Professional Bookkeeper Associations


Which one should I join?

It is important to appreciate that it is not now, or is it expected to be in the future, compulsory for a bookkeeper to join a professional association.

There however a number of good reasons to join a Bookkeeper Association, including moral support, recognition, status, networking, lobbying and technical support - including publications, templates, technical advice, seminars and professional development.

Furthermore if you belong to a Recognised BAS Agent Association you may only have to undertake 1,000 hours of relevant experience (in the three years preceding registration) compared with 1,400 if you do not belong.

However perhaps the most important reason is that it will give your prospective clients more confidence in your experience and ability.

Associations for Bookkeepers

There are four organisations that offer memberships for bookkeepers, two of them are not-for-profit' (NFP) associations and the two are 'fee-for-service' (FFS) organisations. All four organisations were represented on the ATO BAS Agent Advisory Group (BASAAG) which focuses on providing input to shape the design and build of administrative interactions between bookkeepers and the Tax Office.  The four organisations are:

Association Type  Annual fee Entrance requirements 
ABN Australian Bookkeepers Network FFS $462 NONE 
ICB Institute of Certified Bookkeepers NFP $360 (employed bookkeeper)
$480 (practicing contract  bookkeeper)
ICB Level I, Level II and Level III exams or a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and a statement of experience from a client, employer or accountant and a copy of your CV 
AAT Association of Accounting Technicians NFP $250 + $132 joining fee Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or  (Accounting) and a reference to support 1 years work experience


ABN — Australian Bookkeepers Network  

The Australian Bookkeepers Network (ABN) helps bookkeepers build bigger and better businesses by providing them with the right support, tools and resources. ABN has served the bookkeeping industry since 2001 and in that time has grown to become Australia’s largest private representative body for self-employed and contract bookkeepers.

ABN is very different to not-for-profit bookkeeping associations. They are a private organisation with a focus on providing bookkeepers with commercial solutions and value-for-money resources and support, whereas associations typically have their prime focus on professional standards and ethics, and representation to government.

BIA believes that this ongoing partnership with ABN will strengthen both organisations and will be of considerable benefit to new bookkeepers entering the industry.

ICB — Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers is the largest bookkeeping institute in the world. It promotes and maintains the standards of bookkeeping as a profession, through the establishment of a series of qualifications that are relevant to the needs of business and it awards levels of membership that reward academic attainment, working experience and competence.

In Australia, the ICB provides bookeepers with the co-operative forum to be the best they can be. It is about bookkeepers: Bookkeepers helping bookkeepers help business.
The ICB aims to bring certainty to the bookkeeping profession and all involved and affected by it. It answers the questions: What does a bookkeeper do? How skilled is this bookkeeper? How do I prove my bookkeeping skills? How do I improve my bookkeeping skills? How do I do bookkeeping better? What are the benefits of being part of a professional organisation for bookkeepers?  

Matthew Addison (ICB Australia\'s Executive Director) states: "The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers brings a certainty to the developing bookkeeping industry. Accountants, businesses and government seem to be looking for a structure to understand bookkeeping and the competence of bookkeepers. ICB will accredit, assist and inform bookkeepers and the community thereby increasing the structure and definition of the industry. ICB is a member based, not for profit, professional association: bookkeepers helping bookkeepers." 

 BIA supports ICB and recommends that all bookkeepers who wish to belong to a professional not-for-profit association join ICB. All BIA students are entitled to join ICB as a student member at a discounted fee.


AAT — Association of Accounting Technicians

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Australia is the country’s largest paraprofessional body in the accounting /finance/bookkeeping sector and is the only association that has the support of the three professional bodies in CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants.

 AAT Australia membership provides a commitment to high standards, professionalism, recognition and status for paraprofessional accounting technicians including self employed bookkeepers; payroll officers; BAS Agents; assistant accountants, accounts payable/receivable officers and other accounting support staff.”

