Use of the CPA designation and legacy designations

Chartered Accountants, Certified General Accountants, and Certified Management Accountants are required to include CPA with their legacy designation and call themselves a Chartered Professional Accountant. This has been a requirement since July 1, 2015, as part of the unification. 

Tagging the legacy designation is mandatory for all legacy members. Legacy members cannot use the CPA designation without the legacy designation being tagged behind it, nor can they use the legacy designation on its own.


Q:  What does CPA stand for?

Chartered Professional Accountant.  You are NOT a “Certified Public Accountant” (unless you separately earned a US designation) or “Chartered Public Accountant” (there is no such thing).

Q: Am I still a CA, CMA or CGA?

No, there are no CAs, CMAs, or CGAs in Nova Scotia as of August 2, 2016.  You are now a CPA or Chartered Professional Accountant.  You must still “tag” your former designation after your name, i.e., John Smith, CPA, CA to let the public know what designation you formerly held. However, you are no longer a Chartered Accountant.

Q:Why do I have to tag?

The decision to tag was made by the former regulatory bodies in negotiating terms of unification.  Our rules in Nova Scotia are not substantially different from those across Canada.  Tagging provides a benefit to the profession in creating awareness as the public adjusts to the new designation, but over time legacy designations will be less and less relevant to the public, so it also makes sense to stop using them at some point.

Q: How does this change how I tag my name?

Effective July 1, 2015, all ICANS, CGANS and CMANS members must include "CPA" with their legacy designation, and call themselves Chartered Professional Accountants. For ten (10) years, you will be required to use your legacy designation in addition to CPA, with the CPA part of it appearing first. For example: 

  • John Smith, CPA, CA or John Smith, FCPA, FCA
  • Jane Jones, CPA, CGA or Jane Jones, FCPA, FCGA
  • Jennifer White, CPA, CA, CMA or Jennifer White, FCPA, FCA, CMA

Q: Can I continue to tag my legacy designation forever?

Yes, you can.  You must tag until 2025, but you may tag after that.

Q: Do I have to change my business cards or signage for my firm?

Yes, tagging means that everything that the public can see (i.e., LinkedIn page, online company profile, signage, business cards, social media etc.) must be tagged.  You cannot use only “CPA” if you have a legacy designation and you cannot use only your legacy designation.

You are responsible for how you are represented in public.

We see examples where CPAs on boards of directors, for instance, are misidentified, typically identified by their legacy designation but not as a CPA.  You should check online profiles that others may have written about you, such as boards you serve on, and ensure you are properly described as a CPA.  It’s fine to say something like, “Darlene earned her CGA designation in 1995…” because that accurately describes a past achievement, but not to say, “Darlene is a CGA…”.


 For more information on tagging your designation click here.