British Film Certification Co-production Guidance Notes

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British Film Certification

Co-production Guidance Notes
Version: January 2013
Please check on the BFI website that you are using the most up-to-date version of the guidance:

These guidance notes are applicable to films starting principal photography on or after the 1st January 2007 and applying for British Film Certification under the following:
UK/Australia Film Co-production Agreement

UK/Canada Film Co-production Agreement

UK/France Film Co-production Agreement

UK/India Film Co-production Agreement

UK/Israel Film Co-production Agreement

UK/Jamaica Film Co-production Agreement

UK/New Zealand Film Co-production Agreement

UK/Occupied Palestinian Territories Film Co-production Agreement

UK/South Africa Film Co-production Agreement

The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production
Collectively known through these guidance notes as the co-production agreements (but also sometimes known as treaties).

The UK Government currently has nine active bi-lateral film co-production agreements with Australia, Canada, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, New Zealand, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and South Africa. The aim of these co-production agreements is to encourage cross cultural collaboration between film makers from both countries.  The UK has also ratified the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. This is designed to encourage multi-lateral film co-productions between three or more signatory countries, and to allow for bi-lateral co-productions between signatory countries where no bi-lateral agreement exists.

These guidance notes are published pursuant to the co-production agreements signed by the UK Government, in order to provide information and advice about how applications are to be made for British Film Certification (also known as approved co-production status). They must be read in conjunction with the relevant co-production agreement.  They are not, nor are they meant to be, a comprehensive description of the co-production agreements. 

For further details on co-productions or to arrange a meeting particular project please contact the Certification Unit via email at or telephone the Certification Manager, Anna Mansi on 0207 173 3214.


Index 3

Introduction 4

Skills Investment Fund 4

Voluntary deposit 5

Applications for a British film 6

Who can apply? 6

How to apply? 6

Provisional approval/Interim certification 9

Final approval/Final certification 9

Information sharing 9

Film co-production agreements 11

General information 11

Archive footage 12

The UK Co-producer 13

Party and non-party co-producers 13

Applying as a multi-lateral co-production 16

Common management, control or ownership 17

Financial contributions 19

Rights, revenues and receipts 23

Language of the film 23

Screen and publicity credits 23

Where the film is made 24

Personnel 25

Conditions of work 28

Co-production contract 28

Cultural balance (for bi-lateral agreements only) 30

UK co-producers 32

Party and non-party co-producers under the European Convention 32

Financial contributions 32

Film-making contributions 33

Where the film is made 33

Personnel 33

Rights & co-production contract 34

Screen and publicity credits 34

Qualifying as an European cinematographic work 35

Accountant’s report for final certification 36

Statutory declaration for final certification 38

Annex A: Member states 40

Annex B: List of countries currently signed up to the European Convention 40


  1. The British Film Institute (BFI) is responsible for assessing applications for British Film Certification. A British Film Certificate can be obtained under either:

    1. The Cultural test or;

    2. The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production or;

    3. One of the UK’s official bi-lateral co-production agreements.

  1. These guidance notes relate to obtaining a certificate under the European Convention or one of the UK’s bi-lateral co-production agreements.

  1. The decision whether to grant a film approved co-production status is made jointly with the competent authority of each signatory country to the bi-lateral co-production agreements or the participating co-producing countries under the European Convention (as applicable). A competent authority is the relevant government department or body nominated by that country’s government to make decisions on applications for approved co-production status. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is the UK’s competent authority.

  1. The Secretary of State for DCMS is responsible for making the decision as to whether to grant approval and issue a British Film Certificate, on the recommendation of the BFI Certification Unit.

  1. Obtaining a British Film Certificate is a condition of making a claim to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for film tax relief.  Film tax relief is available under the Finance Act 2006 for films which commenced principal photography on or after 1 January 2007 (or under transitional regulation to films which started principal photography before 1 January 2007 but were not completed by that date).

These guidance notes only relate to whether a film is made in accordance with a co-production agreement and accordingly is a British film.  It is not relevant to the other criteria for film tax relief in the Finance Act 2006.  Those criteria are administered by HMRC which has issued separate guidance at

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