Film production company ― film cultural test

By Tolley in association with Richard Palmer

The following Corporation Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Richard Palmer provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Film production company ― film cultural test
  • Introduction
  • Qualification as a British film
  • The Cultural Test
  • Supporting information
  • Completing the Cultural Test
  • Accountant's Report
  • Applying for certification
  • UK's official bilateral co-production agreements
  • The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production


Film production companies which produce qualifying films are eligible for an additional deduction for corporation tax purposes which can be surrendered for a tax credit payable to the company. See the Film Production Company Tax Credits guidance note for further details.

All references to the Films Act 1985 in this guidance note are subscription sensitive.

One of the conditions that the film must meet is that it is certified as a British film. This guidance note summarises the process for the film production company obtaining the certificate for the film.

CTA 2009, s 1197

Films Act 1985, Sch 1 (as amended) sets out the application procedure and provides that certification of films is by the Secretary of State  of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) . However the process of assessing of films and certification is dealt with by the Certification Unit of the British Film Institute (BFI)  on behalf of the DCMS.

Whilst obtaining a certificate is a requisite part of obtaining the additional tax deduction and tax credit, it is also necessary if finance for the film is to be obtained from the BFI film fund .

Following amendments in Finance Act 2014, for films commencing principal photography on or after 1 April 2014, the Cultural Test was expanded to allow for some European films with a European cultural content to qualify for the British Cultural Test. Additional points are awarded for visual effects and special effects (VFX) work carried out in the UK.

Qualification as a British film

Under Films Act 1985, Sch 1, para 4 a film can qualify as British in three ways:

  • by meeting the Cultural Test as a British film (discussed below)
  • being a

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