Mastering IFRS 16 compliance: A comprehensive guide

An introduction

Introduced by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in 2019, the International Financial Reporting Standard 16 (IFRS 16) represents a significant change in lease accounting that aims to improve transparency and consistency in financial reporting related to leases.

IFRS 16 brings fundamental changes in how leases are recognized, measured, and presented in financial statements. This is why the identification of lease agreements, valuation of assets and liabilities, accurate financial reporting, and the adjustment of existing processes require a deep understanding of the standards.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to mastering IFRS 16 compliance and understanding its implications for businesses.

Understanding IFRS 16 Lessee Accounting

IFRS 16, effective from January 1, 2019, introduces a single lessee accounting model. Under this model, lessees are required to recognize most leases on their balance sheet, a departure from the previous practice where many leases were treated as off-balance-sheet operating leases. The primary objective of IFRS 16 is to ensure that lessees provide a more faithful representation of their leasing activities in financial statements.

Key features of IFRS 16 include:

  • Right-of-use asset (ROU): Lessees recognize a right-of-use asset and a corresponding lease liability for most leases. The ROU asset represents the right to use the leased asset throughout the lease term.
  • Lease liability: This represents the lessee's obligation to make lease payments to the lessor during the lease term.
    Lease term: The lease term comprises the non-cancellable period of the lease and any options to extend or terminate the lease.
  • Lease payments: Lease payments include fixed payments, variable lease payments based on an index or a rate, and amounts expected to be payable under residual value guarantees.

6 steps to master IFRS 16 compliance

To ensure compliance with IFRS 16, organizations need to undertake several key steps.

1. Identify leases

The first step is to identify all lease agreements within the organization. Leases can range from equipment, to buildings, vehicles, and more. It's important to assess the agreements to determine whether they meet the criteria for a lease as per IFRS 16.

2. Gather lease data

Collect all relevant lease data, including lease terms, payments, options, and any other pertinent information. This data will be crucial for accurately calculating lease liabilities and right-of-use assets.

3. Perform lease classification

Lessees must classify leases as either finance leases or operating leases based on specific criteria. Finance leases are recognized on the balance sheet, whereas operating leases are disclosed off-balance sheet but with additional lease-related disclosures.

4. Calculate lease liabilities and right-of-use assets

Determine the present value of lease payments to calculate lease liabilities and right-of-use assets. This involves discounting future cash flows using an appropriate discount rate.

5. Amend financial statements

Update the financial statements to reflect the new lease accounting standards. This includes recognizing the right-of-use assets and lease liabilities on the balance sheet.

6. Implement new systems and processes

Implement or modify systems and processes to accurately track and report lease-related data in compliance with IFRS 16. This may involve software solutions that facilitate lease accounting and reporting. Contavio is a great option for managing and reporting your IFRS 16 data, as it can be easily integrated into your existing processes.

Challenges and benefits of IFRS 16 compliance


  • Complexity: Implementing IFRS 16 can be complex due to the detailed calculations and data requirements.

  • Systems integration: Companies may face challenges integrating the necessary systems to effectively manage lease data and comply with the standard.

  • Training and education: Staff need adequate training to understand the new standard and ensure compliance.


  • Improved transparency: IFRS 16 enhances transparency by bringing most leases onto the balance sheet, providing a clearer picture of a company's financial position and performance.

  • Comparability: The new standard enables better comparability across entities and industries as lease accounting becomes more consistent.

  • Better decision-making: With a more accurate representation of lease obligations, stakeholders can make informed decisions regarding an organization's financial health and risk profile.

Mastering IFRS 16 compliance: A conclusion

Mastering IFRS 16 compliance is essential for organizations aiming to accurately present their lease-related financial information. Understanding the intricacies of IFRS 16 and following the necessary steps to comply with the standard ensures that financial reporting is in line with globally accepted accounting principles, contributing to increased transparency and informed decision-making in the business world. Stay updated with any revisions or updates to IFRS 16 to maintain compliance and stay ahead in the evolving landscape of lease accounting.

Published on Feb. 5, 2019