The official rules of the International Music Festival including rules for entries, broadcasting and voting.
There are several rules regarding the participation of a country in the contest and they are listed below.
- The country must be a member of the International Broadcasting Union with an active broadcaster. If the country is not a member, then an application must be made to the organization with the appropriate information.
- In order to take part in one edition, the country must confirm within the given deadline for confirmation. If the country does not confirm their participation before the deadline, then they are not allowed to participate. Exceptions can be made in very rare cases after the organization reviews the country's request.
- In case of a Head of Delgation change, the country is forced to withdraw from the edition unless the country has already withdrew from the edition earlier.
- It is required that all shows of the edition are broadcast in the country. Also, the whole show must be broadcast, with no interruptions. However, the pre-qualification round is not mandatory to broadcast.
Before selecting an entry, each broadcaster must take into consideration the following rules.
- Songs that have taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest or its Junior version are not allowed to take part in the contest.
- Songs that have been released before 2001 are not allowed to take part in the contest.
- Songs that cover or sample another song are not allowed to take part in the contest.
- Songs that have been revamped or remixed are not allowed to take part in the contest. However, if the original singer is featured on the song, the song is allowed to take part.
- Songs must not be longer than three minutes. In case the song exceeds the length limit, the song must be cut down to a three minute version.
- There are no restrictions regarding the language; the song can be in any language, no matter the country it represents.
- Snippets do not count as a release date - as long as they're shorter than 1/3 of a song.
- Songs that heavily use irony or swear language are not allowed to take part in the contest.
There are some rules regarding the performers representing a country in the contest and they are listed below.
- In case of an internal selection, the singer must be native to the country.
- In case of a national selection, the singer may be native to the country or have strong connections to it.
- The singer must be over the age of 16 on the day the song was released. Singers below that age are allowed to compete in the junior version of the contest.
- Bands or duos that have split are not allowed to compete in the contest.
- Singers that have died cannot compete in the contest.
An entry can be either selected via an internal or a national selection. However, there are some rules applying to both and they are listed below.
In case of an internal selection, the broadcaster must follow some rules when organizing a national selection.
- All the artists must be native from the country the selection takes place in.
- Artists that have roots from the country are allowed to compete as well, as long as their connection with the country is strong enough..
- Artists that are not native to the country are allowed to take part as foreign acts, as long as they have been approved by the NBU. However, there are some rules regarding the foreign acts.
- There are no rules regarding the amount of songs, the length or the voting system of the selection.
- The national selection can start only after the confirmations of the edition have opened.
- The results of the selection have to be presented before the given songs deadline. However, the broadcaster is allowed to submit a request for a later result presentation.
- Songs that have been used in the national selection cannot be used again in a further national or internal selection. If a national selection was cancelled and its songs were already announced then the songs cannot be used again.
In case of an internal selection, the broadcaster must follow some rules when selecting an entry.
- The artist must be native to the country.
- The song must be submitted to the NBU before the given songs deadline.
- The song must be presented within the given songs deadline.
There are some rules regarding the voting procedure in each of the editions of the contest.
- Public and jury voting must be used with its combining result representing the votes for the country in the respective show. Countries that are unable to deliver a part of the voting, the same result will be used for all three.
- The country must submit their combined and split televoting and jury results to the executive supervisor responsible for the respective edition.
- The voting result must be submitted within the given voting deadline. Unless the Head of Delegation informs for their inability to vote, the country will receive a strike in case they fail to submit their votes in time.
- The voting result must be announced during the live show by a person appointed by the broadcaster as the spokesperson for the country.
Some countries that have smaller music industries are allowed to borrow from neighbouring or countries they have connections with. They do not need to host a national selection in order to select an artist from their borrowing country. These countries are the following:
- Andorra from Spain
- Faroe Islands from Denmark
- Liechtenstein from Austria and Switzerland
- Luxembourg from Belgium
- Monaco from France
- San Marino from Italy
Note that these countries cannot borrow singers that are not fully native to the borrowing country. Also, the respective Head of Delegation must be asked for permission to use the artist from their country.
In case of any country breaking the above rules, the country is punished by either receiving a strike or getting banned from the contest, depending on the rule that was broken. If a broadcaster gets three strikes, the country is suspended for one edition and can return to the contest with other broadcaster if needed.
- A broadcaster can get a strike for:
- Failing to submit their votes before the given voting deadline.
- Sending an entry without getting approval from the IBU.
- Failing to present their entry before the given songs deadline.
- Cheating in a national selection.
- Failing to confirm/withdraw for an edition.
- A broadcaster can be temporarily banned for:
- Getting three strikes.
- Cheating once on voting.
- A broadcaster can be banned forever for:
- Cheating repeatedly in the voting process of the contest.