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CPA status options: Can I? Should I? How do I?

BOA Business

Anne Janotta Erickson, MNCPA membership marketing team leader | September 2021 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated August 30, 2021

The MNCPA’s customer service department fields hundreds of calls annually on a variety of certification topics. One of the most common: CPA certificate status options.

Specifically, we’re talking active verses inactive. When it comes to making a status switch, CPAs want to know: Can I? Should I? How do I?

Whether you’re going from inactive to active or vice versa, the most important part is getting the answer right. It could mean the difference between complying with Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) rules or falling into noncompliance territory.

So, can you? Should you? How do you? Let’s find out.

Can I:

Change my CPA certificate status?
If you’re a corporate CPA, the answer is yes! You have the choice of maintaining either an active or inactive CPA certificate.
Work in public accounting? Sorry, you don’t get a choice in the matter. You must maintain an active CPA certificate.

Go inactive if I’m short on CPE?
Nope. Switching to inactive isn’t a solution for fixing a CPE shortage. Active CPAs must be in CPE compliance (120 CPE credits for the three-year period ending June 30) to make the switch to inactive.

Display my CPA credential?
Active CPAs can use the credential without restriction. You name it — resumes, business cards, LinkedIn — and you can list your CPA credential on it if you’re active.

Inactive CPAs are more limited on how they can use their credential professionally. In fact, any reference to CPA must include the inactive modifier. Unfortunately, this often results in the CPA dropping the credential altogether.

Should I:

Change my certificate status?
Everyone’s answer to this question is different.

For some CPAs, the inactive status is appealing because there’s no annual CPE requirement. Note, however, that inactive CPA certificates must still be renewed annually through the Minnesota BOA.

On the flip side, active CPAs up their professional marketability by being able to use the credential anywhere and everywhere. Clients, customers and colleagues recognize the smarts behind someone who holds the CPA credential.

How do I:

Change my certificate status?
Ready for a status switch? Here’s the scoop:

Inactive to active
Switch to active status any time during the year, provided you’ve earned enough CPE (120 credits within three years of the preceding application). Submit necessary paperwork and fees to the BOA. For an effective date of Jan. 1, complete the BOA’s online renewal form. Otherwise, submit the Status Change to Active form.

Active to inactive
A status change to inactive can only be made during the BOA’s renewal period (early October–Dec. 31) with an effective date of Jan. 1. Indicate the status change within the BOA’s renewal form. Remember, your CPE must comply in order to make the change to inactive.


The Minnesota BOA regulates CPA licensure. They can be reached at 651-296-7938 or
As previously noted, the MNCPA is no stranger to certification questions. Reach us at 952-831-2707 or Or visit to learn more about your status options.