Advice for applying for CPA License in Illinois

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  • #188022

    I just finished the CPA license process in Illinois, and horrendous is a understatement as to my experience waiting to get my license to practice. I just wanted to give some helpful advice to my fellow brothers (and sisters!) in accounting arms pursuing the CPA license and hoping to get their license in Illinois.

    Here a few helpful tips:

    1) My advice is that after you finish your last exam get right started on the ethics exam. That way when you have received the good news that you passed, you can go straight into licensing process.

    2) The ILBOA only sends out the Certificate showing that you completed the CPA exam and ethics requirements twice a month, but it is sent electronically!

    -I would call and confirm that ILBOA has sent the certificate to the IDPFR (Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation).

    -I would also call and confirm that the IDPFR has received your application and the CPA certificate.

    3) RTFM! RTFM! Read the instructions on the application for license like your life depends on it, you don’t want to have resubmit information because you’re “instructionally challenged” (Yes, I made up that term). There is nothing worse than receiving a denial letter asking for additional information because you were too dumb to follow the instructions the first time (I fall into this group sadly O__O )

    4) You can call the IDPFR and get updates on your application status, don’t be afraid to do this (they have a call center). I would call confirm that they have received your application, received your CPA certificate, and closer to the 6 weeks mark for status updates on any deficiencies, or simply to annoy them because you are anxious and can’t wait (that would be me)


    5) It takes the Evaluators 10 to 15 business days to receive your application (or any additional information mailed in) ONCE it arrives at the IDPFR mailing room. My experience has been closer to 10 business days as a good estimate.

    6) The general expected time for them process your application is 6 to 8 weeks, but this is only if you do not have any errors or deficiencies in your application.

    7) In regards to the experience verification form: IL does not require that your experience be obtained under the supervision of an CPA , verified by an CPA, or solely in public accounting (see the regulations on the IDPFR site for more info).

    -Per the instructions make sure that you fill out your portion of the form, and THEN have your employer fill out the second part.

    -To be safe, I suggest you have the form filled out after you have received your certificate since this information should be included on the form, and I would also request that your employer put the form in a sealed company envelope so that you can include it with your application with proof of it being untampered with.

    -Note: I had this particular issue with my application. I had my employer fill out the form and then I added my certificate number after the fact. I of course received a rejection letter and had to have the form refilled out and sent from my previous employer, not fun.

    8) Also, you are allowed to type information into the pdf versions of the form. So if you need to send a form to a previous employer this is the way to do it! You still have to provide original ink signatures though.

    9) I also suggest that you include a print out of the letter that the ILBOA emails you stating that they have sent the your CPA certificate information to the IDPFR.

    10) Prepare yourself for the lowest low after the highest high of seeing those three letters behind your name. In some ways I think I got used to the struggle. Now, it’s kinda like ok, that’s done so what do I do now???

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  • #674094

    Do you have a recommendation on whether to purchase the interactive version or the textbook version of the Ethics class?


    Thanks for the info. How long does it take to receive the certificate after all parts + ethics have been passed? Do we receive an email and paper copy?

    FAR- PASSED (11/13)
    REG- PASSED (2/14)
    BEC- PASSED (5/14)
    AUD- PASSED (8/14)

    If it's important to you, you will find a way. If it isn't, you will find an excuse.


    Thanks ATG for the info! I heard IDPFR had terrible customer service. I am not looking forward to dealing with them.


    @leglock I personally bought the textbook version because I wanted to take notes in the book itself and highlight (I stopped after a while though). The textbook has a paper version of the online test in the back of the book. I answered by hand then completed the online version. It really just comes down to personal preference. The ethics exam is nowhere near as difficult as you think it will be. Just read the book front to back, highlight or write down basic points and you will be fine. Ethics is the easy part.

    @mjp44 I received my certificate within a week of receiving my final passing score, but I passed the ethics before my final score was released. I would expect to receive the cpa certificate within 1 to 2 weeks of your ethics score being received by the ILBOA. The basic timeline is after they receive your ethics score, they will first email you stating that you have been granted the cpa certificate, and then later they send the same information via postal mail including the actual certificate. As I said in my first post though, as soon as you receive that email of the cpa certificate, I would be sending your application in to the IDPFR. I also included the emailed letter attachment with my application, because overkill is like my middle name or something.


    thanks this is really helpful!


    I feel like this is a fairly stupid question since I think I know the answer, I guess I just want some confirmation…so I've passed all the exams and the ethics, but I just graduated and haven't started working yet. I'm not considered a CPA and passing the exams doesn't really mean anything until I have the year of experience, correct? Like for business cards/LinkedIn/e-mail signatures I can't use CPA after my name?

    @ATG618 thanks for all of your advice! I enjoy number 10…I very recently found out I passed and was so happy, but I had built this up in my head so much that the next day I was kind of down at how insignificant it felt….very weird mix of emotions I've felt with this process, glad I'm not the only one.



    No, you cannot hold yourself out as a CPA without a license. So you cannot put CPA next to your name nor put on your resume. However, if you do want to mention that you passed the exam on Linkedin or on a resume, then I would mention that I have a CPA certificate but awaiting license or license pending. Something to that effect.



    same thing as what Broke4Life said. You can't hold out as a CPA until you receive the license. Actually, almost all states I believe have regulations controlling the use of the terms: CPA and even Accountant! I personally didn't update my LinkedIn until I received the license, but I did tell interviewers on my progress with the exam which seems to help if you are closer to finishing than not.



    Thanks for the info. I just received the certificate yesterday and it was printed to a plain white A4 paper. It is half page size.

    Do you also receive the same certificate as mine ? i am wondering that there should be another version of certificate or do we need to order ?

    and my expiration date will be another 7 months, is this correct ?

    Illinois CPA 02/15


    @Nami Congratulations Nami, Yes I received a paper certificate as well, and you should have received a wallet size card identifying you as a CPA. But, there is nothing for you to order besides what is sent in your license package. (but don't take my word, best thing is to call)

    As far as your expiration date, you would have to confirm with the board, but apparently, the renewal date for the License is the same for everyone.


    This is so helpful, thanks!


    This was very helpful!! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    AUD - NINJA in Training
    BEC - NINJA in Training
    FAR - NINJA in Training
    REG - 80
    I Can Do This!!

    Just a quick vent – I passed the last exam in November 2020 and the ethics exam shortly thereafter. After that I submitted all paperwork after careful, careful review. I called IDFPR in December and the rep. said they were backed up because of Covid and said it would take six to eight weeks to complete. Before Covid they said it was four to six weeks. It's now the end of January and still no license.

    Since then I've called several times and the only thing they tell me is my file says waiting to be reviewed—but it's been “waiting to review” status since Dec. 8. Each time I call the rep exclaims they aren't sure why it hasn't been completed, especially since I haven't received any denials or any email correspondence (I also check my spam folder).

    Each time I request to speak to a supervisor and the rep says they can't transfer me to anyone. The only thing they can do is place a ticket to Springfield. However, it takes two to three weeks for them to reply to the ticket. So this means I might not get an answer until the middle of February??

    Has anyone else submitted license for application in November 2020 or beyond and have received?

    AUD - 76
    BEC - 87
    FAR - 78
    REG - 75
    practice, Practice, PRACTICE!
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