Creative industries: international trade regulations

Tariffs and duties in the creative and media sector


A range of import-specific regulations must be complied with by all businesses in this sector. The key issues relate to the Tariff, duties, tax refund and Intrastat reporting requirements. Read more about import regulations in the creative industries sector.

Using the Integrated Tariff

A common customs tariff is applied across all European Union (EU) countries on goods imported from outside the EU. Details of specific tariff duties and measures are contained in the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom.

See an introduction to the Tariff.

The Tariff is used to determine the specific classification code of your goods and to find:

  • any licensing requirements that apply
  • the rates of duty and import VAT that apply
  • any additional charges, such as anti-dumping duties
  • any available preferential duty rates

Preferential rates of duty

The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) allows originating products from a range of countries to be imported into the EU at a reduced or zero duty rate. For more information on how to determine whether a product is an originating one, read Notice 830 - Tariff Preference: New GSP rules of origin.

The European Community has a number of other trade agreements with third countries, as a result of which goods may attract preferential rates of duty.

Sector-specific taxation or refunds

Specific schemes may apply to certain creative and media output.

A British film, for example, may be eligible for interim or final Film Tax Relief (FTR), depending on whether or not the film has been completed, and whether it meets:

  • the cultural test - ie the legal definition of a British film
  • the terms of one of the UK's bilateral co-production treaties
  • the terms of the European Convention on Cinematic Co-Production

You must have the film formally certified as qualifying for FTR. For more information, browse the index of the Film Production Company Manual.

Special tax treatment may apply to non-UK resident entertainers who appear in the UK or to businesses paying such entertainers. You can find more information on the Foreign Entertainers Unit.


If you are VAT registered and the goods you acquire from or supply to VAT-registered businesses in other EU countries reach the Intrastat exemption threshold for the year, you must submit monthly supplementary declarations to HMRC. The current thresholds are £1.5 million for Arrivals and £250,000 for Dispatches.

Intrastat is the method of collecting information and producing statistics on goods traded between EU member states. See Intrastat - reporting the value and volume of intra-EU trade. Intrastat is only applicable to VAT-registered traders.