Apply for membership based on qualifications or prior work experience

ICB membership can be awarded based on qualifications from other accredited bookkeeping and accounting bodies, or based on relevant prior work experience and competence, without the need to take ICB assessments.

What do you need?

To make an application for membership by exemption you will need to satisfy at least one of these requirements:

1. UK bookkeeping/accounting qualifications that correspond to the ICB syllabus and are dated within the last two years*

2. Experience working as a bookkeeper in the UK for the last two consecutive years**

How long does the application take?

Applying for membership by exemption can take one to three months from the point your application is received. Please let ICB know at point of application if you are already running a business and need supervision under the Money Laundering Regulations during this time.

What does it cost?

Application Fee
There is a one-off non-refundable application fee payable upon application. This fee covers your application only and will not be refunded in the event of your application being rejected or approved. 

Exemption Fee
If your application is successful you will be offered membership at the grade of Affiliate, Associate or Member dependent upon the ICB qualifications you are exempt from. There is a different exemption fee payable for each of these grades of membership. 

Membership Annual Subscription Fee
In addition to the exemption fee, you will be required to pay for your first year of membership upfront.

For details of the current year's fees please refer to Table 1: Annual Subscription fees and Table 3: Membership by Exemption fees on the following page:

> Fees & Subscriptions


Making your application

1. Submit an Online Application

You can submit an application for membership by exemption at any time throughout the year.  

When you are ready, please complete the online form and pay the non-refundable application fee with a credit or debit card. Once you have completed the online application form you will have set up an account and be given an ICB Number that you can use as a reference when contacting us.   

Submit an Online Application now


2. Submit the Supporting Documents

Your application will not be processed until all supporting documents are received. You can upload them through your online account or send them by mail or email.  

Required Items:

  1. Copy of passport and/or photo driving licence •
  2. CV or cover letter detailing work experience and study to date •
  3. Copies of relevant qualification certificates and/or full contact details for two referees
  4. If applicable, details of your company and any staff members, and the services you are/will be offering
  5. If applicable, details of your MLR Supervision 

3. Complete the Membership Entrance Paper (MEP), if applicable

We will contact you to confirm your application and all necessary documentation has been received. As soon as we have received your references we will contact you to arrange for the MEP to be sent.

All applicants are required to complete this skills appraisal to assess the level of membership that should be offered.  The skills appraisal covers elements of ICB's bookkeeping syllabus at Levels I to III which is the usual entry requirement for full Member, Certified Bookkeeper status. The MEP should take a competent bookkeeper no more than three hours to complete.

Waiting for a decision

Your application will be passed to the Admissions Panel for a decision once all necessary documentation has been gathered, including your MEP and responses to reference requests if applicable.

When an application will not be accepted

An application for membership based on qualifications from other bodies or based on experience does not guarantee an offer of membership. ICB cannot offer exemptions from any ICB assessment that you have previously attempted and failed, even if you have subsequently achieved an equivalent qualification from another awarding body.

You will be required to make a formal application for exemption, and the decision will be made by the Admissions Panel based on your application as a whole.

*Using your qualifications

ICB recognises certain qualifications awarded by other institutes, examination boards and awarding bodies.

If you are applying solely on the basis of your qualifications, please bear in mind your qualifications must have been gained in the UK within the last two years. Qualifications awarded by other awarding bodies are accepted only where they correspond to the ICB syllabus and a satisfactory mark has been obtained. ICB may also specify the grade or percentage that needs to have been achieved.

If your qualifications were gained more than 2 years ago, but less than 5 years ago then you may be eligible for exemption. ICB will need to contact a referee in support of your application. This will need to be a Chartered/Certified Accountant, FICB, MICB, FMAAT or MAAT who is familiar with work you have been completing for at least the last two years.

Please ensure you forward copies (not originals) of qualification certificates and results sheets.  ICB does not offer exemptions based on exemptions granted by other bodies.

To view which qualifications are required for each ICB membership grade, please click here.

Non-UK qualifications: Qualifications awarded in countries outside the UK will be taken into consideration. Please contact ICB before submitting your application.

**Using your work experience & references

To apply on the basis of your work experience you need to have been working as a bookkeeper in the UK for a minimum of the last two consecutive years. Please provide the names and full contact details of two people whom ICB can contact details and obtain references. Both referees should be either Chartered/Certified Accountants, FICBs, MICBs, FMAATs or MAATs who are familiar with work you have been completing for at least the last two years.

Your referees need to have worked with you in a professional capacity and cannot be relatives, or be in a personal relationship with you. Your application should state their qualifications and relationship to you. ICB will send a detailed specification to each appropriate referee asking for confirmation on the areas of the syllabus in which he or she has working knowledge of your competence.

Referees are required to sign the specification and confirm their own qualifications which will be verified with the relevant professional body before the reference is processed.

Non-UK work experience: Experience gained in countries outside the UK will be taken into consideration. Please contact ICB before submitting your application.


Study globally recognised bookkeeping courses at home or in the classroom with our award winning training providers.

Read more

Browse the directory or post a job vacancy to find a fully qualified bookkeeper in your local area.

Read more

Keep up to date with events that shape the bookkeeping world and the members' calendar.

Read more

Students and members can update account details, book an exam, apply for a job or choose a new password all in MyICB.

Read more

Ready to apply for Exemption?

start online application