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IAS 21 The Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates

Standard 2024 Issued
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An entity may carry on foreign activities in two ways. It may have transactions in foreign currencies or it may have foreign operations. IAS 21 prescribes how an entity should:

  • account for  foreign currency transactions; 
  • translate financial statements of a foreign operation into the entity’s functional currency; and
  • translate the entity’s financial statements into a presentation currency, if different from the entity’s functional currency. IAS 21 permits an entity to present its financial statements in any currency (or currencies).

The principal issues are which exchange rate(s) to use and how to report the effects of changes in exchange rates in the financial statements.

An entity’s functional currency is the currency of the primary economic environment in which the entity operates (ie the environment in which it primarily generates and expends cash). Any other currency is a foreign currency.

Standard history

In April 2001 the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) adopted IAS 21 The Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates, which had originally been issued by the International Accounting Standards Committee in December 1983. IAS 21 The Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates replaced IAS 21 Accounting for the Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates (issued in July 1983).

In December 2003 the IASB issued a revised IAS 21 as part of its initial agenda of technical projects. The revised IAS 21 also incorporated the guidance contained in three related Interpretations (SIC‑11 Foreign Exchange—Capitalisation of Losses Resulting from Severe Currency Devaluations, SIC‑19 Reporting Currency—Measurement and Presentation of Financial Statements under IAS 21 and IAS 29 and SIC‑30 Reporting Currency—Translation from Measurement Currency to Presentation Currency). The Board also amended SIC‑7 Introduction of the Euro.

The IASB amended IAS 21 in December 2005 to require that some types of exchange differences arising from a monetary item should be separately recognised as equity.

Other Standards have made minor consequential amendments to IAS 21. They include Improvements to IFRSs (issued May 2010), IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements (issued May 2011), IFRS 11 Joint Arrangements (issued May 2011), IFRS 13 Fair Value Measurement (issued May 2011), Presentation of Items of Other Comprehensive Income (Amendments to IAS 1) (issued June 2011), IFRS 9 Financial Instruments (Hedge Accounting and amendments to IFRS 9, IFRS 7 and IAS 39) (issued November 2013), IFRS 9 Financial Instruments (issued July 2014), IFRS 16 Leases (issued January 2016) and Amendments to References to the Conceptual Framework in IFRS Standards (issued March 2018).