Guidance to applicants for authorisation as external accountant
Published: 27 November 2017
Last updated: 19 September 2022
New External Accountants Act from 2023
New External Accountants Act entered into force from 1. January 2023. The information on the website applies to the previous External Accountants Act. We are working on updating the information.
1 Education requirements
A bachelor's degree in economics and business administration (with final-year concentration on external accounting) is required:
- External Accountants Regulations section 1-1 (Norwegian only)
The education requirement is defined in the recommended plan for the bachelor's degree in economic and business administration with concentration in external accounting (in Norwegian only). According to the plan the educational institution must confirm that the applicant meets the education requirement; see enclosure 1 to the plan (Norwegian only). If the applicant's education certificate does not state "Bachelor's degree in economics and business administration – concentration in external accounting", the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway expects the application to be accompanied by confirmation from the institution that the applicant meets the education requirement by virtue of other qualifications.
- Recommended plan for the bachelor's degree in economic and business administration - external accounting (Norwegian only) (pdf)
Applicants who have completed auditor training under established framework plans are deemed to meet the education requirement; see the External Accountants Regulations section 1 second subsection. In such cases no confirmation from the educational institution concerned is necessary.
Education and training must in all cases be documented by a copy of examination certificate(s) and a transcript of grades achieved. The above requirements came into force on 1 July 2014. The requirements apply irrespective of when the education and training were completed.
1.1 Education and training from another country
The education requirements described above also apply to applicants holding foreign qualifications. Foreign qualifications may after concrete assessment be recognised by a Norwegian education institution that offers external accountancy training or auditor training. However, all candidates with foreign qualifications must pass examinations in Norwegian tax law (15 ECTS-credits), Norwegian jurisprudence (7,5 ECTS credits) and Accounting regulations and accounting organisation (no requirement for a certain number of credits).
Applicants with foreign qualifications must present confirmation from a Norwegian education institution that they meet the requirements of the recommended plan for the bachelor's degree in economic and business administration with concentration in external accounting are met. The application should be accompanied by a copy of examination certificate(s) and a transcript of grades achieved.
- Recommended plan for the bachelor's degree in economic and business administration - external accounting (Norwegian only) (pdf)
1.2 Fulfilling the continuing education requirement
A candidate whose education and training were completed more than three calendar years ago must in addition meet the continuing education requirement in section 4-1 of the External Accountants Regulations for the last three years. Training is deemed to have been completed on the date on which the final examination needed to fulfil the education requirement was taken.
To document compliance with the continuing education requirement, the applicant must prepare a document showing the number of hours taken in each subject area listed in the regulations together with the identity of the course organiser, and the title and dates of the course. A copy of the course diploma must be enclosed. Applicants who have met the continuing education requirement by taking examinations at a university or equivalent institution, or by attending at least 75 per cent of a course given by a university or equivalent institution, must enclose a transcript of the grades achieved or confirmation from the education institution showing the title of the course concerned and the level of the applicant's attendance. The documentation requirement is set out in the External Accountants Regulations section 4-2 and Finanstilsynet's circular no. 11/2012 on continuing education requirements for external accountants.
- Finanstilsynet's circular no 11/2012 on continuing education requirements for external accountants (Norwegian only)
2. Requirement as to professional practice
Two years' accountancy practice is required under section 4 of the External Accountants Act. Practice must accordingly be accumulated over a period of at least 24 months. Section 1-2 of the External Accountants Regulations describes practice considered to be relevant. At least one of two years' professional practice must be gained with an authorised external accountant or firm of external accountants, in the event an approved auditor or firm of auditors.
2.1 External accounting under the Bookkeeping Act and the External Accounting Act, including mandatory financial reporting
Relevant professional practice is the recording of accounting data in accordance with the principles of the Bookkeeping Act. Section 2 of the Bookkeeping Act defines which undertakings have to comply with the Bookkeeping Act (i.e. are subject to the bookkeeping obligation). Practice gained with undertakings not subject to the bookkeeping obligation may, subject to a concrete assessment, count as relevant professional practice. Any such practice must however be supplemented with preparation of annual financial statements and income tax returns; see below.
Relevant professional practice also includes mandatory financial reporting; see section 3 of the Bookkeeping Act. This involves certain types of financial reporting under the External Accountants Act, the Value Added Tax Act, the Tax Assessment Act, the Tax Collection Act and the National Insurance Act. Practice gained for instance from the recording of wages can count as relevant professional practice.
An absolute requirement is that professional external accounting practice covers the preparation of annual financial statements. This includes the technical presentation of income statements and balance sheets, including the preparation of notes in accordance with section 3-2 of the Norwegian Accounting Act; see chapters 6 and 7. Finanstilsynet also accepts external accounting practice with undertakings not under a statutory obligation to maintain accounting records that opt of their own accord to present their financial statements under the provisions of the External Accountants Act, and submit general trading statements to the Directorate of Taxes. External accounting practice must also include the preparation of income tax returns under the Tax Assessment Act.
External accounting practice must be confirmed by the employer, in the event by the auditor for the company where the accounting practice was gained. A standard form is available for employers to confirm periods of accounting practice. The form makes clear what information is required.
