ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

ACCA is introducing important changes to the time limit we allow students for completing the exam component of the ACCA Qualification. Under the current rules, students are removed from the register if they have not completed the exams within 10 years of their initial registration date.

Why is this changing?

We have listened to feedback from employers and students and are making the changes as a result of this.

Our current 10 year rule does not take into consideration that ACCA students can start at different levels of the exams. Depending on prior qualifications and exemptions awarded, we allow all students – irrespective of what level they start the exams – 10 years to complete the exams. This means some students have 10 years to complete the five exams at Professional level if they have completed a relevant and accredited accounting and finance degree and some students have 10 years to complete 14 exams if they are starting with the minimum entry requirements and have no exemptions. At ACCA we want to be fair and provide the same opportunities to all our students.    

In addition, employers tell us that a time limit is important. They value up-to-date knowledge and want reassurances that ACCA trainees and members have knowledge which is current and relevant to the workplace. Prompt completion of the exams demonstrates a commitment to becoming a professional accountant. You may also find many employers will have their own company policies for completing the exams within a certain time limit.

So what are the changes to the time limit for taking exams?

Under the current rules, students are removed from the register if they have not completed the exams within 10 years of their initial registration date.

Under the new rules a seven year time limit will be introduced at the Professional level. Therefore, there are no time limits for passing the Foundation level exams as part of Foundations in Accountancy or for taking exams F1-F9 at the Fundamentals level of the ACCA Qualification. However, we do strongly recommend students take exams on a regular basis as this increases the chances of success.  

Students will have seven years to pass the exams at Professional level (P1, P2 and P3 and two of the options paper P4-P7). If a student does not pass all the Professional level exams within seven years, they will lose any passes that were achieved more than seven years ago and will need to retake. The seven year time limit starts when a student passes their first Professional level exam.

When will the new time limit rule take effect?

All current students on the register will have been given a last exam session date which is 10 years from when they initially registered. Under the new rules, if you have not completed the exams by your last session date you will not be removed from the register. However, you will lose any passes you may have achieved at the Professional level if you passed them more than seven years ago so these exams will have to be retaken. All Professional Level exams must be passed within a 7 year period.

If you are currently doing the Professional level, have passed your first Professional level examination prior to 2011 and do not anticipate completing the Professional level prior within your last exam session date – email us at students@accaglobal.com

New students registering with ACCA

The new seven year time rule at Professional level will apply to any new students registering with ACCA who are given March 2016 as their first eligible exam session. (ACCA will be offering four paper exam sessions in March, June, September and December by 2016). 

Oxford Brookes degree and time limits

Please note if you want to achieve the Oxford Brookes BSc degree in Applied Accounting, the degree must be completed within 10 years of your initial registration on the ACCA Qualification otherwise your eligibility will be withdrawn. This rule remains unchanged.

For more information visit the BSc section of the website.

UK and Ireland registered auditor status

The rule has been adapted for those who wish to become registered auditors in the UK or Republic of Ireland, please contact ACCA on for more information.

And finally, a reminder about ACCA study resources available

Don’t forget there are a wide range of resources, products and support we provide to help you progress through your qualification and achieve ACCA membership.

Please visit the Qualification Resources section to access all the resources available to you

Last updated: 30 Jan 2015