Working with the UK after EU exit: Answering questions from the screen sectors

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) took effect on 1 January 2021. This agreement significantly changed the way UK businesses interact with the EU, including the screen sectors. This page sets out how our working relationship has changed.

This Q&A sets out implications for the screen sectors and will continue to be updated as necessary.

The UK Government also hosts a page setting out information for those working with the EU in the broader creative industries sector. Find out more.

What are the new rules regarding long-term movement of people to the UK (immigration)?

The Withdrawal Agreement allowed for freedom of movement to continue until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

For long-term immigration to the UK, a points-based immigration system now applies to both EEA and non-EEA nationals:

  • Those moving to the UK for permanent employment, such as many VFX roles, must have a job offer in a high-skilled profession and must be able to speak English. They must then reach a ‘points’ threshold via a combination of salary level (which must always be above £20,480), level of qualification and whether they are working in an occupation with recognised skills shortages.
  • Employers in the screen sectors will be required to pay an immigration skills charge as well as an NHS surcharge to bring these workers in. The cap on places for this route has been removed.
  • A very small number of industry leaders can move to the UK through a Global Talent route where they can evidence exceptional contribution. Find out more.

How the new points-based system works

Find out practical information

The BFI continues to work with industry and others to advocate for the importance of ease of movement for the screen sectors on both a short-term and long-term basis given their highly international nature. The Home Office previously collaborated with industry to design the Creative Worker system to ensure it works for industry, and BFI and partners continue to work with Government to ensure these provisions remain fit for purpose in future.

What are the new rules regarding short-term movement of people (mobility)?

Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, both the UK and the EU agreed to provide visa-free travel for certain kinds of short-term visits for their nationals in accordance with their domestic law.

The UK Government treats EU citizens as non-visa nationals for the purposes of tourism and holidays, meaning they can come to the UK as visitors for 6 months without the need to obtain a visa. The EU applies its existing rules on visa-free short-term visits to UK nationals travelling to and within the Schengen area. UK nationals do not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period, when travelling for purposes such as tourism, to visit friends or family or for conducting a limited variety of business trips, including attending meetings, conferences and trade fairs. (These conditions of entry are subject to any additional restrictions put in place by a member of the Schengen area as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic). The Schengen area comprises all EU countries, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. The non-EU states of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also in the Schengen area.

Each EU member state has its own list of activities it allows to take place visa-free. Anyone looking to travel to the EU on business should check the relevant details and regulations that apply in the member state they are travelling and the country they are travelling from.

In general, new rules for providing services and travelling for business to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein came into effect from 1 January 2021. The Government has published a country by country guide. Find out more

The provision of services and business travel in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein is also covered in the UK’s Free Trade Agreement with those countries.

For stays of longer than 90 days’ duration in the Schengen area, UK nationals will require a residence permit or relevant visa issued by national authorities according to that country’s rules. Different rules apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania (as well as the Republic of Ireland – see below). If you visit these countries, visits to Schengen area countries will not count towards the 90-day total and vice-versa.

Those moving from the EU/EEA to the UK for temporary work (such as to join a film or HETV production) must now adhere to the Creative Worker visa system which previously applied only to non-EEA nationals. This requires a job offer from a recognised sponsor. The UK allows those coming to the UK to shoot on location for an overseas production to enter without a visa for limited periods of time. More information on the current structure of Creative Worker visas is available. Find out more.

You need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland) for all forms of travel including business travel. Find out more.

The UK and Irish governments committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) from 1 January 2021. CTA arrangements mean full protection and maintenance of the status quo for all journeys for individuals between the UK and Ireland. Rights to work, study and access social security and public services have been preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals in the other’s state.

The UK and Switzerland have signed a Services Mobility Agreement providing continuity for UK businesses, professionals and other service providers, including those in the creative industries, to continue working visa free in Switzerland for up to 90 days a year.

Has the UK’s exit affected UK and European tax incentives?

The UK’s Creative Sector Tax Reliefs were not affected by the UK’s exit from the EU; this includes those available for film, high-end television (HETV), animation television, children’s television and video games. Content qualifies for the relevant Creative Sector Tax Relief if it passes the UK’s relevant cultural test or under the recognised co-production treaty arrangements (see below). Cultural tests for the creative sector continue to recognise EEA content and personnel.

UK personnel no longer have EEA status and are thus not able to qualify for some other member states’ cultural tests or qualify for tax relief under incentive schemes in those member states. The BFI, the British Film Commission and the UK Government continue to monitor the impact of this issue. EEA personnel continue to be recognised within the eligibility criteria for the UK’s cultural test.

The BFI’s Screen Business (2021) report demonstrates the value of the UK’s screen sector tax reliefs. Find out more.

