IAS 38 Intangible Assets Archives – FAQ | IFRS

IAS 38 Objective Scope Definitions


1 The objective of this Standard is to prescribe the accounting treatment for intangible assets that are not dealt with specifically in another Standard. This Standard requires an entity to recognise an intangible asset if, and only if, specified criteria are met. The Standard also specifies how to measure the carrying amount of intangible assets and requires specified disclosures about intangible assets.


2 This Standard shall be applied in accounting for intangible assets, except:

  1. intangible assets that are within the scope of another Standard;
  2. financial assets, as defined in IAS 32 Financial Instruments: Presentation;
  3. the recognition and measurement of exploration and evaluation assets (see IFRS 6 Exploration for and Evaluation of Mineral Resources); and
  4. expenditure on
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IAS 38 Intangible assets

9 Entities frequently expend resources, or incur liabilities, on the acquisition, development, maintenance or enhancement of intangible resources such as scientific or technical knowledge, design and implementation of new processes or systems, licences, intellectual property, market knowledge and trademarks (including brand names and publishing titles). Common examples of items encompassed by these broad headings are computer software, patents, copyrights, motion picture films, customer lists, mortgage servicing rights, fishing licences, import quotas, franchises, customer or supplier relationships, customer loyalty, market share and marketing rights.

10 Not all the items described in paragraph 9 meet the definition of an intangible asset, ie identifiability, control over a resource and existence of future economic benefits. If an item within the scope of this Standard Read more

IAS 38 Recognition and measurement

18 The recognition of an item as an intangible asset requires an entity to demonstrate that the item meets:

  1. the definition of an intangible asset (see paragraphs 8–17); and
  2. the recognition criteria (see paragraphs 21–23).

This requirement applies to costs incurred initially to acquire or internally generate an intangible asset and those incurred subsequently to add to, replace part of, or service it.

19 Paragraphs 25–32 deal with the application of the recognition criteria to separately acquired intangible assets, and paragraphs 33–43 deal with their application to intangible assets acquired in a business combination. Paragraph 44 deals with the initial measurement of intangible assets acquired by way of a government grant, paragraphs 45–47 with exchanges of intangible assets, and paragraphs Read more

IAS 38 Recognition of an expense

68 Expenditure on an intangible item shall be recognised as an expense when it is incurred unless:

  1. it forms part of the cost of an intangible asset that meets the recognition criteria (see paragraphs 18–67); or
  2. the item is acquired in a business combination and cannot be recognised as an intangible asset. If this is the case, it forms part of the amount recognised as goodwill at the acquisition date (see IFRS 3).

69 In some cases, expenditure is incurred to provide future economic benefits to an entity, but no intangible asset or other asset is acquired or created that can be recognised. In the case of the supply of goods, the entity recognises such expenditure as an expense when Read more

IAS 38 Revaluation model

75 After initial recognition, an intangible asset shall be carried at a revalued amount, being its fair value at the date of the revaluation less any subsequent accumulated amortisation and any subsequent accumulated impairment losses. For the purpose of revaluations under this Standard, fair value shall be measured by reference to an active market. Revaluations shall be made with such regularity that at the end of the reporting period the carrying amount of the asset does not differ materially from its fair value.

76 The revaluation model does not allow:

  1. the revaluation of intangible assets that have not previously been recognised as assets; or
  2. the initial recognition of intangible assets at amounts other than cost.

77 The revaluation model is Read more

IAS 38 Useful life

88 An entity shall assess whether the useful life of an intangible asset is finite or indefinite and, if finite, the length of, or number of production or similar units constituting, that useful life. An intangible asset shall be regarded by the entity as having an indefinite useful life when, based on an analysis of all of the relevant factors, there is no foreseeable limit to the period over which the asset is expected to generate net cash inflows for the entity.

89 The accounting for an intangible asset is based on its useful life. An intangible asset with a finite useful life is amortised (see paragraphs 97–106), and an intangible asset with an indefinite useful life is not (see Read more

IAS 38 Intangible assets with finite useful lives

Amortisation period and amortisation method

97 The depreciable amount of an intangible asset with a finite useful life shall be allocated on a systematic basis over its useful life. Amortisation shall begin when the asset is available for use, ie when it is in the location and condition necessary for it to be capable of operating in the manner intended by management. Amortisation shall cease at the earlier of the date that the asset is classified as held for sale (or included in a disposal group that is classified as held for sale) in accordance with IFRS 5 and the date that the asset is derecognised. The amortisation method used shall reflect the pattern in which the asset’s future economic Read more

IAS 38 Intangible assets with indefinite useful lives

107 An intangible asset with an indefinite useful life shall not be amortised.

108 In accordance with IAS 36, an entity is required to test an intangible asset with an indefinite useful life for impairment by comparing its recoverable amount with its carrying amount

  1. annually, and
  2. whenever there is an indication that the intangible asset may be impaired.

Review of useful life assessment

109 The useful life of an intangible asset that is not being amortised shall be reviewed each period to determine whether events and circumstances continue to support an indefinite useful life assessment for that asset. If they do not, the change in the useful life assessment from indefinite to finite shall be accounted for as a change Read more

IAS 38 Impairment losses

Recoverability of the carrying amount—impairment losses

111 To determine whether an intangible asset is impaired, an entity applies IAS 36. That Standard explains when and how an entity reviews the carrying amount of its assets, how it determines the recoverable amount of an asset and when it recognises or reverses an impairment loss.Read more

IAS 38 Retirements and disposals

112 An intangible asset shall be derecognised:

  1. on disposal; or
  2. when no future economic benefits are expected from its use or disposal.

113 The gain or loss arising from the derecognition of an intangible asset shall be determined as the difference between the net disposal proceeds, if any, and the carrying amount of the asset. It shall be recognised in profit or loss when the asset is derecognised (unless IFRS 16 requires otherwise on a sale and leaseback.) Gains shall not be classified as revenue.

114 The disposal of an intangible asset may occur in a variety of ways (eg by sale, by entering into a finance lease, or by donation). The date of disposal of an intangible asset is Read more