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IAS 38 Intangible Assets

IAS 38 Intangible Assets sets out the recognition criteria, measurement bases and disclosure requirements for intangible assets not dealt with specifically in another standard.

Revised March 2004. Effective 31 March 2004.

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*UK qualifying parents and subsidiaries can take advantage of FRS 101 Reduced Disclosure Framework. Find out more on which entities qualify and the criteria to be met.


An intangible asset is recognised (at cost) only if:

  • It meets the definition of an intangible asset (including a requirement to be identifiable), and
  • It is probable that the asset will result in a flow of economic benefits to an entity, and
  • The cost of the asset can be reliably measured.

Application of these criteria means that the costs associated with most internally generated intangible assets are expensed to profit or loss. An exception is development costs which meet further recognition criteria, as stipulated in the standard.

Subsequent to initial recognition, an entity must choose either the cost or revaluation model for each class of intangible assets, although the revaluation model may only be applied where fair value can be determined by reference to an active market as defined in the standard.

Intangible assets with a finite life must be amortised on a systematic basis over their useful life. Intangible assets with an infinite life should not be amortised. All intangible assets should be assessed for impairment in accordance with IAS 36.

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Annual period starts
Effective version of standard
Notes on amendments 
On or after 1 January 2021 IAS 38 2019 Issued Standards
Includes amendments 1- 4
1 January 2020 – 31 December 2020
IAS 38 2020 Required Standards
Includes amendments 1, 2 and 4
1 January 2019 – 31 December 2019
IAS 38 2019 Required Standards
Includes amendments 1 and 2
1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018
IAS 38 2018 Required Standards
Includes amendment 1
1 January 2017 – 31 December 2017
IAS 38 2017 Required Standards
Does not include any amendments

The Required Standards book for a particular year assumes that there is no early application of issued but not yet effective IFRSs; The Issued Standards book assumes early application of all issued IFRSs.

For the latest version of the standard, and where the amendments are to be adopted early, refer to IAS 38 2019 Issued Standards.

Recent amendments

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*Not EU endorsed as at 30 January 2020. Read more on EU endorsement.

The following interpretations refer to IAS 38

UK reduced disclosures

UK qualifying parents and subsidiaries can take advantage of FRS 101 Reduced Disclosure Framework. Find out more on which entities qualify and the criteria to be met.

Amendments to the standard

There are no amendments to the standard in order to comply with the Companies Act and related Regulations.

Disclosure exemptions

FRS 101 paragraph 8(f) states that a qualifying entity is exempt from the requirement to disclose a reconciliation of the carrying amount of intangible assets at the beginning and end of the comparative period.

IAS 38 paragraph for which exemption is available: 118(e) (comparative period only). 

This page was last updated 30 January 2020.