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Application of International Standards on Auditing (ISA) in Germany

The auditing standards of the Institute of Public Auditors in Germany (Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer, IDW) (IDW AuS) that are currently applicable for the statutory audits of financial statements constitute a set of guidelines that were developed over time and where the individual standards do not follow a uniform format. For example, in some of the IDW AuS, a clear distinction is made between requirements and application guidance – in line with the International Standards on Auditing (ISA [DE]) – in others this is however not the case.

The background to the introduction of ISA [DE] or the new ‘GoA’

The ISA [DE] constitute a consistent and clearly structured German language version of the generally accepted standards for audits of financial statements set by the IAASB [referred to in German as: Grundsätze ordnungsmäßiger Abschlussprüfung, or GoA for short]. The previous transformation methods that had been applied to the IDW auditing standards (IDW AuS) will be stopped. The 26 ISA [DE] together with the 16 IDW AuS will make up the German Generally Accepted Standards for Financial Statement Audits (GoA) established by the IDW. These IDW AuS will always be applied if there is no other rule for a specific issue in the ISA [DE] such as, for example, for the management report, which is a national financial reporting tool. 

Benefits resulting from the introduction of ISA [DE]

From the point of view of the IDW, the benefits that will ensue from the introduction of ISA [DE] will be, in particular, the following:

  • discontinuation of the parallel existence of national and international standards along with an end to the corresponding need for coordination because the globally accepted standards will be used directly,
  • enhanced consistency of audits,
  • elimination of the duplication of work arising from the application of ISA [DE] and IDW AuS,
  • use of standardised audit manuals and quality assurance methods in the international network,
  • national law requirements will ne taken into account via ‘D paragraphs’ in the ISA [DE].

Timing of the transition to ISA in German auditing practice

First of all, the practical implications of the transition will play a role in the decision about its timing. These implications include adapting the following documents and/or audit resources to the new GoA:

  • internal audit manuals,
  • standardised worksheets,
  • any audit software that is used.


After having been postponed twice, the first-time application of ISA [DE] will be for audits of financial statements for periods starting after 15.12.2021 (PIEs) or after 15.12.2022 (Non-PIEs). Voluntary early application is allowed. The decision in favour of voluntary early application will have to be recorded in the engagement documentation or a central office in the auditing practice.

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