What is the difference between a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Accountant?

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May 5, 2023

The History

According to Association of Chartered Accountants, the Chartered Accountant term first appeared over 150 years ago and designated accountants who had a royal charter granted to them under Queen Victoria in England and Scotland. The Chartered Accountant designation came into being as a result of the rigorous certification test.

Nowadays, most people consider that the difference between a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Accountant is negligible, since Chartered Accountant is simply the term used in England and Wales to describe what Americans would call a certified accountant.


You can only become a Chartered Accountant after passing examinations and after having a relevant period of work experience as an accountant. Also, chartered Accountants who provide services to the public and not as employees must also gain a “practising certificate” and have to meet even more requirements.

Both Chartered Accountant and a Certified Accountant have to undergo a similar training and have to take a series of exams in order to be able to practice accounting. The training, exams and experience necessary to practice accounting depends on the region. For instance, in Australia, you cannot take the chartered accountant exams unless until you have at least two years of master’s education and a year of practical experience in accounting. In America, there are many masters programs in accounting that have similar requirements for more specific certifications.

However, in United Kingdom, there are no special licence requirements and anyone can call himself an accountant or can practice accountancy, but “Chartered Accountants” must be members of one of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland or Chartered Accountants Ireland.


When hiring an accountant for your company, you have to make sure that they are qualified. The most frequent and used accountancy qualifications are considered Chartered Accountants, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Chartered Certified Accountants, or Associate of Accounting Technicians.

Both Chartered Accountant and a Certified Accountant are allowed to manage a corporation’s finances and to conduct accounting for businesses. Both designations allow the accountants to work in international finance and stock exchanges.

If you think you could save some money by hiring an unqualified accountant, you should know that an accountant who doesn’t have one of the qualifications above may charge less, but probably won’t be able to meet the standards, and this saving you make might prove to be more expensive in the long term.

If you have a small business you just launched or you need advice about your personal finances, you should always try to get help from professionals and qualified accountants. Chartered Accountants not only have the experience and abilities to practice accounting, but they also have to behave according to a code of professional ethics set by their institute.

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