EA Initial Enrollment Cycle Overview

Help for new Enrolled Agents

What is the “initial enrollment cycle”?

Your enrollment date is based on the last digit of your social security number.

When you first become an enrolled agent, the period up until your first re-enrollment date is considered your “initial enrollment cycle,” and it is normally less than 3 years or 36 months.

  • EXCEPT if you receive your initial enrollment between November 1st and December 31st of the third year of an enrollment cycle, you will renew after the first full renewal period, and your initial cycle will have 37-38 months in it instead of the normal 36 or fewer months.

The shortest possible initial enrollment cycle is three months.  This would occur if you got your EA card in October of the third year of your enrollment cycle.

CPE Requirements for the initial enrollment cycle

New Enrolled Agents should complete an average of 2 hours of CPE for each month enrolled during the enrollment cycle.

An EA must complete 2 hours of Ethics per calendar year, regardless of enrollment date. The ethics hours are included in the total CPE hours required.

How many CPE hours will I need?

During the initial enrollment period, CE hours required are pro-rated based on your enrollment date.  You usually need less than the 72 hours required in the standard enrollment cycle. 

I am in my initial enrollment cycle and my Social Security number ends in:

0, 1, 2 or 3

7, 8 or 9 or none

When is my renewal date?

Your renewal date is based on the last digit of your social security number. This chart shows the next series of renewal dates and related CPE reporting periods.

SSN Ends


Cycle Ends


Renew By


Effective Date


Years in your CE Cycle


Do I have to take exactly 2 hours of CE each month?

No.  The CE requirement is calculated on the basis of 2 hours per month, but you can take your CE at any time during the calendar year. For example, if your enrollment date is in September, you are enrolled for 4 months of the year and need 4 x 2 = 8 hours of CE by December 31st of that year. You could take all 8 hours of CE in September, October, November or December if you wanted to.

You must complete a minimum of 16 hours of CPE per year, unless your enrollment date was after May of your first year, in which case case your calculated hours for the first year will be less than 16.

If I take more than my requirement in one year, can I carry over the excess CE to the next year?

Yes, to some extent.  You need 16 hours per year minimum, or less if your calculated hours in the first year is less.  For example if you enrolled in September, you only need 8 hours (4 months x 2 hours/month).

Excess hours over your calculated amount can be carried over to the next year, to the extent you can use them along with getting the necessary 16 hours per year. If it is the last year of your cycle though, you cannot carryover any excess hours from one cycle to the next cycle.

See more details about the standard enrollment cycle here.

Will courses I took before receiving my EA License count towards EA CPE requirements?

No, any courses completed prior to the effective date of your license cannot be used to satisfy Enrolled Agent CPE requirements.

Common mistake when filing renewal

Even though your Enrolled Agent license card shows an expiration date of March 31, 20xx, your renewal is due by January 31st of the renewal year.  This January due date gives the IRS two months to process the renewals and mail you a new license.

Do I need a PTIN if I have an Enrolled Agent’s license?

Enrolled Agents must also have a current PTIN.  The PTIN is renewed annually and is separate from the EA license renewal. Renew your PTIN through the IRS website annually between October 16th and December 31st.  EAs must have a current PTIN regardless of whether or not they prepare tax returns.

Will I receive a renewal notice from the IRS?

No, most likely you will not. The IRS is apparently no longer mailing notices to remind you of your upcoming renewal.  Go ahead and mark you renewal date on your calendar.  Your renewal can then be filed between November 1st and January 31st.

“Failure to receive notification from the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility of the renewal requirement will not be justification for the individual’s failure to satisfy this requirement.”
–Treasury Dept. Circular No. 230

You still should submit an address change if you have moved.

What is the cost of renewal?

Effective November 1, 2019 the Enrolled Agent renewal fee increases to $67 for the renewal cycle (normally 3 years unless it is your initial enrollment period).

From March 31, 2011 to October 31, 2019 the Enrolled Agent cost of renewal was $30 (every 3 years). 

How to file and pay

We recommend filing and paying electronically (option #2) as the IRS is able to process your renewal quickly.  

We have heard reports from our EA students that mailing your 8554 renewal can cause the renewal to take 3 months or more for processing.

For specific instructions, view our video of “How to renew your EA license.

Option #1:  File by mail and pay by check

You can fill out form 8554 onlineand print the filled out form to mail, along with your check.

Option # 2:  File and pay electronically (preferred)

Fill out the form at www.pay.gov and submit your payment.

Questions? Comments?

We know the CPE requirements for the initial enrollment period can be confusing--please email us or call us (877-738-6273) if you need any clarification.  The information we need will be:

1) last digit of your social security number or whether you have a social security number

2) issue date of your Enrolled Agent license

3) how much CPE has been reported so far to your account on the IRS PTIN system