The insurance must include two years’ retroactive cover for liabilities arising from circumstances not known at the time the policy was first taken out. You must ensure that your relevant insurance documents are available for inspection by AIA at any time.