There are no licence requirements to allow you to describe yourself as an accountant. However, to use the description “Chartered Accountant”, in England and Wales you must be a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. There are equivalents available in Scotland and Ireland. There are also various trade bodies within the Accountancy profession.


The Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) is regarded as ‘entry into the profession’ as a Chartered Accountant. This means that a standard check could be done, and therefore you will need to disclose everything that would be disclosed on this type of check. Although there process appears to have changed since, previously you had to complete a manual application form which could be downloaded from their website. You would then make a declaration of your criminal record on this form and return it back to student services with your registration fee. Once this was received the assessment team will look at the application and would contact you to discuss it. If they then make the decision that you are not suitable to become a student they would return the registration fee in full within 3-5 working days. You should speak to the ICAEW directly for details on their latest below.

To register with the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), you have to apply via an online application form. On this application form there is a section marked ‘legal matters’ and this is the section where you are asked about your criminal record. Once you have submitted the form it will be looked at by the Professional Conduct Department who will be in contact with you. They assess each case on its own merit and will give you an answer as to whether they will allow you to become a student member after you have disclosed to them what your conviction was for. If they decline you, then they will refund you the payment you submitted in full.

With the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), on the application form they ask for a declaration about any convictions which are not yet spent. If you have unspent convictions, you will be asked for details of:

  • What your conviction was for
  • The circumstances leading up to your conviction (ie a full step by step account of what led to your conviction)
  • When you were convicted and the court which convicted you.
  • What sentence you received
  • A copy of your Certificate of Conviction (this is the official document from the court which convicted you, confirming what your conviction was for and the sentence you received)
  • Any other information you consider would be helpful to them in assessing your suitability.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) will assess each application on a case by case basis. You will need to complete an online application form and make payment for registration. You will then need to email your details of your unspent convictions and they will then look at your application and make a decision whether to accept your application or not. If you are rejected as a student then your application fee will be refunded to you in full within 10 working days.

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