4 min read

How to Maintain Your IAPP Certification

Wondering about the requirements and costs of maintaining your IAPP certifications? Read this.


Did you just pass your IAPP certification exam and post your results on LinkedIn?

If so, congratulations—enjoy the moment!

Alternatively, you may be a prospective certification candidate wondering how to maintain your future IAPP certifications in good standing. You may ask yourself:

  • How long is my IAPP certification valid?
  • Do I have to retake the certification exams?
  • What are the recurring costs?
  • What are Continuing Privacy Education (CPE) credits?
  • How do I get CPE credits?
  • How many CPE credits do I need?

Ready to get your answers? Start with Too Long; Didn't Read.

Too Long; Didn't Read

IAPP certifications are valid for a two-year term after passing the exam. If you satisfy the requirements to maintain your IAPP certifications, your certifications should never expire and you never need to retake an exam.

To maintain your IAPP certification, you must pay certain recurring costs.

You must choose between paying a Certification Maintenance Fee (CMF) or becoming an IAPP member (which includes a CMF and provides other benefits). A CMF costs $250 every two years, while an IAPP membership costs $50-295 annually to maintain your IAPP certification in good standing.

Check out Maintenance Fee vs. IAPP Membership to help you with this decision.

In addition to these costs, the IAPP requires that you submit Continuing Privacy Education (CPE) credits—a demonstration of an ongoing commitment to privacy.

For each IAPP certification you hold, you must submit 20 CPE credits per two-year certification term. IAPP awards CPE credits for participating in privacy-related events like conferences and IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapters, staying up-to-date with technological advancements and privacy news, and more.

Refer to Continuing Privacy Education Credits for more information!

Congratulations! You should now have all the knowledge to maintain your IAPP certifications in good standing. If you want more detail on the recurring costs or CPE credits, check out the in-depth sections below:

  1. Maintenance Fee vs. IAPP Membership
  2. Continuing Privacy Education Credits

Maintenance Fee vs. IAPP Membership

Should you pay a Certification Maintenance Fee or become an IAPP member?

Before answering this question, it's worth mentioning that there are many benefits to becoming an IAPP member—this section focuses on one particular benefit. For more details, check out our guide to IAPP membership and whether it's worth it.

A Certification Maintenance Fee (CMF) costs $250 per two-year certification term and covers all your active IAPP certifications—you only pay one CMF even if you hold multiple IAPP certifications.

In contrast, an IAPP membership costs $50, $100, $110, or $295 per year, which includes the cost of a CMF. Depending on the type of IAPP membership, the two-year cost may be strictly cheaper than paying a CMF for the same period, and you gain all the benefits of an IAPP membership.

Check out Table 1 for a comparison between IAPP memberships and the CMF.

Table 1: Comparison between the recurring costs of IAPP membership and paying a CMF.
Type of IAPP MembershipAnnual CostBetter Than CMF?
Higher Education$110Yes

For a Professional IAPP Membership, the cost swells to $590 per two-year term compared to the $250 of the CMF—a difference of $340. Is an IAPP membership worth an extra $170 per year for professionals?

First, I would check whether your employer has a Corporate Membership or Group Membership with the IAPP. If so, you may have access to a free IAPP membership.

However, if you're paying out-of-pocket, or need to justify reimbursement to your employer, consider and evaluate the other benefits provided by IAPP membership. These other benefits include:

Despite a Professional IAPP Membership costing $340 more than a CMF for the same period, it's probably worth it for current or future certification holders.

Continuing Privacy Education Credits

Have you already decided between paying a CMF and IAPP Membership?

If so, shift your attention to Continuing Privacy Education (CPE) credits. CPE credits are a widely used mechanism across organizations like the IAPP to show that your related privacy knowledge and expertise remain current.

To maintain your IAPP certifications, you must submit 20 CPE credits per certification, per two-year term, via this form. However, the IAPP encourages you to apply the same CPE credits to as many applicable certifications as you see fit.

You can find a full list of activities eligible for CPE credits, and the amount awarded for each in the IAPP's CPE Policy. Some high-level sources of CPE credits include:

  1. Books & Whitepapers
  2. Events
  3. News
  4. Tools & Resources
  5. Training
  6. Videos
  7. Web Conferences

Where do you find activities and resources eligible for CPE credits?

Well, the IAPP provides an invaluable resource via CPE Central—the best tool to find CPE opportunities for your IAPP certifications.

CPE Central curates resources that are guaranteed to satisfy CPE requirements. Within the catalog provided, you can filter based on the applicable IAPP certifications, CPE credits awarded, whether it's free or paid, the type of resource (blog, whitepaper, web conference, etc.), and more. Don't forget to submit them!

If you hold multiple IAPP certifications, the IAPP has also simplified when CPE credits are due via term alignment.

Regardless of when your IAPP certifications are awarded, term alignment ensures your certifications are valid for the same time period. While there are some caveats (refer to the CPE Policy), this means your CPE credits across all of your IAPP certifications are due on the same day rather than being staggered.

You should now know everything you need to maintain your IAPP certifications!

Wrapping Up

I sincerely hope this post was accessible, useful, and practical for you. If you have any feedback on this post, please let me know. Cheers.