Starting up in practice

Taking the plunge; ICAS can help you get started

Making the decision to start up in practice on your own is a big move and whilst it can take a lot of hard work and commitment it can be hugely rewarding. ICAS has approximately 1,000 different firms ranging from sole practitioners based at home, working around family commitments, through to large corporate practices.

Making the decision to set up in practice

ICAS can help you in a number of ways:

Career Choices - The Practice Option PDF [85 KB]

This help sheet provides useful advice if you are thinking about setting up in practice.

Guide to when a practising certificate is required PDF [419 KB]

This guide highlights when a Practising Certificate is required. It provides useful guidance for those working on a contractor/freelance basis and those individuals who are providing accounting services but are unsure if they require a Practising Certificate.

What do I need to do to set up in practice?

ICAS can provide the following help and support:

ICAS Practice Support is happy to talk you through all the matters you need to consider in setting up your own practice. Practice Support can be contacted on 0131 347 0249.

There are a number of regulatory considerations to think about such as applying for a PC and obtaining PII. Our Regulatory authorisations department can help with these matters. If you would like advice please phone 0131 347 0286 or email

If your firm is eligible, ICAS will provide you with the General Practice Procedures Manual (GPPM) free of charge which will provide you tools and procedures you need to run an effective practice for free.

ICAS will be offering newly set up firms the opportunity of having a Practice Support visit by one of our practice experts. Practice Support visits will be for up to a day and will be free, although we will request that travel costs be reimbursed. To register your interest, please contact us at

We are in the process of rewriting new guidance on specific aspects of setting up in practice and would invite those considering the move to revisit this area in future to access these additional materials. In the meantime, please contact Practice Support if you need assistance on or 0131 3470249.

For guidance on what you should include on your new firms' stationery, please see our Letterhead Guidance PDF [290 KB]

Practising Certificate and Professional Indemnity Insurance

All ICAS principals in your firm will need to have a Practising Certificate (PC). Any principals who are members of other bodies will require to check with their membership body whether they require a PC.

Visit the PC section of our website which will provide you with all the information you will need to apply for a PC.

Obtaining Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)

Your firm will require to obtain PII. Please see the PII section of the website to find out all you need to know about obtaining PII.

Regulatory authorisations

If your firm intends to provide the following services to clients please visit the Regulatory Authorisations section of our website which provides useful guidance on how to become licensed to conduct:

  • Audit work
  • Insolvency services
  • Restricted investment business through the Designated Professional Body (DPB) regime
  • Consumer credit activities, including referring clients to a finance company for payments of fees or allowing fee payment by instalment


Once you have set up in practice, your firm will usually get a Practice Monitoring visit after you have submitted your first Firms Annual Return. If you have an audit registration or insolvency licence you will also be subject to audit or insolvency monitoring

Attending the practice management course

ICAS' Practice Management course is a mandatory requirement for all PC holders once every five years.. This course should be of benefit to all PC Holders and provide a full regulatory and technical update as well as allowing the opportunity to meet fellow practitioners and members of the ICAS team. All new PC holders will need to attend the morning session of the course within 12 months of obtaining their PC.


  • Practice hub

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