30% Cash Rebate

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30% Cash Rebate FAQs

30% Cash Rebate FAQs

The Rebate

What is the Abu Dhabi Production Incentive Scheme (“the Rebate”)?

The Rebate is an incentive scheme that provides a refund of up to 30% of Abu Dhabi Qualifying Production Expenditure (ADQPE) to Production Companies producing part or post-producing all of their productions in Abu Dhabi.

When did the Rebate start?

The Rebate became effective as of 1st September 2012.

Who will administer the rebate?

The Rebate will be administered by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (“ADFC”).

Who is eligible for the Rebate?

Regional and International Production and/or Production Services Companies who have commenced principal photography after 1 September 2012 and who meet the Rebate Guidelines’ eligibility requirements for the:

  1. Applicant’s Profile 
  2. Production Format 
  3. Funding Structure 
  4. Minimum ADQPE

Who can apply for the Rebate?

The applicant can be either: 

  1. A Production and/or Production Services Company applying through a partnership with a Media Zone-Abu Dhabi registered entity; or, 
  2. A Production or Production Services Company who is a Media Zone – Abu Dhabi registered entity.
Only one entity per Production can apply. Entities receiving Abu Dhabi public funding are not eligible.

Before the application

What type of productions may qualify for the Rebate?

  • Feature films
  • Television, programmes and series including: 
    • Documentaries 
    • Telemovies 
    • Episodic (drama/comedy) 
  • Commercials/advert

What types of productions do not qualify for the Rebate?

  • News and current affairs. 
  • Magazine shows, Infotainment, talk shows and lifestyle programming. 
  • Productions with a primary purpose of fund-raising 
  • Productions with a primary purpose of training or in-house corporate advertising/promotions 
  • Sports and public events coverage 
  • Animation
  • Music Videos
  • Reality TV and game shows

Does a project have to be filmed in Abu Dhabi to apply for the Rebate, or can Post Production (or PDV) costs qualify?

Projects do not have to be filmed in Abu Dhabi to qualify for the Rebate. Projects that are using Abu Dhabi-based post production services, as part of a co-production or facilitation agreement, can also apply for the Rebate.

When should an application be made?

Applications for the Rebate should be received at least 20 days before commencement of principal photography in Abu Dhabi and 40 days if there are script approvals required from the National Media Council. Principal photography must start within 60 days of Issuance of the Interim Rebate Certificate by ADFC. Please note that applicants must obtain an Interim Rebate Certificate during pre-production (i.e. before commencing principal photography).

Can we get an initial decision on the script prior to submitting a full application?

If there is content that requires the approval of the National Media Council, then a preliminary approval on the script can be requested prior to completing the full application. If script approval is requested, a response should be provided within 20 days of submission of the script.

Can we obtain an indication of the possible level of Rebate that our production is entitled to before submitting a full application?

Yes. In order to obtain an approximate indication of the level of the Rebate to which they may be entitled, applicants can provide all the necessary financial information (including budget, shooting schedule and predicted ADQPE) in advance of submitting a full application.

The application process

What is the application process?

Script Approvals

  • ADFC receives and Reviews Script/Synopsis and applies for National Media Council content clearance (if necessary)

Applicaton

  • ADFC reviews predicted ADQPE budget and shooting schedule and advises the Production Company regarding the possible level of the Rebate

Interim Certificate

  • Full application pack is submitted by Production Company at least twenty (20) days prior to principal photography
  • ADFC assesses full application and, if approved,
  • ADFC issue Interim Certificate
  • Principal photography must commence within sixty (60) days of the date of the Interim Certificate

Final Certificate

  • Audited expenditure statements with signed sworn statement provided by applicant within ninety (90) days of the completion of production
  • Sample footage or rushes in DVD format (if requested by ADFC) 
  • ADFC reviews completed expenditure reports and audited statements and if there are no questions or additional information required, will issue a Final Certificate within fourteen (20) days

Payment

  • Following acceptance of a completed audit report, and issuance of a Final Certificate, payment made to Abu Dhabi registered company within sixty (60) days of the date of the Final Certificate

What documents are needed as part of the full application?

