To applicants for authorisation as an external accountant – guidance regarding professional qualifications from other countries
External accountants must be authorised by The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet). Requirements for authorisation as an external accountant are set out in Act of 18 June no. 109 on authorisation of external accountants (External Accountants Act) and associated Regulations of 8 February 1999 no. 196 on authorisation of external accountants (External Accountants Regulations).
To be eligible for authorisation, external accountants need to hold a bachelor's degree in business economics and administration with concentrations in specific subjects; see the External Accountants Regulations section 1-1. Two years of relevant job experience within the past five years are also required. Finanstilsynet may by way of exception recognise job experience gained prior to the last five years (but not prior to the last ten years) if the experience concerned is considered particularly relevant. Job experience gained both before and after completion of training may be approved. Applicants must be of good repute, financially trustworthy, of legal age, not have been adjudicated incompetent, and be resident in an EEA member state; see the External Accountants Act section 4.
Recognition of education and training from another country
Education and training from another country will be recognised as equivalent to Norwegian education and training, apart from in the case of tax law and jurisprudence where the examinations must have been taken in Norway. An examination may also need to be taken in financial accounting if the scope or content of this subject as provided by the foreign course of study is less than that required by the External Accountants Regulations section 1-1.
Applicants must provide documentary evidence that their foreign education and training are recognised under the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges section 3-4. If the education and/or training is to be completed at a Norwegian educational institution, questions concerning recognition can be directed to the educational institution in question. In other cases NOKUT, the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, is responsible for the recognition of foreign education and training. Please note that applicants must also be prepared to provide Finanstilsynet with documentary evidence that the further requirements on the foreign education and training in question are met. To that end a transcript of the applicant's academic record, translated into English or Norwegian by a publicly certified translator, must be available.
Recognition of professional qualifications
Under the External Accountants Regulations section 1-1, applicants entitled to provide external accountancy services in another EEA member state will on certain conditions be eligible for authorisation as external accountants in Norway. This section was added in pursuance of Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications (Professional Qualifications Directive).
Recognition presupposes that the applicant holds qualifications as mentioned in Directive 2005/36/EC. The Directive sets out general rules to the effect that evidence of qualifications showing that the holder has the professional qualifications needed to practise a profession in an EEA state should also be recognised for the purpose of practising the profession in question in any other EEA state. The Directive is a step in the implementation of the EEA Treaty's objective of free movement persons and services.
The Directive is implemented in Norway in the External Accountants Regulations section 1-1 which requires an applicant from another EEA state to be recognised as an external accountant in Norway provided specific conditions are met. Those conditions are as follows:
1. the applicant has evidence of qualifications showing that he/she has the right to practise the profession in another EEA state where external accountancy services provided to other parties on a commercial basis are regulated by law. Evidence of qualifications must show that the applicant has a level of qualification at least equivalent to a level directly below the level required of applicants with a Norwegian training; see the External Accountants Act section 1-1.
2. the applicant has been an external accountant for a period of at least two years, in the course of the past ten years, in an EEA state in which the external accountancy profession is not regulated by law. In such cases the applicant must present evidence of qualifications issued by an authority of that country showing the applicant's level of professional qualification; see the Professional Qualifications Directive Article 11. This must confirm that the applicant is suited to be an external accountant.
However, the requirement of two years' professional practice does not apply where the applicant presents evidence of qualifications showing that he or she has completed training regulated by law as defined in Article 11(b), (c), (d) or (e).
The applicant must in addition satisfy the conditions of the External Accountants Act section 4, first paragraph nos. 2 to 5. These provisions require presentation of a certificate of good conduct dating back no further than three months on the application date and a copy of the most recent tax assessment or tax return. Finanstilsynet may require a certificate of good conduct from the applicant's home country and/or Norway.
Please note that an external accountant must in all cases have the language skills needed to conduct business in Norway. Finanstilsynet may require the documentation of sufficient language skills and may not allow a business to start up until documentation of language skills has been provided; see the External Accounting Regulations section 1-4, fourth paragraph.
Finanstilsynet may, based on a concrete assessment, require the applicant to undergo aptitude testing. This applies where the applicant's course of study and period of training are at least one year shorter than, and/or diverge significantly from, that required by the External Accounting Regulations section 1-1, or where the applicant's business in Norway may include services that are not provided in the latter's home state. The aptitude test basically involves successful completion of an examination in all the following subjects:
- Financial accounting, 15 unit points
- Tax law, 15 unit points
- Jurisprudence, 10 unit points
Before requiring an applicant to undergo aptitude testing, Finanstilsynet will consider whether the applicant has the professional experience needed to remedy all or some of the differences in training. This will call for a detailed account of the content of the applicant's experience.
The legal aspect of training undergone in another EEA state will invariably differ significantly from that required in Norway. Moreover, such differences will not be remedied by job experience gained under the rules and principles of another EEA state. Accordingly applicants will as a rule need to take an examination in all the above subjects, in Norway in accordance with Norwegian rules. Proficiency in these subjects is an absolutely minimum requirement for quality in accounting.
A number of educational institutions offer examinations in financial accounting, tax law and jurisprudence. A selection of such institutions is given below. Students must themselves sign up for examinations and pay any examination fee due.
Links to educational institutions (not an exhaustive list):
Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
University of Agder
The Norwegian School of Management BI
Sør-Trøndelag University College