ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

What is an exemption?

If you already have some qualifications you may not have to take all of the exams in the ACCA Qualification or Foundations in Accountancy awards. These are called exemptions and mean that you will start your studies at the right level for your knowledge and skill. You can also claim exemptions on the basis of practical experience if you wish to complete the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification.

You will need to pay an exemption fee for each paper awarded. Exemption fees are charged at the early exam entry fee.

Exemptions are an award of merit and ACCA reserves the right to change its exemption policy or the level of exemption awarded to accredited programmes at its discretion.

Why does ACCA award exemptions?

There are several routes to ACCA membership and many students undertake prior learning which is equivalent to some ACCA papers. Where appropriate, ACCA wishes to ensure that students' entry points match the knowledge and skills they have acquired from their previous qualifications. In doing so, we aim to provide students with the quickest possible route to membership.

What types of qualification does ACCA award exemptions to?

We award exemption to qualifications offered by educational institutions worldwide. Some examples are:

  • certificates and diplomas (awarded by recognised institutions)
  • Foundation degrees
  • Bachelor degrees
  • postgraduate qualifications
  • professional qualifications.

What exemptions are available?

A maximum of nine papers at the Fundamentals level of the ACCA Qualification can be awarded. To preserve the integrity and rigour of the ACCA Qualification and to ensure that all students share a common experience, we do not award any exemptions at the Professional level.

Exemption from all three levels of the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification can be considered, depending on the standard and equivalence of the qualification held.

Exemptions are also available for the Foundations in Accountancy suite of awards.

No exemptions are awarded from any of the papers of modules examined within ACCA's suite of post-professional qualifications.

Please take a look at the exemption enquiry database to find out which exemptions you could claim.

How can I find out what exemptions I'm entitled to?

Our exemption enquiry database details all exemptions that may be available on the basis of qualifications held by students. This includes exemptions awarded to accredited programmes and exemptions awarded using our exemption framework.

We have produced a user guide to the exemption enquiry database, which provides a short step-by-step guide to checking what exemptions you may be eligible to claim.
 
If you require any further assistance in determining your exemptions, please contact ACCA Connect who will be able to assist you.

When can I apply for exemptions?

You should apply for exemptions when you first register as a student with ACCA.

If you have gained additional qualifications since you first registered as a student and believe you may be eligible for further exemptions, you can apply for these at any time. You can send copies of your educational documents by post or fax, or email a scanned copy of these documents to ACCA at students@accaglobal.com

Please be aware that you should wait until your exemptions have been confirmed as awarded before committing to any course of study. ACCA will not be held liable for any fees incurred for changes to tuition or study materials where the award of exemptions has not been confirmed in advance.

What documents do I need to submit with my application for exemptions?

  • You must send official proof of any qualifications you already have or are studying for along with your registration form so that we can assess if you are eligible for exemptions. Please submit copies of academic transcripts or award certificates as evidence.
  • Any documentation which is not in English must be officially translated before submission. Official translations must be stamped and signed by the translator.

Please ensure that original documents are not submitted with your application, as ACCA cannot take responsibility for the return of irreplaceable documents. You can email a scanned copy of your documents to ACCA at students@accaglobal.com

Why did I not receive the exemptions I expected?

Our assessment of students' qualifications takes into account a number of variables, which may cause students with similar qualifications to be awarded differing levels of exemption. These variables include:

  • the institution or campus where studies were undertaken
  • the type of qualification that was awarded
  • the programme of study undertaken
  • the subject major stated on the completion certificate, transcript or other documents
  • the modules studied during the course of the qualification
  • the year studies were commenced or completed 
  • the date students registered with or claimed exemption from ACCA.

To find out what exemptions are available for the qualifications that you hold, please consult ACCA's exemption enquiry database in the first instance.

When/how can I pay for my exemptions?

When your exemptions have been awarded, you will be issued with an exemption notification, and an invoice, and the relevant section will be updated in myACCA. Please pay for your exemptions as soon as you have received the invoice.

The easiest method of making a payment is online by credit or debit card through myACCA.

View details of all available payment methods

Why do I have to pay for exemptions?

Students are charged a one-off fee for each exemption awarded to cover administration costs.

How much do I need to pay for exemptions?

You will need to pay a fee for each exemption ACCA awards you. This will be the same as the early exam entry fee which can be found on the dates and fees page.

How will I know if my exemption application has been approved?

You will be able to view your exemption status via myACCA and you will also be sent an exemption notification.

Do I have to accept all exemptions I'm entitled to?

It's up to you to decide if you wish to claim the exemptions you are awarded. You may wish to consider forfeiting exemptions, for instance, if a significant period of time has passed since you gained your previous qualifications, and you have not undertaken any further activity related to your studies in the intervening time.

It is advisable to consult the syllabus and study guides for each ACCA paper that you are eligible to receive exemption from and consider whether you are entirely comfortable with the topics covered before accepting exemption.

If you do accept the exemptions, you may wish to consider whether you need to undertake any additional study or preparation to ensure you are ready to begin the higher-level papers.
 
