iXBRL or XHTML: An ESEF Technical Briefing

With the ESEF reporting requirement coming into effect in the first quarter of 2022 for UK based listed companies, there is an important distinction to be made with regards to the type of reporting needed to be made by each company.

There are two aspects to the ESEF reporting requirement:

XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language)

iXBRL tagging (Inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language)

XHTML is a hybrid of HTML and XML and is a web based language; easily viewable on any internet browser.  It encapsulates the visual rendering of documents as well as providing a standard protocol to add tagging information if required.

iXBRL is the common reporting standard used to electronically tag accounts according to the rules stipulated by the relevant authority, in this case ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority) as applied by the FCA (Financial Conduct authority) in the UK.  This tagging information is embedded within the XHTML file.

Therefore all companies must report in XHTML but not all companies need to apply iXBRL tagging to their accounts.

What type of financial accounts need to include iXBRL tagging?

All consolidated financial reports prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The resultant ESEF file will be in XHTML format and include iXBRL tags embedded within the XHTML.

In 2022 (for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2021), only the primary financial statements need to be marked up with iXBRL tags utilising the ESEF taxonomy.

From 2023 (for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2022), block tagging of the notes to the consolidated financial statements becomes mandatory.

What type of financial accounts need only to be in XHTML without any tagging?

Non-consolidated financial reports (in IFRS or in national GAAP) are not subject to the obligation to tag their financial statements.

Investment entities that fall under the consolidation exception as per IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements and that only prepare individual IFRS financial statements are therefore also not required to tag their IFRS financial statements.

Sections 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 of the ESEF manual (esma32-60-254_esef_reporting_manual.pdf (europa.eu)) are applicable.

To find out more about ESEF or iXBRL contact Andrew Stewart:

+44 (0) 20 77577470


Located in the heart of London’s financial centre, 1STOPXBRL is a quality focussed firm that specialises in providing global financial compliance solutions. Clients are offered tailor made services, backed with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Certification, as well as HMRC Accreditation for Accounts & Tax Computation iXBRL services. The group boasts a wide portfolio of international clients, including both large and small companies.

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