Can the UK still co-produce with EU partners?

All co-production agreements including the bi-lateral co-production treaties and the Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production signed by the UK remain in place after the UK’s exit from the EU. The Convention is governed by the Council of Europe, not the European Union, and the UK will continue to be a party to the Convention. In addition, on 7 February 2019 the UK Government officially signed the revised Convention and ratified it on 18 June 2021. It will enter into force on 1 October 2021. It confers added flexibility on UK producers and their international partners whose countries are signatories. The next step is for the UK to ratify the Treaty and it can then subsequently enter into force for UK producers. This demonstrates the UK’s determination to continue working very closely with Europe and other international territories.

The UK’s bi-lateral treaties with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, Occupied Palestinian Territories and South Africa form part of UK legislation and therefore are not affected by the UK’s exit from the EU.

Find out more on co-producing with the UK from We Are UK Film.

Do UK films and TV programmes still count as “European works”?

Works originating from the UK are still European works for the quotas set out in the European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). This has been confirmed by both the UK Government and the European Commission. This is because the AVMSD rules concerning the definition of European works state that a work can qualify if the work originates in a European third state party to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT) of the Council of Europe. The UK remains party to the ECTT. A note with further information can be found below.

The DCMS consulted on the implementation in the UK of the revised AVMSD which was agreed by the EU in 2018. It includes a 30% minimum quota for European works on VoD services. This Directive was transposed into UK law and entered into force in the UK on 1 November 2020.

What are the changes to subsidy (state aid) rules?

The UK is no longer subject to EU state aid rules (except, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, as regards both the movement of goods and the wholesale electricity markets between Northern Ireland and the EU).

The Government has designed a new domestic subsidy control regime with the objective of protecting the UK internal market and complying with international obligations.

On 30 June 2021, after consulting stakeholders, the government published the Subsidy Control Bill Subsidy Control Bill — Parliamentary Bills — UK Parliament.

In summary the Bill:

  • provides a legal framework for public authorities to award subsidies in line with subsidy control principles. There will be a statutory duty for public authorities to consider these principles and only award a subsidy which is consistent with these principles
  • introduces a number of prohibitions to prevent public authorities granting subsidies with distortive or harmful economic impacts
  • in specified circumstances, provides for various full and partial exemptions which will give public authorities the freedom to act swiftly in providing subsidies.  These exemptions, which the Bill intends to be applied in audiovisual sector, include:
    • a full exemption of minimal financial assistance subsidies (akin to de minimis). These subsidies will be exempt from all obligations under the domestic regime except the WTO derived prohibitions as they apply to subsidies relating to goods. The value threshold will be set at £315,000 over a three-year period for most sectors.
    • “streamlined routes” (akin to a General Block Exemption) where there is a low risk of causing market distortion and the government judges the subsidy to be compliant with the principles.
  • provides a requirement for public authorities to use the transparency database, which will contribute to the effective management of the regime
  • establishes the Subsidy Advice Unit (located within the Competition and Markets Authority) to provide monitoring and oversight of the new regime.
  • enables interested parties to challenge subsidy decisions on judicial review grounds in the Competition Appeal Tribunal
  • provides that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy can issue statutory guidance for the subsidy control regime, especially to support public authorities to apply the requirements

It is anticipated that the new Subsidy Control Regime will come into force in 2022 subject to Parliamentary approval.

The UK continues to operate in line with its international obligations such as the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) and the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

Does the trade agreement with the EU cover “audiovisual services”?

Audiovisual services are excluded from the sections on Services and Investment and on Digital Trade in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This is in line with all other EU trade deals.

This means that some of the rules for broadcasters and providers of video on-demand services who are based in the UK and targeting EU audiences have changed. Find out more.

These broadcasters and VoD services may need a new licence; Ofcom has issued detailed advice.

What is the impact of UK EU exit on laws regarding intellectual property?

The UK remains party to the main international treaties on copyright and related rights. These rules help underpin copyright legislation in all signatory territories and did not depend on the UK’s membership of the EU. They continue to apply following the end of the transition period.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published guidance on the impact of the changes to copyright law with effect from 1 January 2021. Find out more.

Films and other moving images are still protected in the EU and the UK because of the UK’s participation in the international treaties on copyright. For the same reason, EU copyright works continue to be protected in the UK. This applies to works made before and after 1 January 2021.

Copyright duration in the UK for works from the UK, EEA, or other countries has not changed. EEA works are given the same copyright duration in the UK as UK works. For works from outside the EEA, copyright lasts for the term granted in the country-of-origin or the term granted to UK works, whichever is less.

