Extensible business reporting language (XBRL): Overview

XBRL: What it is, how it started and where to learn more about it.

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) support XBRL Canada, the Canadian jurisdiction of XBRL International. Its mandate is to support the adoption of XBRL in Canada.

What is XBRL?

XBRL is a globally recognized standard for electronic reporting of business and financial information. It involves tagging data with information that helps to define the data and therefore make it useful to consumers of data. For example, financial statements expressed in XBRL contain, with each data item, information about the accounting standards that were used in the preparation of that item.

The history of XBRL

Based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), XBRL was developed in the early 21st century and formalized under the direction of XBRL International, a global consortium of major companies and organizations that saw the benefit of transparent electronic reporting.

Since then, XBRL has been widely adopted around the world. One major adopter close to home is the SEC in the U.S., which requires all companies filing with it and using US GAAP to file in XBRL. Plans are underway to require all its filers using IFRS to use XBRL as well. Some 350 Canadian companies will also be affected by this rule.

More information

For further information about XBRL in Canada, check the XBRL Canada website.

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