What is applicability in Azure Policy?

When a policy definition is assigned to a scope, Azure Policy determines which resources in that scope should be considered for compliance evaluation. A resource will only be assessed for compliance if it is considered applicable to the given policy assignment.

Applicability is determined by several factors:

  • Conditions in the if block of the policy rule.
  • Mode of the policy definition.
  • Excluded scopes specified in the assignment.
  • Exemptions of resources or resource hierarchies.

Condition(s) in the if block of the policy rule are evaluated for applicability in slightly different ways based on the effect.


Applicability is different from compliance, and the logic used to determine each is different. If a resource is applicable that means it is relevant to the policy. If a resource is compliant that means it adheres to the policy. Sometimes only certain conditions from the policy rule impact applicability, while all conditions of the policy rule impact compliance state.

Applicability logic for Append/Modify/Audit/Deny/DataPlane effects

Azure Policy evaluates only type, name, and kind conditions in the policy rule if expression and treats other conditions as true (or false when negated). If the final evaluation result is true, the policy is applicable. Otherwise, it's not applicable.

Following are special cases to the previously described applicability logic:

Scenario Result
Any invalid aliases in the if conditions The policy is not applicable
When the if conditions consist of only kind conditions The policy is applicable to all resources
When the if conditions consist of only name conditions The policy is applicable to all resources
When the if conditions consist of only type and kind or type and name conditions Only type conditions are considered when deciding applicability
When any conditions (including deployment parameters) include a location condition Will not be applicable to subscriptions

Applicability logic for AuditIfNotExists and DeployIfNotExists policy effects

The applicability of AuditIfNotExists and DeployIfNotExists policies is based off the entire if condition of the policy rule. When the if evaluates to false, the policy is not applicable.

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