British Board of Classification
150px-BBFC Logo.svg
Type NGO
Industry Film and video game classification
Founded 1912

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is a non-governmental organisation, funded by the film industry and responsible for the national classification of films within the United Kingdom. It has a statutory requirement to classify videos, DVDs and some video games under the Video Recordings Act 2010. The BBFC rates theatrically released films, and rated videos and video games that forfeited exemption from the Video Recordings Act 1984, which was discovered in August 2009 to be unenforceable until the act was re-enacted as the Video Recordings Act 2010. Legally, local authorities have the power to decide under what circumstances films are shown in cinemas, but they nearly always choose to follow the advice of the BBFC. The Video Recordings Act requires that video releases not exempt (music, documentary, non-fiction, video games, etc.) under the Act had to be classified, making it illegal to supply any recording that had not been certified. Certificates could restrict release to any age of 18 or under, or to only licensed sex-shops. The government currently designate the BBFC as the authority for certifying video releases. As the law requires the certificate to be displayed on the packaging and media labels of the video recording, in practice only UK releases can be legally sold or hired in the UK, even if a foreign release had identical content. Video games with specific themes or content (such as the Grand Theft Auto series) must also be submitted to the BBFC to receive a legally binding rating (contrast with the advisory PEGI ratings) in the same way as videos, however, under the Digital Economy Act 2010, responsibility for rating games that include violence or encourage criminal activity will pass from the BBFC to the Video Standards Council. Other video games may be submitted at the publisher's discretion. All films and video games rated by the BBFC receive a certificate, along with "consumer advice" detailing references to sex, violence and coarse language. If a certificate specifies that a film or video game is only suitable for someone over a certain age, then only those over that age may buy it. The BBFC can also advise cuts for a less-restrictive rating. This generally occurs in borderline cases where distributors have requested a certificate and the BBFC has rated the work at a more-restrictive level; however, some cuts are compulsory, such as scenes that violate the Protection of Children Act or Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act. The final certificate then depends on the distributor's decision on whether or not to make the suggested cuts. Some works are even rejected if the distributor refuses the cut. Both examiners and the directors of the BBFC are hired on a permanent basis. Examiners are required to watch 5 hours 20 mins of media, to a maximum of 35 hours a week. Turnover is low and vacancies, when available, appear on their London job vacancies website.


Icon Rating Name Description
50px-BBFC U.svg Universal Suitable for all ages.
50px-BBFC PG.svg Parental Guidance All ages admitted, but certain scenes may be unsuitable for children under 8.
50px-BBFC 12A.svg 12A Cinema only. Introduced in 2002.

Films under this category are considered to be unsuitable for very young people. Those aged under 12 years are only admitted if accompanied by an adult, aged at least 18 years, at all times during the motion picture. However, it is generally not recommended that children under 12 years should watch the film. Films under this category can contain mature themes, discrimination, soft drugs, commonly used milder swear words, and moderate violence/sex references.

50px-BBFC 12.svg 12 Home media only since 2002. 12A-rated films are usually given a 12 certificate for the VHS/DVD version unless extra material has been added that requires a higher rating.

Nobody younger than 12 can rent or buy a 12-rated VHS, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, UMD or game. Films in this category may include infrequent drugs, infrequent use of strong language, brief nudity, discreet sexual activity, and moderate violence.

50px-BBFC 15.svg 15 Suitable for 15 or older.
50px-BBFC 18.svg 18 Suitable for 18 and older.
50px-BBFC R18.svg Restricted 18 Can only be shown at licensed cinemas or sold at sex shops. Films under this category have material the BBFC does not allow for its "18" rating, thus the violence and sex activity will be stronger in R18-rated VHSs, DVDs and films than those rated "18," however, there is still a range of material that is often cut from the R18 rating. More cuts are demanded in this category than any other category.