British Board of Film Classification

From Retro CDN

British Board of Film Classification logo

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is the organisation responsible for film, DVD and some video game classification within the United Kingdom.

Responsibility and power

The BBFC rates theatrically-released films, videos and some video games. 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.

Under the Video Recordings Act 1984, all video releases not exempt (music, documentary, non-fiction, etc.) under the Act must be classified, it being illegal to supply any recording that has not been certified. Certificates can 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 Act 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 has identical content.

Symbol Name Definition
E Exempt from classification It is not an official symbol [1]. Distributor believes that the work is exempt from classification. (music, documentary, non-fiction, etc.)

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. Other video games may be submitted at the publisher's discretion.

All videos and 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.

Current certificates

The BBFC currently issues the following certificates. The category logos were introduced in early 2002.

Symbol Name Definition
Uc Universal Children Suitable for all, but especially made for children under 7 years of age.
U Universal All ages admitted, there is nothing unsuitable for children.
PG Parental Guidance All ages admitted, but parents are advised that certain scenes may be unsuitable for children under 8
12A 12 Accompanied Suitable for those aged 12 and over. Those aged under 12 are only admitted if accompanied by an adult at all times during the performance (replaced the standard 12 certificate for cinema releases only in 2002)
12 12 Suitable for those aged 12 and over.

No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a 12 rated VHS, DVD or game (home media only since 2002)

15 15 Suitable for those aged 15 and over.

Nobody younger than 15 may see a 15 film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a 15 rated VHS, DVD or game.

18 18 Suitable for those aged 18 and over.

Nobody younger than 18 may see an 18 film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an 18 rated VHS, DVD or game.

R18 Restricted 18 Suitable for those aged 18 and over. May only be shown at licensed cinemas or sold at sex shops, and only to people aged 18 or over.

Previous certificate set

The 2002 set saw a modernising of the certificates alongside the introduction of the 12A rating. Prior to this, a different set of graphics were used.

This set was introduced in 1985 (save for 12 which debuted in 1989). There was a subtle revision in 1999, but to the untrained eye the two sets are identical. Older sets were used in cinemas prior to 1985, but were not applied to home videos or video games.

Uc U PG 12 15 18 Restricted 18
(missing) BBFC U 1999.svg BBFC PG 1999.svg BBFC 12 1999.svg BBFC 15 1999.svg BBFC 18 1999.svg BBFC R18 1982-2002.png

See also