For feature films, series in episodes, mini series, and television programs:

  1. Latest draft of the shooting script 
  2. Copy of NMC script approval 
  3. Shooting schedule 
  4. Total itemized ADQPE budget for the production expenses in Abu Dhabi 
  5. Copy of the executed agreement between the applicant and the international financier(s) of the production (where applicable) 
  6. Copy of agreement between Media Zone – Abu Dhabi based entity and International Production entity (where applicable). 
  7. Copy of relevant production insurance binder , including proof of Public Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Liability (does not apply to post-production projects) 
  8. Sworn statement 
  9. Current trade license of Applicant Company

For factual/documentaries:

  1. Latest draft of the shooting script. 
  2. Copy of NMC script approval 
  3. Shooting schedule 
  4. Total, itemized ADQPE budget for the production expenses in Abu Dhabi 
  5. Copy of the executed agreement between the applicant and the international financier(s) of the production (where applicable) 
  6. Copy of the agreement between Media Zone – Abu Dhabi based entity and International Production Company, (where applicable) 
  7. Copy of relevant production insurance binder including proof of Public Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Liability (does not apply to post-production projects) 
  8. Sworn statement 
  9. Current trade license of Applicant Company

For commercials:

  1. Endorsement letter from client 
  2. Storyboard(s), and/or treatment 
  3. Shooting schedule 
  4. Total, itemized ADQPE budget for the production expenses in Abu Dhabi 
  5. Copy of the executed agreement between the applicant and the international financier(s) of the production (where applicable) 
  6. Copy of the agreement between Media Zone – Abu Dhabi based entity and International Production entity (where applicable) 
  7. Copy of relevant production insurance binder , including proof of Public Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Liability (does not apply to post-production projects) 
  8. Sworn statement 
  9. Current trade license of Applicant Company.

For Post Production, Digital Effects and Sound:

  1. Up to date script/story board(s) or synopsis 
  2. Post production schedule 
  3. Total itemized ADQPE post-production budget for post-production expenses in Abu Dhabi 
  4. Copy of the agreement between Media Zone – Abu Dhabi based entity and International Production Company (where applicable) 
  5. Sworn statement 
  6. Current trade license of Applicant Company

Where do I submit my completed Application Form?

One soft copy (electronic) and one hard copy of the completed Application Form, with all required documentation, should be sent to:

Abu Dhabi Film Commission
P.O. Box 77809
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
info@film.gov.ae

Once we have received the necessary approvals and submitted the full applications, how long will it take to receive an Interim Certificate?

Once all relevant information has been received, and the application has been approved, an Interim Rebate Certificate should be issued within 20 working days.

Calculation and qualification

How will the Rebate be calculated?

The Rebate is based on 30% of the total value of ADQPE for the preproduction, production, and/or post production of the project. Our website hosts an ADQPE worksheet for the applicant to fill in.

What type of expenditure qualifies as ADQPE for the rebate?

Preproduction and Production expenditures incurred in Abu Dhabi, or expenditures that are attributed to making the production in Abu Dhabi, including: 

  • Fees paid to below-the-line crew only for the period for which the services are provided in Abu Dhabi (see Appendix 1 of the Rebate Guidelines for a non-exhaustive list) 
  • Per diems of up to US $100 per person per day for the period during which the person is providing services in Abu Dhabi 
  • Equipment rental fees for equipment that is supplied by an Abu Dhabi licensed entity 
  • Budgeted production costs (hire of extras, location rental, set building, accommodation, domestic travel, post-production services and location hire) 
  • General business overhead costs only: 
    • For payments to authorized Abu Dhabi-registered suppliers and 
    • To the extent that they are wholly incurred in respect of the production in Abu Dhabi. 
  • International travel costs if booked via a travel agency located in the Media Zone – Abu Dhabi 
  • Professional advisors who are registered in Abu Dhabi (legal, accountancy, payroll services and audit fees) to the extent that the fees apply wholly to the Abu Dhabi elements of the production (including costs for the preparation of the Rebate documentation) 
  • Cost of insurance policies (such as worker’s compensation, third party liability and production insurance) that are sourced and paid via an Abu Dhabi based broker and which are taken out in respect of production or post-production activity in Abu Dhabi 

Except in relation to below-the-line crew fees, all qualifying ADQPE payments must be paid to Abu Dhabi-based entities. The Rebate Guidelines provide more detailed information about ADQPE.

What are examples of the type of expenditure that will not qualify as ADQPE?