The EU orphan works exception no longer applies to UK-based institutions and was repealed in the UK on 1 January 2021. UK institutions may face claims of copyright infringement if they make orphan works available online in the UK or EEA, including works they had placed online before 1 January 2021.

In addition to the above, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement contains a section on Intellectual Property.

In 2021, the UK Government conducted a consultation on possible changes to the UK Exhaustion regime. However, it concluded that “there is not enough data available to understand the economic impact of any of the alternatives to the current UK+ regime” and so the existing regime remains in place. Find out more.

The Government has set up a helpline for businesses on intellectual property at 0300 300 2000.

What about the temporary movement of goods, such as filming equipment?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement confirms that both parties will exempt the temporary movement of filming equipment from import duties and taxes.

The EU makes provision for such temporary import of goods via a number of methods, including via the use of ATA carnets. ATA carnets are used in around 70 countries and constitute a document which travels with the goods in question and is checked at relevant borders. Countries have their own rules about what goods you can bring in with an ATA Carnet, so productions should check rules with the issuer in the country they’re exporting to. There is a cost to acquiring an ATA carnet and productions should apply as far ahead of their trip as possible to allow for processing times.

More information on using carnets for temporary export of goods from the UK

Under the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol – which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement – the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, in both directions, will be subject to certain rules.

The Government has stated that:

“You may be able to get an ATA carnet to avoid paying import duty if you’re importing goods to or from Northern Ireland temporarily. More guidance will be published about this as soon as possible.”

More information

The Government has set up a helpline for businesses regarding goods crossing the UK/EU border at 0300 3301 331.

Are there impacts for film/TV-related haulage?

Yes. Rules for UK goods vehicle operators travelling to, or through, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway changed on 1 January 2021.

The previous Community Licence was replaced with a UK Licence for the Community. This licence and certified copies must be carried when driving abroad. Operators who wish to carry other people’s goods outside of the UK need a  standard international operator licence.

There are additional requirements for abnormal load trailers, which may be relevant for talent trailers and other film and TV-related vehicles. There may also be additional requirements around permits too, depending on the nature of your trip.

More on new rules for UK goods vehicle operators

Does the UK participate in EU programmes, including the Creative Europe programme?

The UK no longer participates in Creative Europe and therefore is not involved in the current 2021-2027 programme. The Creative Europe Desk UK closed 31 March 2021. There is a legacy page on which offers information on the grants received by UK organisations and films between 2014-2020.

While the UK’s direct access to funding has ended, there are many international training courses and industry initiatives funded by the programme that remain open to UK participants under the programme from 2021 to 2027.

The UK Government now funds the delivery of a UK Global Screen Fund (UKGSF) to support UK independent content in the international marketplace. The fund launched in April 2021 with an annual budget of £7m and has three open access funding strands: International Business Development, International Distribution and International Co-production. The UKGSF also funds ScreenUK, a global promotion campaign of UK screen content.

Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement the UK will participate in the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme (2021-2027). It has a budget of €95.5bn and includes a strand supporting “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society”.

The EU is still in the process of formalising the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, but UK-based applicants can already apply. If the delay to the UK association continues, the UK Government has confirmed successful Horizon Europe applicants will receive funding from UKRI regardless of the outcome of the UK’s efforts to associate with Horizon Europe. This applies to awards expected to be signed by the end of December 2022. Find out more.

Find further guidance.

Is the UK still represented as part of the European Film Agency Directors (EFAD) association?

Yes. The BFI is one of the founder members of EFAD, which brings together film agencies in 34 countries in Europe (EU [ includes two separate members in Belgium], Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Switzerland and the United Kingdom). EFAD members are responsible for national funding for the audiovisual sector and for advising their respective government on all aspects of audiovisual policy. In total, EFAD members and their governments fund around €3 billion every year through subsidies and tax reliefs to help foster the creation, production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of European audiovisual works including film. As such, EFAD has an influential role in helping to shape audiovisual policy.

Can the UK access the wealth of facts and statistics produced by the European Audio-Visual Observatory?

Yes. Like the Convention on Cinematographic Co-production, the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) is governed by the Council of Europe, not the European Union, and the UK will remain a member of the Council of Europe. The UK holds the Presidency of the European Audiovisual Observatory throughout 2021.

More information on the EAO

What are the new rules for data transfers?

Transfers of personal data between the EU and the UK can continue. The European Commission has ruled that the UK currently offers an ‘essentially equivalent’ level of data protection to the EU, meaning no new restrictions must be imposed. The EU has reserved the right to amend this decision should UK data protection rules diverge too far from its own in future, and the decision will be formally reviewed at least every 4 years.

The Government has set up a helpline for businesses on data transfers at 0303 123 1113.

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