Account and applications
A new application system was launched April 2023 meaning that all application forms across all sectors for both cultural test and co-production are found in the same place within your account. Please note you can no longer access the old system or any previous applications made within the old system. The new system now also allows you to move from interim to final certification using the same application form, please see below for more details on creating an account and the application process.
Our current turnaround time is 18 to 20 weeks from receiving your application to issuing a certificate, we would encourage productions and companies to build these longer timeframes into their schedules when applying for the cultural tests.
Please apply as early as possible if you are under time constraints.
Explaining the assessment process
1. Making an application
The new application system launched April 2023 means that all application forms across all sectors for both cultural test and co-production are found in the same place within your account, there is no longer a separate link on the webpages for each form. You need to create an account and then once this has been created you can make and manage all your applications within your account. The application forms for the film, HETV, Children’s TV, Animation TV and video games cultural tests can all be found within your account, along with the co-production application form.
2. Application Logged
You will receive a confirmation e-mail when your online application is submitted. Your application (along with any supporting documents) will be collated, logged into our database and a file created for your project. This can take a week or so due to the high number of applications we receive daily.
3. Application Assigned
Your project is then assigned to one of the analysts in the team who will be in touch to ask any initial questions or request any documents which may be missing. The new application system means that if there is any missing detail or if anything needs updating within the application this can be sent back to you by the analyst for you to update. You will receive an e-mail to confirm the application has been unsubmitted and you need go back into your account to correct the form where indicated and re-submit it, the analyst will then receive an e-mail to say you have sent the form back.
If you don’t hear from us straight away, don’t worry, it’s likely due to a high number of applications or because we don’t have any questions for you at this point.
The assessment can take 16 to 18 weeks depending on the complexity of the application and if any further information or documents are required.
If your application is a straight forward one then you can possibly expect a quicker turnaround.
Please be aware that co-productions can take much longer than this due to the nature of having multiple competent authorities involved who must each receive an application and liaise accordingly.
Once the analyst has completed their assessment they will send their report and recommendation to Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who will then review them. We send our reports to DCMS once a week, generally mid-week.
Once DCMS have agreed with our recommendations, they return to us the signed e-certificates, the certificates are then attached to the relevant project within your account for you to access and download, you will receive an e-mail to confirm your application has been approved and the certificate is ready to download.
Overall, we advise that it can take 12 to 14 weeks from receiving the application to issuing a certificate, so please bear this in mind and apply early if you are under time constraints.
If you can achieve all of the pass mark points (16 for animation and video games cultural tests or 18 for film, HETV and children’s TV cultural tests) in sections A and B then we advise that you just claim these points.
If you are unsure whether your project will achieve all of the points in these sections you may wish to apply for additional points in section C and D.
Applying for a final certificate when you have an interim certificate
The new system now allows you to move from interim to final certification using the same application form. Once you have completed your project and you are ready to apply for final certification, if you have already had an application approved for interim certification for the same project, then you can use the same application form from within your account to update and submit for final certification.
You will need to upload any updated supporting documents such as the latest shooting schedule, a copy of the completed project (film/television programme/video game) and a final cost report.
At final certification for the cultural test you will need to supply an accountants report if you are claiming any points in sections in C and D. There is also an accountants report required for co-productions at final certification.
An accountants report is required at final certification only if you are claiming any points in sections C and D. See the applicable guidance notes for further information.
Inaccessible accounts and error messages
If you are encountering issues logging in, either the wrong email address is being used to login, or you may be using the incorrect password or have forgotten your password. In this case, choose ‘reset your password?’ and you will be able to set a new password to access your account. If you are still having issues please do e-mail the team at the address below.
If you receive an error message about cookies when you try to launch the application form you will need to change settings in your internet browser to allow for cookies.
Fully close and re-launch your internet browser before trying to access the link.
Email email@example.com or see further information in the document below.
There are no fees or charges for applying for certification.
What is it and why do I need it?
By completing a statutory declaration for the completed application form you are swearing an oath to the veracity of the information it contains.
Who can sign it at the company?
A statutory declaration needs to be signed by a director or secretary of the production company or development company. However, someone else within the company can sign on their behalf but we will need a brief email from either the director or secretary, confirming that they have authorised that person to sign on their behalf.
Who can witness/make the statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration must be made either before a practising solicitor, general notary, justice of the peace or other officer authorised by law to administer a statutory declaration. They must be independent of the production.
I’m not in the UK at the moment; can I get a statutory declaration done here and send to you?