An applicant whose practice has been gained with his or her own sole proprietorship, or with a company where no other person can confirm the applicant's practice, a self-declaration may be submitted together with a copy of the undertaking's general trading statement(s). The self-declaration must specify the number of hours of external accounting the applicant has carried out over the last five years.
Varied practice in the statutory audit field under the Auditors Act is fully relevant practice on a par with external accounting under the Bookkeeping Act and External Accountants Act.
Accounting practice must be confirmed by the employer. A standard form is available for employers to confirm practice periods. The form makes clear what information is required.
Where audit practice has been gained as statutory auditor in the applicant's own sole proprietorship, a practice form should not be used. The applicant should instead submit a self-declaration stating the number of hours of external auditing practice carried out over the last five years. Finanstilsynet will reconcile the number of hours with turnover data previously reported by the applicant to Finanstilsynet. See also section 5 below.
2.3 Other professional practice (up to one year of the practice requirement)
1600 hours of practice as a tax auditor with the Norwegian Tax Administration, as an auditor in the public sector or as a lecturer at a university or equivalent institution, will count towards the professional practice requirement.
The applicant should as a rule have held the position of tax auditor. This would cover tax reviews of contractors, including checks on their compliance with laws and regulations in the accounting and tax area. Such reviews and checks may involve recalculation of the basis for contractors' income and wealth tax, or recalculation of the basis for public levies such as value added tax and employer's national insurance contributions.
Applicants who have held a position in the Norwegian Tax Administration other than that of tax auditor, aspects of which were comparable with tax auditing, may have part of this practice approved subject to an overall assessment of their practice and training.
Practice from the Norwegian Tax Administration will be approved on an hour-for-hour basis, and must be documented by employer's attestation showing the number of hours the applicant has accumulated in the areas mentioned above. Finanstilsynet's standard form for confirmation of practice should not be used.
Practice gained in the public sector from auditing annual financial statements of financial reporting entities may be approved subject to a concrete assessment.
Such practice will be approved on an hour-for-hour basis and must be documented by employer's attestation showing the content (tasks carried out) and extent (number of hours) of the practice. Finanstilsynet's standard form for confirmation of practice should not be used.
The applicant must have taught the topics of financial accounting or tax law. If the applicant has had sole responsibility for the course and the lectures, a course equivalent to 12 CETS credits will count as one year's practice. If the applicant has not had sole responsibility, the number of practice hours will be in proportion to the applicant's share of the overall responsibility.
Teaching practice from an education institution that is not a university or an equivalent institution will not be eligible, even if the list of required reading matches the content of a course offered at a university or equivalent institution.
Teaching practice must be documented by attestation from the education institution stating the period in which the applicant taught the course concerned, and the applicant's share of the overall responsibility for teaching the course. The course syllabus should be enclosed.
3. Requirement as to good conduct and financial trustworthiness
According to the External Accountants Act section 4 first subsection no. 4, the applicant must meet good conduct requirements. Finanstilsynet requires presentation of a certificate of good conduct, issued by the police in the applicant's home locality. The certificate must not predate the date of application by more than three months. An applicant holding another licence who is already under Finanstilsynet's supervision need not submit a new certificate of good conduct.
According to section 4 first subsection no. 3, the applicant must be financially trustworthy to qualify for authorisation. Under Finanstilsynet's licensing regime this means that the applicant must at minimum be solvent; see the Bankruptcy Act section 61. Finanstilsynet requires the applicant to present a copy of his or her latest income tax return or a transcript of his or her latest income tax assessment. Finanstilsynet is authorised to obtain credit information when processing applications.
For further details:
- Finanstilsynet's circular 1/2020 on suitability requirements (Norwegian only).
4. Requirements as to domicile and place of business
According to the External Accountants Act section 4 first subsection no. 1, the applicant must be resident in an EEA member state. Finanstilsynet expects the correct residential address to have been notified to the National Population Register.
According to the External Accountants Act section 4 first subsection no. 2, the applicant must have a fixed place of business in Norway. This only applies to persons intending to carry on external accounting business through their own sole proprietorship.
Finanstilsynet may upon application grant dispensation from these requirements pursuant to the External Accountants Act section 4 second subsection.
5. Documentation requirements for approved auditors applying for authorisation as external accountants
Registered and state authorised auditors may not engage in external accounting activity solely on the basis of their auditor training. The education requirement for authorisation as external accountant and for enrolment for the higher 'høyere revisorstudium' (a course qualifying for state-authorisation of auditors) is met by the following: a master's degree in accounting and auditing, a bachelor's degree in accounting and auditing, and the framework plan for three-year auditor training. Applicants approved as registered auditors after 31 December 1985 or as state authorised auditors after 31 December 1994 accordingly do not need to document their qualifications.
Where an application is based on professional audit practice, such practice must be documented by confirmation from the employer stating the scope and content of the practice. One form must be completed per employer.
If the practice documented by the applicant for approval as an auditor has been accumulated within the deadlines set out in the External Accountants Regulations section 1-2, the practice need not be documented anew.
It is not necessary to enclose a certificate of good conduct, nor a transcript of the latest income tax assessment or copy of the latest income tax return.
- KRT 1019 – Application form (personal authorisation) (Norwegian only)