Public Accounting

Public accounting is a restricted area of practice in Nova Scotia and is reserved for members who hold a public accounting license. No individual in Nova Scotia can sign off on a public accounting engagement unless they have a public accounting license issued by CPA Nova Scotia.  

Effective September 1, 2019, the practice of public accounting in Nova Scotia is defined within the Chartered Professional Accountants Act (Nova Scotia), Section 2(zm).  Public accounting includes, but is not limited to, audits of historical financial information, audits of controls, compliance with agreements, agreed upon procedure engagements and reviews of historical financial information. 

Individuals and firms are deemed to be offering public accounting services in Nova Scotia when they (including firm staff) physically enter the province to provide any support to a public accounting engagement.  This includes on-site work, inventory verification and meeting with clients. The signing of statements in the province is specifically included.  To be clear, if a firm has a delegated representative (staff) working in Nova Scotia, the engagement partner must carry a licence and the firm must be registered in Nova Scotia.

Members are reminded of the requirement to use the protected designation “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” to sign-off on any public accounting engagement.  For more information refer to CPA Nova Scotia Code of Professional Conduct, Rule 402: Use of Descriptive Style.  Members shall not use the protected designation “Licensed Public Accountant” or “LPA” on public accounting engagements signed on or after January 1, 2020.  

When is licensing required? 

Any member issuing or signing an audit report, a review engagement report, or other assurance report or performing agreed upon procedures engagements is required to carry a public accounting licence.  This does not apply to all members in the practice of public accounting; it applies to individual members who are responsible for the issuance of audit reports, review engagements or other assurance reports and agreed upon procedures engagements. Typically, this would be the engagement partner.  

Members and firms that perform compilation engagements, accounting services and tax advisory services for clients, are deemed to be practicing CPAs under the definition of other regulated services.  However, members and firms providing these other regulated services must be registered with CPA Nova Scotia and will still be subject to disciplinary action and required to maintain professional liability insurance coverage. Members and firms providing compilation engagements will be subject to practice inspection.

There are two categories of licences: audit licence and review licence.    A summary of the permitted services allowed under each category licence is listed below.

 Categories of Licences  Summary of Permitted Services
 Audit Licence
(Full Licence)

  • Audit of historical financial information and all related opinions, declarations, consents, or other related reports.
  • Assurance engagements other than an audit or review of historical financial information where an opinion, compliance, or other attestations was provided. This may include, but is not limited to, reporting on controls, compliance with agreements, and audit of a candidate in an election. 
  • Review of historical financial information and all related opinions, consents, declaration, or other related reports.
  •  Agreed-Upon Procedures (CSRS 4400).
 Review Licence

 (Limited Services Licence)

  • Review of historical financial information and all related opinions, consents, declaration, or other related reports.
  •  Agreed-Upon Procedures (CSRS 4400).