What are International Accounting Standards?

International Accounting Standards are accounting standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and its predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC).

Standards (IAS/IFRS)

From 1973 until 2000 the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) released a series of International Accounting Standards (IAS). In 2001 the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) was replaced by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and all new standards published since then have been issued as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

The text of unaccompanied standards (which are the current year’s consolidated standards, excluding additional content such as illustrative examples and basis for conclusions) are freely available from the IASB website. Registration is required.

Listed companies, and sometimes unlisted companies, are required to use the standards in their financial statements in those countries which have adopted them.

The EU regulation 1606/2002 on the application of international accounting standards made this a requirement for listed companies in the European Union. For other jurisdictions, please see our page on the worldwide adoption of IFRS.

History and development

Our timeline highlights some of the most significant dates in the history of international accounting standards. It covers the period from the 1960s to 2005 when listed companies in the UK were required to present their financial statements using international standards. Please note it is not intended to be a comprehensive list of developments between these dates.


The history of International Accounting Standards really began in 1966, with the proposal to establish an International Study Group comprising:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) (now known as Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada).


In February 1967 this resulted in the foundation of the Accountants International Study Group (AISG), which began to publish papers on important topics every few months and created an appetite for change. Many of these papers led the way for the standards that followed, when in March 1973 it was finally agreed to establish an international body writing accounting standards for international use.


In June 1973 the IASC came into existence, with the stated intent that the new international standards it released must ‘be capable of rapid acceptance and implementation world-wide’. The IASC survived for 27 years, until 2001, when the organisation was restructured and the IASC was replaced by the IASB.

Between 1973 and 2000 the IASC released a series of standards called International Accounting Standards (IAS) in a numerical sequence that began with IAS 1 and ended with IAS 41 Agriculture, which was published in December 2000.


The Standing Interpretations Committee (SIC) was established in 1997 to consider contentious accounting issues that needed authoritative guidance to stop widespread variation in practice.