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HMRC internal manual

Film Production Company Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Avoidance and disclosure: exchange of information between HMRC and DCMS/BFI Certification Unit


Film Tax Relief (FTR) is available to a film production company (FPC) only in respect of a film which has been certified (on either an interim or final basis) as British by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) under Schedule 1 of the Films Act 1985 (FPC40030)

In practice, the Secretary of State certifies films on the advice of the BFI Certification Unit , the Government’s strategic agency for film. Where an FPC does not hold a current certificate in respect of a film, the film is not eligible for FTR.

An application for an interim certificate can be made whilst the film is in production but an application for final certification can only be made once the film is completed. DCMS also has the authority to revoke a certificate which has previously been given.

It is possible that HMRC could uncover information during the normal enquiry process which suggests that a film does not meet the criteria for being a British film. In some cases, this might constitute evidence that a film had been certified as British on the basis of incorrect or inaccurate information. However, HMRC would not be able simply to disregard the certificate presented by the FPC; a certificate can only be revoked by DCMS.

To address this situation HMRC is authorised to provide DCMS information relevant to film certification. Such provision could lead to DCMS revoking the original certificate and the denial of FTR in relation to the film. One effect of this provision, therefore, is to prevent FPCs from making claims for FTR to which they are not entitled.

HMRC has discretion about how it exercises this authority; DCMS can not demand information from HMRC. And any information provided by HMRC to DCMS must relate to the Secretary of State’s functions under the Films Act.

DCMS may share such information with the BFI Certification Unit ,

Information disclosed by HMRC in this way is subject to the same protection as if it were held exclusively by HMRC and it cannot be shared outside DCMS and the BFI Certification Unit , except in certain limited circumstances described in CTA2009/S1206(3) . Wrongful disclosure of such information would constitute an offence and an individual committing this offence is liable to a fine or imprisonment.

If you discover information which you believe has a bearing upon a film which might have been certified on the basis of false or incorrect information provided to DCMS, you should contact Anti-Avoidance Group in the first instance.

Information provided by applicants to DCMS during the process of applying for a certificate may not normally be disclosed to third parties. However, DCMS may disclose information to the BFI Certification Unit and HMRC.

Any enquiries which concern the process for certification should be directed to the BFI Certification Unit. See FPC40030 for contact details.