UK Productions Still Green-lit Despite Brexit Red Tape

Yep, the ‘B’ word! Sure, we know Brexit isn’t the sexiest of topics (drier than a bread sandwich springs to mind), but with the end of the transition period finally upon us, we are knee-deep in new regulations and rules, causing a knock-on effect for film and television production in the UK and countless policy changes. This has left us all with a few (a lot!) of questions. While discussions are still ongoing and every question far from resolved, we’re here to help run through some VIPs (that’s very important policies) and what they might mean for you. 

Oh, and one more thing. We hope this run through shows that, despite recent changes, one thing has never changed. Bottom line, the UK and Scotland remain open for business! Harriet Finney, Director of External Affairs for the BFI summed it up nicely - “whilst we might be leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe”. Red tape doesn’t mean a red light - we’re green-lit! Here’s how. 


With the end of the transition period, came the end of freedom of movement within the EU (communal sigh). We know the short term movement of people and talent is a biggie for film and TV production so let’s get into it.

Currently, The UK and EU are providing visa-free travel for tourism purposes, visiting friends and family and for certain business trips, including attending trade fairs, conferences and meetings. Within these purposes, EU citizens can travel to the UK for six months without a visa, while UK nationals are able to travel visa free in the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

But, what about travelling to the EU for a production? Each EU Member State has its own rules regarding business activities that can go ahead visa-free. If you need to travel for a production, be sure to check the relevant regulations for each EU Member State you plan to visit. You can find them here in this country-by-country guide.

Need to travel to the UK from the EU for a production? If you are a UK employer looking to recruit EU members for your production, you’ll now need to follow the sponsorship rules that previously only applied to non-EU cast and crew. EU members moving to the UK for temporary work, such as joining an HETV or film production, may apply for a Temporary Worker - Creative and Sporting visa (T5) visa which entitles visa-holders to move to the UK for a maximum of up to 12 months (with scope for extension). In order to qualify for a T5 visa, workers must first receive a job offer from a recognised sponsor. Employers wishing to sponsor EU members for a T5 visa can find out more with this guide.

What about shorter-term filming? Good news. According to the BFI, ‘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’.


The movement of goods and equipment is essential to the day-to-day running of productions. While Brexit has ushered in new sanctions and regulations around the free movement of goods, there is good news for film and TV production.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement has confirmed the exemption of temporary movement of filming equipment from taxes and import duties. Bingo! The EU is also making provisions for the movement of equipment through a number of methods, such as the introduction of ATA carnets.

What’s an ATA carnet you may ask? ATA carnets are internationally recognised customs documents accepted in around 70 countries. They travel with the goods and are checked at borders, kind of like a passport for equipment. But, before you say bon voyage to your equipment, be sure to - you guessed it - check the specific rules with the issuer in the country you are exporting to or importing from. Each country has their own rules regarding what you can and can’t export, so check before you send.

The carnets cost a few bob too and processing can take time, so be sure to confirm the price of purchase and get your carnet in advance to avoid a deadline dash. For more details on the temporary export of goods and equipment to and from the UK, check out the GOV.UK website.

As of 1 January 2021, new rules also apply to the international road haulage of goods and equipment. First off, The EU Community Licence has been phased out in place of The UK Licence for the Community. If you had an EU Community Licence, you should have automatically received your UK Licence for the Community by 31 December 2020. Operators will still require a standard international operator license for Great Britain or for Northern Ireland. Each country also requires its own permits and licences, so check which international road haulage permits you need before you travel.

Oh, and got a swanky talent trailer you need transporting? You’ll need to apply for a keeper’s certificate for abnormal load trailers if you’re transporting any abnormal film and TV-related vehicles. Further details on driving in the EU can be found here.


Data makes the world of film go round. For the next six months beyond the end of the transition period (11pm, 31 December) The Trade and Cooperation Agreement is permitting the export of personal data from the EU to the UK.

During the next six months the European Commission will carry out an assessment on the UK’s current data protection laws to make sure we’re squeaky clean. If, after six months the UK is deemed adequate, the EU will maintain unrestricted personal data flows with the UK. Currently, there are no changes to the way you send personal data from the UK to the EU.


It is useful to note that on 1 January 2021 the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming ended, although the UK government has suggested this may change in the future. But fear not, the UK government has legislated to set a financial limit on mobile data usage, in order to protect users from unexpected charges (we’ve all been there). This currently stands at £45 per monthly billing cycle, after which you cannot continue to use mobile data unless you actively choose to continue spending.


European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cards were phased out from the 31 December 2020, but you can continue to use your EHIC until its valid expiration date. Has your EHIC card already expired? Then you can apply for a Global Health Insurance (GHIC) card. Side note, if you’re travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel – you can find our more here.

The GHIC behaves very similarly to the EHIC, entitling all UK residents to the same treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in the EU that locals are entitled to, at the same cost. But remember, GHIC cards can take several weeks to arrive so be sure to order your card at least two weeks before you travel.

Visiting the UK from an EU country? You can still use your EHIC card issued by the EU country you are visiting from, which will cover the costs of treatment during your visit.

The EHIC and GHIC cards are not, however, an alternative to travel insurance. When travelling for your production, it is important to take out appropriate travel insurance, details of which can be found here.


The UK ceased participation with the Creative Europe programme on 31 December 2020, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement (but all UK projects that secured funding before 31 December 2020 will continue to receive funding as normal). All deadlines for MEDIA sub-programme schemes, for which UK companies were previously eligible, have also passed. However, The Creative Europe Media Desk UK remains open until 31 March 2021.

But all hope is not lost! While the UK’s access to direct EU funding has passed, according to The BFI ‘there are many international training courses and industry initiatives funded by the programme that will remain open to UK participants under the new programme from 2021 to 2027’. Great! This includes the EU’s Horizon Europe programme (2021-2027), a research and innovation framework programme that seeks to support “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society”. Further guidance is currently awaited.

What’s more, The UK government has confirmed the delivery of a Global Screen Fund that will support UK independent TV and film content in an international market, with £7 million confirmed for its first year. Consultations as to how this fund can best support the creative industry are currently taking place between the UK government and The BFI, so keep your eyes peeled.


This one’s short and sweet. According to the BFI, the UK will continue to be represented as part of the European Film Agency Directors (EFAD) association. Works originating from the UK will also still be considered European works according to the quotas outlined in the European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). This has been confirmed by both the European Commission and the UK government.

There we go! Sure, not a rip-roaring rollicking read, and by no means an answer to every question brought up by the end of the transition period, but we hope it’s helped. We have found some further useful resources (yep, there’s more!) that we’d like to share from the real Brexit boffins. You and your business can also get a personalised list of actions from the Brexit checker.

In the meantime, we are continuing to create work we’re proud of, to support our film and television community, and we remain here for you. Drop us a line, send us an email, ping us a Tweet! We look forward to being in touch and keeping creative, and we’re here to help navigate these changes together.

*Disclaimer* The information provided has been compiled to the best of our ability, but may be subject to change. Please double-check any information before proceeding.