Nov 13, 2017

Time to Renew Your CPA License

By Steven G. Kerr, vice president – strategy and business development

Pennsylvania CPAs: it’s time to renew your license. All current licenses expire Dec. 31, 2017, and should be renewed before that date.

This year you will need to renew your license using the state’s new central licensing website, the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS). The process is a bit different from past years, so here is a quick rundown of how to renew your individual CPA license.

Log into PALS

You will need to log into the PALS website to start your renewal. If you already set up a user ID and password during previous license renewals, you can continue using that login.

CPA License Renewal: PALS Login OptionsIf you did not have an account on the old renewal website, or you do not remember your user ID or password, there are options on the login page to create an account or to reset your password using these details:

  • UserID. Most licensees received an e-mail last week from st-accountancy@pa.gov that contained their username and the “registration code” for their license (check your junk mail or spam folder if you did not see it). Or use the option on the login page to recover your UserID.
  • E-mail address. Use the e-mail address on file with the State Board. If you no longer have access to the e-mail address on file or do not know what e-mail address is on file, you may be able to provide your Social Security number instead. You can also select the option to update your e-mail address.
  • License information. In some situations, you may be asked to provide your license number or registration code. Both can be found on your physical CPA license. Your license number can also be found using the license verification tool.

Complete the Renewal Application

CPA License Renewal: PALS Renew ScreenOnce 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. The first page of the renewal will ask you to review or complete personal information, and the second page will ask a series of questions for the renewal. Here are a few tips for completing these pages:

  • Make sure you have a valid, permanent e-mail address listed. Most licensure correspondence from the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy is sent by e-mail, 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 2016 or 2017.
  • Do not indicate you have met the CPE requirements until you actually have completed all necessary courses. If you have courses scheduled, but not yet completed, to meet the minimum CPE requirements, then you cannot complete your renewal until those courses have been taken.
  • 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, 2015, 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 submitting it. 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.
  • Example "Proceed to Payment" screenSelect 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 box "All fees are non-refundable..." box. Once you check both boxes, then 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.
  • Save a copy of your submission. 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 they may need additional information before renewing your license.

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.

You should receive an automated e-mail once your license is renewed and you can also verify the status of the renewal at www.pals.pa.gov/verify. If the records indicates your license expires Dec. 31, 2019, then your license is renewed. You will receive the new license in the mail, but there is some lag time to print and mail the licenses.


Visit our license renewal page for more details and FAQs about license renewal, or contact our team at (215) 496-9272 or via online chat, e-mail, 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 st-accountancy@pa.gov or (717) 783-1404.

This blog was updated Jan. 5, 2018, to clarify the checking out process.


Leave a comment
  • 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 | Dec 01, 2017

    Ed - This isn't an issue I've heard from others, so I'm also curious to see if others are experiencing this.

    One thought I had is that there may be a required field that still needs to be answered/updated before you can proceed. If you haven't already, I'd take a close look to make sure all the required fields (ie. the ones with a red bar on the left edge of the field) are answered and that your password meets all the new requirements (ie. that all the password requirements on that page have a green check mark next to them). 

  • Ed Straley | Nov 30, 2017

    Following the Login Instructions contained in the Renewal Notice Instructions received in the mail:

    I went to the PAL website;

    From the PAL website, I have selected "Log On" located on the left side menu;

    On the next screen I have entered my user name and password;

    After reviewing the personal information and accepting the terms and conditions I click on "Save the Changes"

    At this point, nothing happens.

    Per the instructions, after clicking "Save the Changes" I should proceed to my user dashboard where the "Renew" button is to be located, but the website does not advance to this page.

    I sent a contact message but the email response I received said it would be several days until they could respond.

    Anyone having a similar experience?

  • Steve Kerr | Nov 28, 2017
    Norman - I sent you an email with some info that may be helpful. If you don't receive it or have additional questions, please send me a private message and I will be glad to take a closer look.

    Steve Kerr | PICPA
  • Norman Reilly | Nov 27, 2017

    I've gone to the website they gave me, and I'm able to log in, but no "Professional License Details" section comes up.

    What's going on?

  • 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: https://www.picpa.org/docs/site/attend_cpedoc/checklisttoreactivateyourlicense.pdf

    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.

    Leave a comment

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