Download the latest information leaflet about British certification and tax relief:
Overall, we advise that it can take 4-5 weeks from us receiving the hardcopy application to issuing a certificate, so please bear this in mind and apply early if you are under time constraints. Here is the process in more detail:
Assessment process explained
1. Application Logged
Your hardcopy and online applications (along with any supporting documents) will be collated, logged into our database and a file created for your project. This can take a few days due to the high number of applications we receive daily.
2. 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. 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 2-3 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 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 which we then email to the applicant named in the application form. This will generally be 2-3 days from when we send the reports.
Overall, we advise that it can take 4-5 weeks from receiving the hardcopy application to issuing a certificate, so please bear this in mind and apply early if you are under time constraints.
I can’t access my account?
We do not have access to applicant’s accounts or passwords. Either the wrong email address is being used to login, or if you have forgotten your password click ‘forgot password?’ and it will automatically send you a temporary new password to log in with.
I’m getting an error message about my cookies when I try to launch the application form?
Your computer may not be accepting cookies which is stopping the online application form from launching. You will need to change some settings in your internet browser to allow for cookies. It is then advisable to fully close and re-launch your internet browser before trying to access the link. If you are unsure how to do this email email@example.com or see further information in the document below.
I started an application but now it has disappeared?
Applications that have not been finished and submitted will automatically be archived after 90 days and can no longer be edited or submitted. You will need to start a new application. You should be able to see the archived application in the drop down menu and email it to yourself if you need the information for reference.
Do I need to apply for all of the points?
No, if you can achieve all of the pass mark points (16 for the old film, old high-end television (HETV), animation, children’s television programme and video games cultural tests or 18 for the revised film and revised HETV 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.
Do I need to provide an accountants report?
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.
I have an interim certificate but have now completed my project, how do I apply for a final certificate?
It is the same application form and process as at interim. The first question it will ask you when you click the application form link is whether the project is complete or not, this will then take you through to the relevant form. 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. For the cultural test you will need to supply an accountants report if you are claiming any points in sections in C and D. Once you have submitted your form online, you will need to send in a hardcopy of the statutory declared application form.
Is there a fee for applying for certification?
No. There are no fees or charges for applying.
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 hardcopy 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?
Please see the About UK creative industry tax reliefs page.
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 wish on UK expenditure to date.
Do you assess my project for tax relief?
No. This is done by the Creative Industries Unit at HMRC. If you have any questions relating to eligible expenditure or the tax relief process you should contact HMRC or visit their website.
Tel: 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 to talk through your project and requirements.
Who’s in the team?
- Anna Mansi — Head of Certification
- Christopher Halliday – Senior Analyst
- Chantel Burrell – Film Analyst
- Andy Wright – HETV and Animation Analyst
- Colm Seeley – Video Games Analyst
- Julia Brown – Film and Video Games Analyst
- Margherita Modeo – Children’s Television and Film Analyst
- Stuart Burnside – Video Games Analyst
- Niall Davies – Co-ordinator
- Tim Pullham – Co-ordinator