If you are outside the UK, only the British Consul, British Embassy and the British High Commission are authorised to administer a statutory declaration for this purpose. Otherwise, as above, someone else based in the UK in the company could sign (with authorisation) on behalf of the Director or Secretary of the company.
I have already completed a statutory declaration at interim certification; do I need to do it again for final?
Yes, we will need you do it again for the new application.
How much will it cost?
We cannot advise on how much it will cost or where to have this done as costs can vary and recommend that applicants look in to this.
Do I need the supporting documents to be witnessed too?
No, they only need to witness the completed printed application form. Please send both the completed application form and statutory declaration to us. If you have submitted supporting documents online, you do not need to send these in as hardcopies too.
How do I assign costs in the BFI split budget?
The costs in the split budget should be assigned according to where the goods, services and personnel are sourced from (not where they are ‘used and consumed’ – this definition is used for tax relief purposes).
For example, in a UK/Canada co-production if a Canadian director is working in the UK for the project, the director’s fee should go under the Canadian spend in the split budget for our purposes.
Can I apply for an official British co-production of my television project under the European Convention?
No, the European Convention does not allow for television.
When should I apply for an official British co-production?
Co-producers should apply at the very least one month prior to the start of principal photography/key animation. Your co-producer partner(s) should also submit their applications to the relevant competent authority at the same time.
My project is complete; can I still apply as a British co-production?
No, you can only apply for an official British co-production before a project begins filming.
How can my film/television programme/video game qualify for tax relief in the UK and how much is it worth?
What do I need to do to qualify my film/television programme/video game as British?
Productions can qualify as British in one of three ways. They must meet the requirements of one of the following:
- the Cultural Test. (NB. Video Games can only qualify as British under the Cultural Test)
- one of the UK’s official bilateral co-production treaties
- the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production (film only)
Who is tax relief available to?
This is paid to the company responsible for making the film/television programme/video game. All costs should go through this company and it should be set up prior to principal photography/key animation/development starting.
The company must be within the UK corporation tax net.
What is the minimum UK spend requirement?
There is a minimum spend requirement for qualifying production/development expenditure which is different depending upon which tax relief you wish to access.
They are as follows:
- films, HETV, animation programmes and children’s television programmes must all have a minimum of 10% of total core expenditure that is spent on UK qualifying production costs.
- video games must have a minimum of 25% of total core expenditure spent on UK/EEA state qualifying development costs.
UK qualifying production expenditure is defined as expenditure incurred on production activities (pre-production, principal photography/animation shooting/designing/producing and post production) which take place within the UK, irrespective of the nationality of the persons carrying out the activity. For video games this is extended to EEA state qualifying expenditure.
HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) definition of UK spend introduces the concept of where a good or service is “used or consumed” in the UK. If they are used or consumed in the UK, the expenditure is treated as UK expenditure (under the rules set out in the clauses of the Finance Bill). If they are used or consumed outside the UK, they do not count as UK expenditure. For video games this is extended to EEA state qualifying expenditure.
Only expenditure incurred by the production or development company is eligible for tax relief.
Further details on the definition of “used and consumed” are available in HMRC’s guidance on tax relief.
When do I claim my tax relief?
Once you have either an interim or final certificate, you can make an application for tax relief on the project when you complete your tax returns with HMRC who will then make the assessment for any applicable relief due. You can make as many claims as you wish on UK expenditure to date.
Do you assess my project for tax relief?
No. If you have any questions relating to eligible expenditure or the tax relief process you should contact Creative Industries Unit at HMRC.
Telephone: 0300 123 3440 (select option 3 for Creative Industry Tax Unit)
What are your criteria for film rating classification?
We do not deal with rating classification. Please contact the British Board of Film Certification with enquiries relating to film rating classification and censorship.
BAFTA and other film festival entry requires my project to qualify as British, do I need to apply for certification?
We recommend visiting the BAFTA website for full BAFTA Film Awards eligibility, rules and entry and checking with the specific festival entry requirements on their websites.
If your project is required to receive British certification please contact the BFI certification team.
Who’s in the team?
- Anna Mansi - Head of Certification
- Christopher Halliday — Senior Analyst
- Chantel Burrell — Film Analyst
- Julia Brown — Diversity Standards Manager / Film and Video Games Analyst
- Margherita Modeo — Children’s Television and Film Analyst
- Stuart Burnside — Video Games Analyst
- Niall Davies — Video Games Analyst
- Tim Pullham — Film and Television Analyst
- Katie Granger — Film and Television Analyst
- Jumana Gulamhusein — HETV/Animation Analyst
- Cherene Bracegirdle-Smith - Co-ordinator
- Sam Langan - Co-ordinator