If you intend to complete the BSc degree in Applied Accounting, please be aware that Oxford Brookes University gives credit for exemptions awarded to ACCA students for any of the Fundamental level Papers F1 to F6, but a student must sit and pass the ACCA Fundamentals Papers F7, F8 and F9 to be eligible for the BSc degree. Oxford Brookes is not able to give credit for exemptions based on qualifications gained more than 10 years ago.

Why can I not find my institution on the exemption enquiry database?

ACCA can only award exemption on the basis of qualifications awarded by recognised institutions (i.e those which are recognised by the local Ministry of Education as public sector institutions or the equivalent status under their regulations.)

If your institution is not listed on the exemption enquiry database, ACCA will check the status of your institution with our external references on receipt of your educational documents.

Please also be aware that we list qualifications under the awarding body, not the study centre. If you have taken a qualification which is awarded by an establishment other than the one where you studied, please ensure you have checked the database for the awarding establishment.

What is an assessed programme?

Assessed programmes are educational programmes that have been fully assessed by ACCA. We evaluate the programme’s regulations, syllabus and assessments.  Assessed programmes are displayed in the top half of the exemption enquiry database screens.

How does ACCA decide on the level of exemption awarded for assessed programmes?

We review the programme regulations for each assessed programme and conduct a comparison of the syllabus content and assessment methods with ACCA papers. We follow a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure consistency in our assessments.

Only when we are satisfied that the knowledge and skills to be gained from a qualification are closely matched to ours will exemption accreditation be confirmed to the institution.

Why is my qualification not assessed for my graduate year? Can I still claim the exemptions?

If you graduated before the first assessment dates shown for your accredited programme on the exemption enquiry database, this means that your qualification was not assessed at the time of your graduation. You will not be able to claim the full level of exemption shown for the accredited programme but may still be eligible for some exemptions using ACCA's exemption framework.

If the assessment dates on the exemption enquiry database finish before your graduation date, your institution has not provided ACCA with up-to-date information about the programme or has informed us that the programme is no longer running in the same format. Please check whether your programme has been accredited under a different programme title, or check with your course leader.

My qualification has been assessed but the modules I have taken do not match the ones shown on the exemption enquiry database - will I still receive the exemptions?

If the modules you have taken are not those which have been assessed as part of the programme accreditation as shown on the exemption enquiry database, you will not be able to claim the exemptions.

If you have taken the modules which form part of the exemption accreditation but the titles or reference codes of these modules differ from those shown on the exemption enquiry database, ACCA's Accreditation team will need to check that these changes are valid with the awarding institution. If you are aware of any discrepancies between the information shown on ACCA's exemption enquiry database and the delivery of your assessed programme, please ask your course leader to contact ACCA in order for this information to be updated.

Please be aware that if you have studied part-time over a longer duration than is normal for your course of study or you have taken a sandwich or gap year, the modules you have studied may be spread across a range of graduate dates. Please check all assessment dates between the start and end of your studies if this is the case.

Why has my qualification not been assessed?

If your educational establishment or awarding body has not provided ACCA with the opportunity to fully assess their qualification, it will not be listed as an assessed programme.

If you are currently studying towards a qualification which has not been assessed and believe that programme accreditation may yield further exemptions, please ask your course leader to visit the Learning Providers section of the ACCA website to find out more about exemption accreditation. Please be aware that ACCA can only work directly with the awarding institution, and will not accept programme details submitted by students on behalf of their institution.

If your programme of study is assessed by ACCA in future, please be aware that any additional exemptions gained through the accreditation process will not be awarded to you retrospectively as the assessment will not relate to your graduate year.

If my qualification has not been assessed, will I still be able to claim exemptions?

ACCA uses its exemption framework to apply an appropriate level of exemption to specific qualification types that have not been assessed. For example, a student who has completed a programme which has not been assessed by ACCA may be awarded up to a maximum of the first four papers of the ACCA Qualification.

To find out what exemptions are available for the qualifications that you hold, please consult ACCA's exemption enquiry database in the first instance.

How does ACCA assess qualifications awarded nationally in all countries?

ACCA uses information provided by an independent equivalency agency to determine the academic level of qualifications awarded nationally in all countries. This equivalency information is used to benchmark international qualifications against our qualifications and assign an appropriate maximum level of exemption.

A number of relevant subject areas have been defined, and a set level of exemption assigned to each subject area depending on its equivalence.
ACCA has undertaken extensive research to categorise the most common qualification subject titles within these subject areas. Indicative lists of subject titles within each subject area can be accessed from the exemption enquiry database.

Information on exemptions awarded to national qualifications can be accessed by clicking on the link to the ACCA Qualification, Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) Qualification or Foundations in Accountancy awards in the lower half of the exemption enquiry database screen.

Why is my qualification not displayed as a national qualification on the exemption enquiry database?

The exemption enquiry database only displays qualifications of a level suitable to receive exemptions. If your qualification is awarded nationally and does not appear on the database, please check the minimum entrance requirements database to check whether your qualification meets our minimum entry requirements.

