Following European Commission state aid approval, the cultural test for film and some elements of the tax relief for film are being revised. Applications can be submitted under the existing guidelines or revised draft guidelines below. The changes being made to the culture test are:
- The cultural test will be modernised to allow for European content. This is in line with the other creative content tax reliefs.
- The pass mark will be 18 points, now out of a possible 35 points.
- There will be an increase in the points available for principal photography/ special effects/ visual effects and English/EEA language.
- Film Tax Relief will be available at 25% on the first £20 million of qualifying production expenditure and 20% thereafter for all films.
- The minimum UK expenditure requirement will be reduced from 25% to 10%.
Once the legislation has gone through Parliament later in the year, companies will be able to submit their tax relief claims to HMRC and they will be able to do this on expenditure backed-dated to 1 April 2014. Until then, applicants who are in principal photography on or after the 1 April 2014 may use either the existing cultural test or the revised test to apply. However, letters of comfort will only be issued to those applying under the revised cultural test.
Under the revised test applicants will receive a letter of comfort, signed on behalf of the Secretary of State by DCMS, stating that their film will pass the cultural test on the basis of the published draft regulations. While the pre-approval letter of comfort cannot be used to submit a claim to HMRC, however, it offers assurance that if the regulations are made as expected, the legal certificate will then be issued by the BFI on behalf of the Secretary of State. This will require applicants to re-submit their letter of comfort and application being re-submitted as a hard copy application, with a statutory declaration and a certificate will be issued.
All films can still apply using the existing cultural test (31 points test), those films that have already received a letter of comfort or interim certification prior to 1 April 2014 should apply under the existing cultural test for film. Online application forms for both the existing (31 points test) and revised (35 points test) cultural tests can be found within the ‘Application Form’ section below. If you are unsure which test to apply under please do contact the Certification unit.
We recommend that any production companies who are uncertain as to whether their film will pass the revised test when this comes into force and are currently in a position to apply for interim certification under the existing test do so now. Please contact the Certification Unit if you would like further advice.
If you require an interim or final certificate for tax relief purposes prior to the revised cultural test legislation going through later in the year you must apply under the existing cultural test.
Films can qualify as British in one of three ways. They must meet the requirements of one of the following:
- The cultural test for film
- One of the UK’s official bilateral co-production agreements
- The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production
Qualifying your film as British under the cultural test for film provides a number of advantages – eligibility to apply to the BFI Film Fund and eligibility to apply for the UK film tax relief.
To apply for the cultural test, there must be one film production company (FPC) that is registered with Companies House and within the UK corporation tax net. The FPC must be set up before principal photography begins and have responsibility for all aspects of the filmmaking process from pre-production through to delivery.
The cultural test is a points-based test where, under the revised guidelines, the project will need to achieve 18 of a possible 35 points to pass. It comprises of four sections:
- Cultural content (up to 18 points).
- Cultural contribution (up to 4 points).
- Cultural hubs (up to 5 points).
- Cultural practitioners (up to 8 points).
The pass mark for the existing cultural test remains 16 points from a possible 31. The summary can be viewed within the guidance notes below.
Applicants can apply for interim certification at any point before or during production. Interim certification is essential if you wish to claim film tax relief during production.
A final application must be submitted once the film is complete and ready to be viewed by an audience. The application form below can be used for interim and final certification.
Please read the guidance notes which will help you complete your application.
To make a draft application under the amended cultural test, please proceed to the application form below:
To make an application under the old cultural test, please proceed to the application form below:
A hard copy statutory declaration must be completed in conjunction with a printed copy of your online application form (please see the Supporting documents section below for further information).
Please note if applying under the amended cultural test you will not be required to submit a hardcopy statutory declared application until the legislation procedures are complete later in the year. It is still required if you are applying under the old cultural test.
You will be asked to set up an account before completing the application form.
If you are applying for Interim Certification online, your account will allow us to pre-populate your responses into the Final Certification application form. When you are ready to apply for Final Certification, you will be able to review and amend your answers which we hope will facilitate swift completion of the form and provide an enhanced applicant experience for you.
To access in-progress and submitted applications, you can log in to your account by clicking on the link below:
A printed copy of your application form must be sent to us along with a hard copy Statutory Declaration which must be completed in respect of this application form with every section completed, even if some sections are marked N/A.
Where an individual in a position other than the director or secretary of the Film Production Company has signed the Statutory Declaration the company director or company secretary will need to let us know in writing that they have been authorised to do so. This can be sent via email.
The BFI requires additional supporting material to complete its assessment of your application. The following documents are requested and can be attached to your online application form:
- Shooting script in the English language - the most up-to-date copy.
- A complete synopsis or treatment of the screenplay (in English) – The most up-to-date copy.
- Shooting Schedule – the most up-to-date information.
- Production budget/final cost report – the most up-to-date copy of the total long-form budget.
- A copy of the chain of title – the most up-to-date [if applying for points under section A3(b)].
If you are applying for Final Certification we will also require a physical DVD copy of the finished project and a hard copy of the accountant’s report if you are applying for points in sections C and D.
The application form with the Statutory Declaration and any supporting documents must be sent to:
The Certification Unit
British Film Institute
21 Stephen Street
London W1T 1LN
We will be happy to discuss your application in person or via phone or email. We can be contacted at:
Anna Mansi, BFI, Head of Certification, on +44 (0)20 7173 3214 or email email@example.com.
Here is a list of films which have been certified as British: