About Certified Exchange Specialists®



To increase the professionalism of the 1031 exchange industry and foster public confidence when selecting a 1031 exchange accommodator, the FEA administers a Certification and Continuing Education Program (the CES® Program).  The CES® program confers the designation of Certified Exchange Specialist® (CES®) upon those qualified individuals who meet specific work-experience criteria and pass an examination on 1031 exchange laws and procedures.

The CES® examination covers an array of exchange-related topics designed to challenge the candidate's knowledge of 1031 exchange rules and competency in performing the critical activities of an exchange accommodator.  The test also focuses on those ethical issues that emerge when any third-party controls the funds of another.

The Certified Exchange Specialist® (CES®) designation demonstrates to a taxpayer considering a 1031 exchange that the professional they have chosen possesses a certain level of experience and knowledge.  Just as when one selects a Certified Public Accountant or real estate professional, it is important to review the credentials of any advisor prior to beginning a business relationship.




How Was the CES® Program Developed?

The eligibility requirements and examination materials for the CES® Program were developed by a national panel of experts, the CES® Certification Council.  They established criteria for necessary work experience, identified the body of knowledge for 1031 exchange accommodation and determined the content areas appropriate for the examination.

A professional consultant is retained to provide assistance with the development of the examination.  The consultant specializes in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of such certification programs.  

The CES® examination has been designed to meet testing industry standards for validity and reliability.  All questions are written by 1031 exchange specialists and reviewed by a panel of experts prior to being selected for the examination.


What Is the Purpose of the CES® Program?

The purposes of the CES® Program are to:

  • establish nationally recognized standards of knowledge for 1031 exchange specialists;
  • assess the level of knowledge demonstrated by 1031 exchange specialists in a valid and reliable manner;
  • encourage professional development in the 1031 exchange accommodation field;
  • formally recognize individuals who meet the requirements set by the CES® Certification Council; and
  • serve the public by encouraging quality 1031 exchange accommodation services.
The CES® Certification Council, with the assistance and advice of professionals in relevant fields, has developed a credential that recognizes accepted levels of expertise in the industry with the goal of improving professional standards in 1031 exchange services.  The CES® Certification Council welcomes constructive comments and suggestions from the public and the qualified intermediary community.


Visit the CES® website for more information


CES® FAQs


Why did the FEA initiate the CES® program?
The Certified Exchange Specialist® designation was created to increase the professionalism of the 1031 exchange industry and foster public confidence when selecting an exchange accommodator.

Who is eligible to become CES® certified?
The exam is only available to those who possess specific work-experience criteria.  The CES® designation is awarded to those who pass an exam on 1031 exchange-related topics designed to challenge the candidate's knowledge of 1031 exchange rules.  The exam also tests competency when performing the critical activities of an exchange facilitator and ethical issues that may emerge during a 1031 exchange.

The CES® designation demonstrates to a taxpayer considering an exchange that the exchange accommodator they have chosen possesses a certain level of experience and knowledge.

Who administers the CES® exam?
The services of professional certification consultants were retained in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of the examination.  The examination is administered by the CES® Certification Council.

When was the first CES® exam conducted?
The first CES® exam was conducted in May, 2003, in Washington, DC. The first designates (70 in total) were recognized at the 2003 FEA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV, later that year.

Are there any eligibility exemptions available to certain professionals such as attorneys or CPA's?
No.  All applicants must meet the eligibility requirements in order to take the CES® examination.

If I do not meet all of the requirements at this time, can I still become certified?
No.  You must meet the minimum work experience requirement and take the exam to become certified.  If you do not meet all of the necessary qualifications, you will not be allowed to sit for the exam.

Who administers the CES® exam?
FEA has retained the services of professional consultants in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of the examination. The examination is administered by the CES® Council. 

When was the first CES® exam conducted?
The first CES® exam was conducted in May, 2003. The first designates (70 in total) were recognized at the 2003 FEA National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
Who administers the CES® exam?
FEA has retained the services of professional consultants in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of the examination. The examination is administered by the CES® Council. 

When was the first CES® exam conducted?
The first CES® exam was conducted in May, 2003. The first designates (70 in total) were recognized at the 2003 FEA National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
Who administers the CES® exam?
FEA has retained the services of professional consultants in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of the examination. The examination is administered by the CES® Council. 

When was the first CES® exam conducted?
The first CES® exam was conducted in May, 2003. The first designates (70 in total) were recognized at the 2003 FEA National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.