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Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) subscribes to the principles of lifelong learning and the role that Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) plays in the promotion of lifelong learning, professional growth and career advancement.

In applying the above, the SAIPA’s RPL policy provides for a framework for the implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) within the context of the National qualifications Frameworks (NQF) Act (Act 67 of 2008).

The SAIPA RPL process opens the door to the Professional Accountant (SA) designation as well as other designations, undoing some of the unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities.


South Africans who do not meet the formal entry requirements for admission, can obtain access to a learning program through the RPL.

The identification, assessment and acknowledgement of the skills and knowledge obtained through informal and non-formal learning is done through:

  • The identification of what the candidate knows and can do;
  • Matching the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience to specific standards and the associated assessment criteria of a qualification;
  • Assessing the candidate against those standards; and
  • Crediting the candidate for skills, knowledge and experience built up through formal, informal and non-formal learning that occurred in the past.



  • The Institute commits to the objectives of the NQF and the SAQA guidelines and criteria on assessments.
  • The achievement of international comparability.
  • Ensuring a consistent approach to the granting of credits.
  • Access to the profession to all individuals regardless of race, gender or disability; and
  • The granting of RPL recognition after competence has been proven through the assessment process.


SAIPA requires at least six years’ relevant experience (part of which should be at a senior level) to gain entry into the profession. Successful candidates will be orally assessed through a case study on their competence in the following five areas.


Management Accounting Financial Reporting:

  • selecting the appropriate accounting standards (technical frameworks);
  • selecting the correct application of the principles to address an issue; and
  • compliance to the accounting standards in the context of the situation.


Commercial Law Taxation:

  • selecting the appropriate provisions of the tax legislation (technical frameworks);
  • selecting the correct application of the principles to address an issue; and
  • compliance to the tax legislation in the context of the situation.


Financial Accounting Management:

  • selecting the appropriate financial management techniques (technical frameworks);
  • (ii) selecting the correct application of the principles to address an issue; and
  • compliance to the principles of financial management in the context of decision-making.


Tax Professional Engagements and Ethical Conduct:

  • selecting the appropriate engagement standards (technical frameworks);
  • selecting the correct application of the principles of the standards to address an issue;
  • compliance to the engagement standards to execute it effectively in the context of the situation; and
  • compliance to the code of ethics and quality assurance in conducting professional engagements.


Practice Management Overall Performance:

The competency-based assessment for the overall performance of the candidates is based on the application of the previous four knowledge areas.


  • Completion of the application form

  • A copy of the applicant’s ID document

  • Payment of the RPL application fee
  • Official copies of previous course results obtained from an accredited training provider (Foreign qualifications need a SAQA Certificate of Evaluation)
  • A detailed CV explaining relevant work experience, including references; or
  • Job description indicating dates and places where experience was obtained; or
  • Previous assessment reports received from SAICA, CIMA or ACCA
  • A list of relevant training courses attended, including names of the service providers
  • Copies of all qualifications and certificates of membership; and
  • A testimonial from the previous employer, supervisor or any other relevant documentation.


The assessment process takes approximately six weeks once all the required documents have been submitted and the payment was made.

The candidate’s application may be rejected, or SAIPA may request additional information, request the completion of online programmes or request an interview. Failure to submit outstanding or additional information or failure to respond to any other request will result in the cancellation of the application within 90 days of the date of request for information. The matter will then be deemed closed and a new application will have to be submitted for RPL.

Applicants may appeal a decision through SAIPA’s compliments and complaints procedure.

The costs:

RPL Application: R1,330.55(VAT inclusive).

RPL Appeal: R644,00 (VAT inclusive)

For the RPL Online Application, click here.