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VGTR – A Brief Overview of the BFI’s Cultural Test

Before you can make an application for Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), you will need to get your game certified as British by means of a cultural test administered by the British Film Institute (BFI)

Chris Dowsett

Manager, Tax Incentives UK & IE


In this blog, we give you a brief overview of the certificates available and the cultural test you will need to pass in order to acquire the certificate. More information on passing this test can be found in our latest eBook: How to apply for VGTR. 

During the application process you will be required to apply for one of the following certificates from the BFI:


You can only apply for a final certificate if your game is considered complete, that is, it is in a form where it can reasonably be regarded as ready for copies to be made and released to the general public. If the game is released on early access you should consider whether planned updates and content will impact on how points are awarded on the cultural test, as this may require you to reapply for a Final Certificate.


If your game is still in development but you want to benefit from VGTR you can apply for an interim certificate. Interim Certificates are valid for 3 years. You can reapply for an interim certificate if your game is still in development beyond this period. You will also need to apply for a final certificate once the game is complete.

VGTR is a cumulative scheme, meaning you can wait to claim the relief until the accounting year in which your game has been released to the public. If your game is due to be completed within a few months, then it is typically better to wait and apply directly for a final certificate, to avoid duplicated effort and cost.

The applications for the BFI cultural test can be made online via the following portal:

The online application has 19 pages and you will also need to upload some attachments. We’ve included a full breakdown of the test areas in our VGTR eBook and we recommend that you create an account on the BFI site, so that you can save a partial application and complete the application at your own pace. It is very unlikely that you will complete all the information in one sitting.

Cultural Test Summary:

The Cultural Test is points-based and looks at the content and development of the game. You will need to achieve 16 of a possible 31 points to pass. The test is divided into 4 sections:


Up to 16 points available. This section looks at the on-screen representation of the game. Focusing on the game’s locations, characters, subject matter and dialogue.


Up to 4 points based on the video game’s British cultural impact, covering; British creativity, British heritage and cultural diversity.


Up to 4 points. This section looks at where the work took place. If 50% or more of the work (measured by expenditure) took place in the UK or EEA then points can be gained. You will need to provide an Accountant’s Report for validation.


Up to 8 points. Focuses on the key personnel involved in the development and specifically looking at nationality or residency, awarding points for personnel who are citizens of or residing in the UK or EEA. Once again for points in this section, you will need to submit an Accountant’s Report to provide validated evidence that identities of the individuals concerned have been verified as qualifying parties.

You don’t need to apply for points under each of these categories, as long as you qualify for a minimum of 16 points. The certification team at BFI are very helpful and happy to advise what points you should be applying for.

To learn more, download our free eBook on applying for VGTR:

Click here to grab your free copy

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