If your qualification does not appear as a national qualification on the exemption enquiry database, it may not be awarded nationally - please check with your course leader or local Ministry of Education (or equivalent) for confirmation. If the qualification is not awarded nationally and has not been assessed by ACCA, no exemptions will be available.

My programme is not assessed but I have taken some of the same modules as students who took an assessed programme at my institution. Can I claim the same exemptions?

ACCA calls the individual modules which have been assessed as part of a full programme accreditation ”accredited modules”. If you have taken one or more of these modules or module combinations as part of a programme which has not been assessed, you will be eligible to receive the appropriate exemptions.

Accredited modules can be checked on the exemption enquiry database by following the national qualifications path through the database and entering your graduate year at the end of the process.

Do I need to have achieved a specified mark in my individual modules to claim individual paper exemptions?

ACCA recognises the module pass marks set by educational institutions for the purposes of exemptions. If your institution has awarded a pass mark for a module, ACCA will accept this for exemption purposes.

However, please note that fail or marginal fail marks and compensated or condoned passes awarded by educational institutions cannot be accepted for exemption purposes.

I have been awarded credit by my institution for some of the modules specified for exemption on the exemption enquiry database. Can I claim the exemptions?

ACCA only awards exemption where students have sat and passed the specific modules detailed, as part of an assessed programme. If you have been awarded credit or exemption from your awarding institution for some or all of the modules specified on the exemption enquiry database, the exemption may not be awarded.

My qualification is not assessed and is not listed as a national qualification - am I eligible for any exemptions?

If your qualification has not been assessed and does not appear on the list of national qualifications for the country where you studied, no exemptions will be awarded. If you wish to study the ACCA Qualification, please check the minimum entrance requirements database to find out if your qualification meets ACCA's minimum entry requirements.

I have not completed my degree - can I apply for exemptions?

If you still intend to complete your qualification it is best to wait until you have done so before claiming exemptions. This is in order to ensure that you are able to enter for the most appropriate ACCA exams with no duplication of your studies.

If you have part-completed a qualification, you may still be able to claim some exemptions depending on the level of the qualification and how much of the qualification you have completed.

I have not completed my degree - can I apply for registration?

Yes, please confirm your expected date of graduation on your application and submit your transcript confirming the modules you have completed.

I registered with ACCA under a previous syllabus and received different exemptions to those now shown for my qualification on the exemption enquiry database. Can my exemptions be re-assessed?

Qualifications which were submitted for assessment at the time of your initial registration with ACCA will not be re-assessed to take advantage of any changes in exemption policy. If you have gained any additional qualifications which have not previously been submitted to ACCA for exemption assessment, these will be assessed using the current policy in place.

If I want to work in audit, can I apply for exemptions and subsequently apply for an ACCA practising certificate and audit qualification for the UK?

Students who are eligible to receive exemption from all nine papers at the Fundamentals level must complete the remaining Professional level papers within five years of registration and must also pass optional paper P7 (Advanced Audit & Assurance).

Students who are eligible to receive exemption from any or all of the nine papers at the Fundamentals level on the basis of qualifications gained more than five years previously must forfeit these exemptions and sit the corresponding ACCA examinations.

Do I need to pass any specific exams to be eligible for a UK or Irish Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification?

Yes, you must pass the UK or Irish variants of papers F4 Corporate and Business Law, F6 Taxation, P2 Corporate Reporting and P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance. If you are awarded exemptions from papers F4 and/or F6 but your degree/qualification does not have sufficient coverage of UK or Irish tax and law you will need to pass the UK or Irish variants in order to be eligible for a practising certificate and audit qualification.

I have been awarded exemptions from all papers in the Fundamentals level of the syllabus. How does this affect my eligibility for a UK or Irish Practising Certificate and Audit Qualification?

Should you wish to apply for a practising certificate and audit qualification and you have been awarded exemptions from all papers in the Fundamentals level, you are required to complete the Professional level within five years.

Also, for a UK practising certificate and audit qualification, if you were awarded any exemptions on the basis of qualifications gained more than five years before registering as a student, and you registered as a student on or after 1 January 2010, you will need to forfeit your exemptions and complete those exams to gain this certificate.

If I disagree with the exemptions awarded to me, what can I do?

Please check ACCA's exemption enquiry database in the first instance. If the exemptions awarded to you match those stated on the database, this is the maximum exemption available to you.

If you have not received all of the exemptions stated on the database for your qualification, please ensure that you have submitted all of your relevant educational documents.

If your exemption award differs from that stated on the database and you have submitted all of the required supporting documentation, please contact ACCA Connect (please see the Related links box in the top left-hand corner of this page) - our customer services centre - who will be able to assist you.

Who can I contact about exemptions?

ACCA Connect - our global customer services centre - is the first point of contact for prospective and existing students' enquiries about entry to and exemption from ACCA's qualifications. (Please see the Related links box in the top left-hand corner of this page).

Last updated: 24 Sep 2014