Recognised BAS Agent Associations

The Tax Agent Services (TAS) Regulations 2009 state that in order to become a registered BAS Agent you not only need to hold a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping, or higher, which includes a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles approved by the Tax Practitioners Board, but you also need to have “undertaken at least 1,400 hours of relevant experience in the preceding three years.”

However the TAS Regulations 2009 also states that “Membership of professional association – a recognised BAS agent association or a recognised tax agent association” means that you only need to have “undertaken at least 1,000 hours of relevant experience in the preceding three years.”

To become a recognised BAS agent association, an organisation must:

  1. Be a non-profit organisation;

  2. Have adequate corporate governance and operational procedures to ensure that:

    • it is properly managed; and

    • its internal rules are enforced

  3. Have professional and ethical standards for its voting members, including terms to the effect that:

    • voting members must undertake at least 15 hours of continuing professional education each year; and voting members must be of good fame, integrity and character; and

    • each voting member is subject to rules controlling the member’s conduct in the practice of the member’s profession; and

    • each voting member is subject to discipline for breaches of those rules; and

    • if a voting member is permitted by that organisation to be in public practice, the voting member has professional indemnity insurance

  4. Have satisfactory arrangements in place for:

    • notifying clients of its members, or of members of its member bodies, about how to make complaints; and

    • receiving, hearing and deciding those complaints; and

    • taking disciplinary action if complaints are justified

  5. Have satisfactory arrangements in place for publishing annual statistics about:

    • the kinds and frequency of complaints (except complaints under the TASA about entities registered under the TASA); and

    • findings made as a result of the complaints; and

    • action taken as a result of those findings

  6. Be able to pay its debts as they fall due

  7. Have management of the organisation which:

    • is required to be accountable to its members; and

    • is required to abide by the corporate governance and operational procedures of the organisation.

  8. Have at least 1,000 voting members, of whom at least 500 are registered BAS agents

  9. Ensure each voting member has been awarded at least a Certificate IV Financial Services (bookkeeping) or a Certificate IV Financial Services (accounting), from:

    • a registered training organisation; or

    • an equivalent institution.

In May 2010 the Tax Practitioners Board announced that the following BAS agent associations have been recognised:

Name of association Date of accreditation
Association of Accounting Technicians (Australia) Limited 5-May-10
*Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Australia and New Zealand 12-May-10
*CPA Australia 31-May-10
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers 5-May-10
*Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia 12-May-10
*National Institute of Accountants 5-May-10

Of these six associations four of them (marked *) were already recognised Tax agent associations and a fifth – the AAT – is an association (owned by NIA, CPA and ICAA) for trainee accountants and paraprofessional accounting technicians.

That leaves the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) as the only recognised professional bookkeeper association in Australia.


  • The Australian Bookkeepers Network (ABN) is a for-profit bookkeeping association and consequently is not eligible for recognition as a BAS agent association by way of the first requirement.

  • There used to be a bookkeeper organisation called the Australian Association of Professional Bookkeepers (AAPB) but they have apparently become very difficult to contact and we presume that as they have not been recognised by the Board as a BAS agent association that they do not meet the criteria.

Associations for Accountants

In Australia there are seven (7) professional accounting associations, recognised by the ATO. Of these associations all but two (NIA and ATMA) require that their members not only hold an accounting degree but that they have also undertaken further postgraduate study in accounting.

However you can join either the National Institute of Accountants (NIA) or the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants (ATMA) as an associate member if you hold an Advanced Diploma in Accounting; or if you hold a University Degree majoring in Accounting you can join either association as a full member, provided you meet their experience criteria.

Membership of either the ATMA or NIA enabled a bookkeeper to legally lodge BAS returns in accordance with section 251L(6)a of ITAA 1936 and automatically made a member eligible for transitional BAS Agent registration.

The seven firms are:


CPA Australia


Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia


National Institute of Accountants


Association of Chartered Certified Accountants


Association of Taxation and Management Accountants


Chartered Institute of Management Accountants


Taxation Institute of Australia