What does Brexit mean for your chartered accounting qualification?

Dec 16, 2020

The ending of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021 will result in some changes in the standing of the Irish ACA qualification.  This article deals with the matter of the qualification’s standing and in terms of Irish and UK law.  Specific guidance on the access to audit rights is covered elsewhere

Institute standing 

Our Institute was created in 1888, prior to partition, and has been an all-island body ever since.  The Institute is recognised in law in both UK and Ireland under the Chartered Accountants Act 1966. 

EU Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EU)  

The EU Qualifications Directive is designed to ensure that Member States cannot create artificial barriers to the recognition of EU citizens’ professional qualifications when those citizens are moving from one EU state to another, as this would be counter to the EU ‘single market’. 

Students/Members: Republic of Ireland 

Members or students who are EU citizens and who have qualified and gained the requisite experience in the EU prior to the end of the transition period will see no change in their rights and protections; they will continue to be covered by the EU Qualifications Directive.  

Students/Members: Northern Ireland

Students gaining the Irish qualification in NI/UK post Brexit will be receiving a European qualification awarded in a third country.  

Members who are UK citizens (or other non-EU citizens), who qualified in NI/UK prior to the transition period and who have met the required EU-based experience requirements, will no longer be able to access the rights under the EU Qualifications Directive, as they are not EU citizens under this Directive. 

It is worth noting that the numbers of our members living in mainland European countries is relatively small, so the impact of these changes is not likely to be significant.  

Common Travel Area - Irish and UK law

The Irish ACA qualification continues to be recognised in Irish and UK law, and members on both sides of the border will continue to have mobility rights under the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement. Additionally, members of this Institute will continue to have access to practice rights on both sides of the border. The CTA rights precede the entry of the EU and thus remain in place. 

Audit Qualification 

The advent of Brexit is also impacting the Audit Qualification (AQ).  The AQ award confirms that the member has met the educational requirements for becoming an auditor and is one of the criteria necessary when a member wishes to gain access to audit practicing rights.  It is also relevant in terms of ownership rights. 

From January 2021, following consultation with both regulators, a new AQ regime will come into place.  

Members in the Republic of Ireland: 

  • Persons admitted to membership and who continue to meet the eligibility criteria for the audit qualification will be eligible to apply for the AQ. 
  • These persons, if awarded, will be eligible ultimately to gain audit practice rights in Ireland and the UK.

Members in Northern Ireland/UK: 

  • For persons admitted to membership and who continue to meet the eligibility criteria for the audit qualification, the regime will remain as at present with the automatic award of the AQ; and
  • if awarded, these persons will be eligible ultimately to gain audit practice rights in Ireland the UK, provided they meet the criteria under both the Companies Act 2014 and the Companies Act 2006.  The AQ awards of members who do not meet the eligibility criteria under the Companies Act 2014 will be limited to NI/UK jurisdiction.