The cultural test for high-end television

Qualify for tax relief through the cultural test for high-end television.

High-end television can qualify as British in one of two ways. It must meet the requirements of one of the following:

  • The cultural test for high-end television.
  • One of the UK’s official bilateral co-production agreements that allow television co-production.


The secondary legislation for the revised high-end television cultural test has now come into force (as of 23 July 2015) and we can now begin issuing certificates. Companies can use their certificates to submit a tax relief claim to HMRC on UK expenditure back-dated to the 1 April 2015.

We will still be running both the old and revised high-end television cultural tests for the time being.

Which application to use:

  • Applicants who are still in principal photography on or after the 1 April 2015 should apply under the revised HETV cultural test.
  • If your programme completed principal photography before 1 April 2015 you should apply under the old test. If you have received an interim certificate under the old test and have now completed your programme, you will need to apply for final certification and you must use the old HETV cultural test.

If you are unsure which test to apply under please do contact the Certification Unit at certifications@bfi.org.uk or call Anna Mansi, BFI Head of Certification, on +44 (0)20 7173 3214.

The cultural test for high-end television and some elements of the tax relief for HETV have been revised. Applications can be submitted under the existing guidelines or revised guidelines below. The changes that have been made to the culture test are:

  • The cultural test has been modernised to allow for European content. This is in line with the other creative content tax reliefs.
  • The pass mark is 18 points, now out of a possible 35 points.
  • There is an increase in the points available for principal photography/ special effects/ visual effects and English/EEA language.
  • The minimum UK expenditure requirement has been reduced from 25% to 10%.

The cultural test for high-end television

Qualifying your high-end television programme as British under the cultural test is the gateway to accessing the UK high-end television programme tax relief.

To apply for the cultural test for high-end television, there must be one television production company (TPC) that is registered with Companies House and within the UK corporation tax net. The TPC must be set up before principal photography begins and have responsibility for all aspects of the programme-making 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).

Applying for British high-end television certification

Applicants can apply for interim certification at any point before or during production. Interim certification is essential if you wish to claim high-end television tax relief during production.

A final application must be submitted once the programme is complete and ready to be broadcast to the general public. The online application form below can be used for interim and final certification.

Guidelines

Please read the guidance notes which will help you complete your application.

Old Cultural test for high-end television guidance notes

Application forms

To make an application under the revised cultural test, please proceed to the application form below:

Revised cultural test for High-end television application form

To make an application under the old cultural test, please proceed to the application form below:

Old cultural test for high-end television application form

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).

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.

Your account

If you have already started your application, you can continue by signing in with your existing account details:

Supporting documents

A printed hardcopy of your full application with a completed statutory declaration must be sent to us in order for us to begin our assessment.

Where an individual in a position other than the director or secretary of the Television 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 scripts in the English language – the most up-to-date copy.
  • A complete synopsis/treatment.
  • Shooting/Production Schedule – the most up-to-date information.
  • Production budget (interim)/final cost report (final) – 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 (as few as possible) 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 hardcopy application form with the Statutory Declaration and any supporting documents (that have not submitted online) 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. Telephone Anna Mansi, BFI Head of Certification, on +44 (0)20 7173 3214 or email certifications@bfi.org.uk.

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