Time to Renew Your CPA License
Oct 29, 2021

Time to Renew Your CPA License

By Lori Braden, PICPA Vice President, Marketing and Communications
This blog was originally posted in the last reporting cycle and has been updated for the 2020-2021 cycle.

All current Pennsylvania CPA licenses expire Dec. 31, 2021. According to the PALS website (pals.pa.gov), license renewal applications open 30 to 60 days prior to expiration. To ensure enough time for processing, it’s best to submit your renewal before Dec. 31, 2021.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy will email you a renewal notice soon (if it has not done so already). All renewals will be done through the state’s PALS website. The email from st-accountancy@pa.gov will contain your username and the “registration code” for your license. (Be sure to check your junk mail or spam folder if you do not see the email in the near future.) If you don’t get one, there is an option on the login page to recover your user ID.

Log into PALS

You will need to log into the PALS website to start your renewal.

CPA License Renewal: PALS Login Options

Complete the Renewal Application

Once you log in, there will be a dashboard showing your account information. Look for the “Professional License Details” panel, locate your CPA license, and click the “Renew” button to begin the renewal.

Sample of the Renew License Button on the PALS site

The renewal will ask you to review or complete personal information, and then will ask a series of questions for the renewal. Here are a few tips for completing the application:

  • Make sure you have a valid, permanent email address listed. Most licensure correspondence from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy is sent by email, and you do not want to miss important updates regarding your license.
  • Make sure you answer all the questions. The question form is dynamic, meaning some answers will result in an additional question being displayed. For example, you will only be asked if you met the CPE requirements once you indicate that you did not pass the CPA Examination in 2020 or 2021.
  • Do not indicate that you have met the CPE requirement until you have actually completed the necessary courses. If you have courses scheduled, but not yet completed, do not submit your license renewal until those courses have been taken and credit has been issued. View current CPE requirements.
  • Be mindful of the questions about performing audits or reviews. When renewing your individual license, the questions about whether you performed an audit or review after Dec. 31, 2019, are specifically asking if you performed an audit or review as a sole practitioner. If you performed audit or review engagements as part of a licensed CPA firm only, then you would answer “no” to these questions.
  • Read each question carefully. Do not guess on the answers, and do not ask support staff to complete this form on your behalf. False or misleading answers on this form can lead to disciplinary actions against your license.

Don’t Forget to Check Out

After you “sign” the renewal application and click “Continue,” there are several more steps to submit the renewal for processing:

  • Do a final review. You have an additional chance to review your application and make changes before submission. Once you submit the application and payment, you will not be able to make any changes.
  • Click the “Add to Cart” button. This will place the signed renewal application in your shopping cart.
  • Select the renewal application and proceed to payment. In the shopping cart, you need to check the box in the left-most column to indicate you want to pay for that renewal and check the "All fees are nonrefundable..." box. Once you check both boxes, you will see the “Proceed to Payment” button.
  • Provide payment information and complete checkout. The fee for the renewal is $100, which can be paid using any major credit card.
  • After completing the submission, save a copy of your receipt and download a copy of your completed renewal application.

Monitor Your Renewal

Once you have completed and submitted your renewal application, please note that the renewal is not automatic. Processing time is needed, and if the State Board has questions about your responses it may need additional information before renewing your license.

If there are questions, you should receive follow-up communication from the state. Regardless of whether or not you receive any follow-up, it remains your responsibility to make sure your license has been renewed.

You should receive an automated email once your license is renewed, but you can verify the status of the renewal at www.pals.pa.gov/verify. If the record indicates your license expires Dec. 31, 2023, then your license has been renewed. You will receive the new license in the mail, but there is some lag time to print and mail the licenses.

The information provided here is related to your individual license renewal only. If you work for a licensed CPA firm, be sure that someone in your firm is renewing the firm license.

Visit PICPA’s license renewal page for more details and some FAQs about license renewal, or contact our team at (215) 496-9272, via email, or @PaCPAs. If you are having technical issues with the PALS website, submit a technical support request. For specific questions about your license, contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy at (833) 367-2762.

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Leave a comment
  • Jim DeLuccia | Nov 30, 2022

    @Mary Lou Stockton

    Webinars are considered live instruction.

    Jim DeLuccia

    PICPA Team

  • Mary Lou Stockton | Nov 29, 2022
    Does an interactive webinar count as live instruction?
  • Bobby Peru | Nov 11, 2021
    PLEASE follow her instructions to the letter.  The PA BOA is waiting to jump on you and penalize you for the slightest infraction or misstep.
  • Robert F. Richter | Nov 03, 2021
    Comments are all in 2017. Any recent?
  • Steve Kerr | PICPA | Dec 29, 2017
    Bill (and any others having an issue finding the "Proceed to Payment" button) - I learned there was a new piece added to the shopping cart page that isn't in the directions above:

    In the shopping cart, you need to check the box in the left-most column to indicate you want to pay for that renewal and check the box "All fees are non-refundable...". Once you check these boxes, then you will see the “Proceed to Payment” button.
  • Bill Smith | Dec 22, 2017
    I have followed the process, logging on OK, answered the questions and get to the shopping cart.  When I check the box in the left most column to indicate I want to pay for that renewal there is no Proceed to Payment button.
  • Steve Kerr | Dec 18, 2017
    Melantha - You do not submit the CPE certificates or a list of your courses on the renewal application. Instead, you just answer the Yes/No questions to certify that you are in compliance with the CPE requirements. In early 2018, the state board of accountancy will pull a percentage of the renewals for a 'CPE audit' and ask those people to submit all their CPE certificates of completion. (So make sure you hold on to those certificates!)
  • MELANTHA K PAIGE | Dec 14, 2017
    I'm working on a first time renewal. I didn't see anywhere to upload my actual CPE credit certificates. I did answer all of the questions regarding the CPE requirements in the affirmative. Am I missing something here?  The application has been accepted for review but I just want to be sure that I didn't miss a section where I'm supposed to upload documentation. Thank you
  • Steve Kerr | PICPA | Nov 27, 2017

    Adam - Great to hear you’re reactivating your license! As far as I know, this functionality is not yet available in the online system, so you still need to request a Reactivation Application directly from the Pa. State Board of Accountancy (use email address or phone number above). 

    Check out this checklist that highlights the info you’ll need to reactivate your license.

    And don’t hesitate to contact PICPA’s staff if you have additional questions on this process. 

  • Adam | Nov 23, 2017
    My license is currently inactive from a previous reporting period.  I've completed all my CPE requirements and would like to renew it for the coming bi-annual period.  How do I do that?
  • Steve Kerr | PICPA | Nov 22, 2017

    Robert and Roseanna: Yes, you can place your license on Inactive status using this same website. See the screenshot above in the "Complete the Renewal Application" section - you'll see the "Inactivate" button right next to the "Renew" button. Click that Inactivate button and follow the steps listed.

    Some quick tips for those considering Inactive status:

    - Be sure to place your license on inactive status before it expires on Dec. 31. Having your license in "inactive" status instead of "expired" status allows you to continue using the CPA designation as a mark of achievement and makes it easier to reactivate your license in the future.

    - There is no fee and no CPE required to place your license on inactive status. If you decide to reactivate your license later, you will need to complete 80 credits of CPE and pay reactivation fees.

    - Be sure to review these regulations on how you can (and cannot) use the "CPA" designation while your license is in inactive status - https://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter11/s11.9.html


  • Roseanna Fresolone Koszarek | Nov 22, 2017
    If I am no longer practicing, do I inactivate my license on this site?
  • Robert S Freed | Nov 22, 2017
    I am retiring Dec 31. Is there some      type of inactive license?
  • Bobby Peru | Nov 22, 2017
    If there are questions, you "should" receive follow-up communication from the state. But regardless of whether or not you receive any follow-up, it remains your responsibility to make sure your license is renewed.  Key word is "should".  Great advice, Steve.

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    Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.