  • Fees paid to cast members, other above-the-line personnel: executive producers, producers, directors, casting directors, talent agencies, consultants, stunt performers and screenwriters
  • Equipment depreciation costs 
  • Purchase or long-term leasing of land and related costs 
  • Financing expenditures (bank/credit card charges, currency exchange fees and adjustments and interest payments) 
  • Legal work on a Production and Investment Agreement (including debt and equity) 
  • Insurance policy costs related to errors and omissions and completion bonds 
  • Payroll fees or taxes for cast, crew and extras 
  • Expenditures that are dependent on the production’s commercial performance and its earnings such as: 
    • any form of contingent deferred payment 
    • payments dependent on any form of profit to be derived from the production 
    • amounts payable in relation to any form of residual payment under any entertainment industry union or guild agreement 
  • Advances 
  • Gifts and entertainment expenses (cast perks, gifts, entertainment and gratuities) 
  • Publicity and marketing costs 
  • Purchase of capital goods

Spend details

What type of labour costs qualify for the Rebate?

Labour costs relating to contracting with Abu Dhabi registered crew and services; per-diems of up to US $100 per person per day for activities in Abu Dhabi; and below-the- line crew for the period for which the services are provided in Abu Dhabi. The Guidelines provide more detailed information about ADQPE.

Do Above-the-Line costs qualify?

Fees paid to above-the-line personnel (executive producers, producers, directors, casting directors, talent agencies, consultants, stunt performers and screenwriters) do not qualify as ADQPE.

Do travel and accommodation costs qualify for the Rebate?

International travel costs do qualify for the Rebate if booked via a travel agency located in the Media Zone – Abu Dhabi. Accommodation booked in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi qualifies.

Do shipping charges qualify?

Air Freight charges qualify, if booked through an Abu Dhabi company. However, applicable customs charges and bonds levied on the temporary importation of goods do not qualify for the Rebate.

Do office costs, including capital purchases, qualify as ADQPE?

General business overhead costs do qualify as ADQPE but only for payments to authorized Abu Dhabi-registered suppliers and to the extent that they are wholly incurred in respect of the production in Abu Dhabi. Production office expenses in the UAE will qualify for the rebate, such as: rent and service charges; general stationery and supplies; leased office equipment (if sourced in Abu Dhabi); and, costs associated with the day-to-day running of the office. Costs associated with hospitality or events are not eligible. Capital purchases are generally not eligible.

What is the minimum spend? Is there a cap on the Rebate paid?

The following are the minimum ADQPE spend amounts in USD:

Production Spend

Type of Project Min UAE Spend Max Rebate per Project
Feature Films $200,000 $5,000,000
TV Programmes and Series $50,000 $1,000,000
Commercials $25,000 $500,000

Post Production Spend

Type of Project Min UAE Spend Max Rebate per Project
Feature Films $70,000 $250,000
TV Programmes and Series $15,000 $150,000
Commercials $10,000 $150,000

What if we spend more in Abu Dhabi than planned? Will the extra expenditure qualify?

The final audit will confirm the overall ADQPE and the amount of the Rebate. If the estimated production spend in Abu Dhabi is greater than the Interim Rebate Certificate, the greater amount may be paid - subject to the appropriate audit being carried out. If changes to the production affect the budget whereby the total ADQPE is likely to vary by +/- 20% or +/- 1,000,000 AED (whichever is smaller) from the Interim Certificate value and/or changes are made to creative personnel, cast, and/or filming locations), the Applicant must notify ADFC in writing at the time of making such changes and confirm with ADFC whether implementing them may affect the eligibility of the production for a Rebate.

Does a certain percentage of the crew have to be from Abu Dhabi?

There is not a required percentage; however, every project receiving the Rebate has an obligation to offer training and to provide internship opportunities.

Audit and payment of the rebate

Who will do the audit for the Final Certificate?

Independent auditors, with experience in the entertainment industry, must be approved by ADFC to carryout the final audit, as well as to verify the ADQPE and the Audited Expenditure Statement.

How do we obtain a Final Certificate to qualify for the Rebate?

Within 90 days of the completion of all production or post-production (where applicable) work in Abu Dhabi, the applicant must submit the following to ADQPE: 

  1. An Audited Expenditure Statement prepared by an independent Certified Auditor and not an employee of the applicant company or its subsidiaries. ADFC must give prior approval of the Certified Auditor; 
  2. DVD of sample footage or rushes shot in Abu Dhabi; 
  3. A declaration (sworn statement) from the Applicant.

How long does it take to receive the Rebate?

The applicant must submit the final completed application documents within 90days of completion of the production or post production work in Abu Dhabi. Upon receipt of all of the required documentation, including the Audited Expenditure Statement, ADFC will take approximately 20 days to carry out the final assessment. If there are no questions or additional information required, the Rebate will be paid to applicant within 60 days of the issuance of the Final Certificate.