Define: Amortisation

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Amortisation


Quick Summary


Process similar to depreciation, usually applied to intangible fixed assets.



What is the dictionary definition of Amortisation?

Dictionary Definition


  1. The process of treating as an expenses the annual amount deemed to waste away from a fixed asset.
  2. The repayment of debt by a borrower in a series of instalments over a period.
  3. The spreading of the front-end fee charged on taking out a loan over the life of a loan for accounting purposes.
  4. Another word for Depreciation (USA).

Full Definition


Spreading the cost of an intangible asset, such as a lease, over the years in which it is used. It is usual to divide the cost of the lease by the number of years that the lease is held for, and then use that figure as the annual charge. This is similar to depreciation except that depreciation deals with tangible or fixed assets such as motor vehicles or plant and equipment.

  1. The process of treating as an expenses the annual amount deemed to waste away from a fixed asset. The concept is particularly applied to leases, which are acquired for a given sum for a specified term at the end of which the lease will have nil value.It’s customary to divide the cost of the lease by the number of years of it’s term and treat the result as an annual charge against profit.Whilst this method doesn’t necessarily reflect the value of the lease at any given time, it does provide an equitable way of allocating the original cost between periods.
  2. The repayment of debt by a borrower in a series of instalments over a period.
  3. The spreading of the front-end fee charged on taking out a loan over the life of a loan for accounting purposes.
  4. American Term for Depreciation.

Amortisation FAQ's


What is the difference between depreciation and amortisation?

The key difference between amortisation and depreciation is that amortisation is used for intangible assets, while depreciation is used for tangible assets. An asset’s salvage value must be subtracted from its cost to determine the amount in which it can be depreciated.

What is an example of amortisation?

Amortising an intangible asset

You own a patent on a machine, and that patent lasts 20 years. You spent $20,000 to design and create the machine (initial cost of the patent). You should record $1,000 each year as an amortisation expense for the patent ($20,000 / 20 years).

Amortising a loan

You have a $5,000 loan outstanding. If you pay $1,000 of the principal each year, $1,000 of the loan amortises each year. You should record $1,000 each year in your books as an amortisation expense.

Why is amortisation used?

Amortisation of an intangible asset is the equivalent to depreciating a tangible asset like equipment. Intangibles are assets like patents and licenses that are of significant value to a company and have an estimated useful life. The cost is amortised over the useful life to record expenses in the period they are used.