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  • Practising Certificates are valid for the calendar year or the balance of the calendar year for which they are issued and must be applied for annually after the initial grant.

    What does ‘Practice’ mean? 

    Practice is the provision of services including accounting and related services for which the relevant skills have been acquired by a member by reason of his or her training and qualification, to persons other than his or her employer.

    A member engages in practice when he or she provides or holds him or herself out to provide such services to the public either personally or through a firm.

    Examples of some of the more common reasons for requiring a Practising Certificate include:

    • Becoming a principal in an accountancy firm;
    • Independently offering accountancy or related services to the public;
    • Being an insolvency permit licence holder; or
    • An employee responsible individual under the Audit Regulations.

    The Practising Certificate does not of itself convey the right to practice in the reserved areas of insolvency or audit.

    We can help advise you if you need a PC

    It is important that you consider whether you need a PC and obtain advice if you are not sure, as practising without a PC could result in disciplinary action.

    How do I apply for a PC?

    If you would like to apply for a PC you will need to:

    • Complete and submit an Initial Practising Certificate Application Form;
    • Enclose an up to date CV;
    • Enclose the CPD records for the last two years prior to application;
    • Provide information on your firm’s professional indemnity insurance. More information on PII can be downloaded here or obtained from ICAS. 
    • Submit one character reference and one technical reference;
    • Confirm you have attended or will attend the Practice Management Course within the first 12 months. Click here to find out more about the course; and
    • Pay the required PC fee (to be advised by ICAS).

    If your application involves a new practice start-up we advise you to start obtaining PII quotes and start to organise your PII as soon as possible before submitting the PC application.  If you wait until you submit your PC application you may find that it will take a number of weeks to organise PII and that this could hold up your application.

    Please also see the ICAS guidance on the use of letterheads Letterhead Guidance.

    What happens next? 

    Please note that each application requires to go through a detailed checking process including consideration of fit and proper status, competence and experience. There is no automatic approval of any application, given the public interest nature of PC applications, and you will be notified when a decision has been made regarding your application.

    • For employee RI applications or members joining an existing firm, the ICAS team will aim to process your application form within two weeks of receipt. For PC applications involving a new practice set up, applications may take approximately 4 weeks, primarily because of the time that the firm will need in obtaining PII quotes, and organising PII.
    • If you have not provided all of the information required we will contact you to request this information.  This could delay your application being processed.  We will let you know how this affects your application timescales.
    • For less straightforward applications, the ICAS’ Public Practice Committee (PPC) may need to consider your application.  This may take longer as the PPC meets only four times a year.  Please let us know if your application is urgent and requires to be expedited. We will let you know how this affects your application timescales.
    • We are here to help.  If you would like to know the status of your application please phone or email at the Regulatory Authorisations contact details above.

    How do I complain ?

    If you are not happy with the service you have received from us in respect of your applications please contact the department’s Director, Lesley Byrne in the first instance on 0131 347 0245 or email and she will revert back to you.

    What happens if my application is denied?

    Only the Public Practice Committee can take the decision to reject a PC application. We will communicate to you the concerns raised by the Committee and what actions you can take in order that you can re-apply in the future. The majority of rejections relate to a lack of recent relevant experience and we will provide advice to you on ways that you can obtain the relevant experience before re-applying going forward. If you require a review of the decision by the Public Practice Committee or wish to provide further information in support of your application please contact Lesley Byrne in the first instance on 0131 347 0245 or email and the matter will be considered by the Committee.

    What happens once I obtain my PC?

    Congratulations on becoming and ICAS PC holder.  Once you have a PC there are a number of obligations that you will need to fulfil.  We are here to help, so please contact us if you would like advice or support.  You will need to meet the following requirements:

    • Comply with the Public Practice Regulations  
    • Comply with CPD requirements annually;
    • Attend the Practice Management course at least once every five years (see below).
    • As explained at the start of this page, your PC requires to be renewed annually and is now done through your Members Annual Return.  You will be notified that the return is ready to complete around November each year and the deadline for submission is usually 31 December each year.  For more information on the Members Annual Return click here. 

    Attending the practice management course

    From 1 April 2014 ICAS has launched a new Practice Management course which all PC holders will require to attend at least once every five years. This course should be of benefit to all PC Holders and provides a full regulatory and technical update as well as allowing the opportunity to meet fellow practitioners and members of the ICAS team. All new PC holders will need to attend the morning session of the course within 12 months of obtaining their PC. Click here to find out more about the course.

    In addition to this, practitioners considering setting up in Practice may wish to attend the tax refresher course.

    Help and Support 

    Our dedicated practitioner section of the website called Practice Hub should provide you with a one stop shop for your practice requirement needs.  This includes the General Practice Procedures Manual for free, videos, helpsheets, guidance, technical information, anti-money laundering guidance and much more!

    Consumer Credit Group Licence

    ICAS holds a Group Licence, which is issued by the Office of Fair Trading. This permits Practising Certificate holders, firms entitled to use the description “Chartered Accountants” and firms with audit registration and/or a Designated Professional Body licence to undertake a restricted number of activities, the most common of which is to allow clients to pay fees by installment. A copy of the current Consumer Credit Group Licence can be viewed here.  The current group licence scheme will end on 1 April 2014.  Click here to find out more about the new consumer credit regime.

    Contact us

    If you have any enquiries regarding Practising Certificates or Professional Indemnity Insurance please contact us by email on or 0131 347 0286.

    The EU Service Directive and The Provision of Services Regulations

    In accordance with the requirements of the EU Service Directive, which was brought into UK law by The Provision of Services Regulations 2009, information is available about the rules, regulations and formalities that apply to service activities in other EU countries. This information can be found through Points of Single Contact (PSCs), which are online e-government portals. Guidance is available on the UK Government’s website

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