Logo of the BBFC, used since 2019

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an organization that rates both motion pictures and videos (and, also, an increasing number of video games) in the United Kingdom. The rating system was introduced in 1912 and also rates videos. Because one county's view of a film is different from another county's view, county authorities are ultimately responsible for film ratings for cinema showings in their area. County councils often ignore the BBFC-advised rating, and rate films with another BBFC certificate in their county only, e.g.: the BBFC rates a film as 15 but the County council gives the film a 12A rating in their county. Rating certificates from the BBFC for movies are not legally binding, ex., someone younger than 15 may see a 15-rated movie, whereas those for videos are. British cinemas generally stick closely to these ratings policies, and a young person may often be asked for proof of age if deemed younger than the rating for 12A, 15, or 18 movies.

The current BBFC ratings are:

  • Uc (Universal Children) Suitable for all, but especially suitable for children under 4. Used for VHS and DVD only. Retired in 2009. However, some VHSes and DVDs prior to 2009 retain this rating. Equivalent to G.
  • U (Universal) Suitable for all. (The board states that while they cannot predict what might upset a particular child; a 'U' film should be suitable for audiences aged 4 and older). Equivalent to G.
  • PG (Parental Guidance) General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. (It is the board's policy that movies rated 'PG' should not disturb a child of about 8 years of age or older; however, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset young or more sensitive children). Equivalent to PG.
  • 12A (12 Advisory) Recommended for 12 years and older. People under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult. Used only in cinema, replaced 12 in 2002. Equivalent to PG-13.
  • 12 Recommended for 12 years and older. Anybody under 12 may see it (at home), as long as parents or guardians say they can. Nobody younger than 12 may rent or buy a '12' rated video. 12 was discontinued for cinema in 2002, and was replaced by 12A. Equivalent to PG-13.
  • 15 Suitable only for 15 years and older. Nobody younger than 15 may see a '15' film in a cinema. Nobody younger than 15 may rent or buy a '15' rated video. Equivalent to R.
  • 18 Suitable only for adults. Nobody younger than 18 may see an '18' film in a cinema. Nobody younger than 18 may rent or buy an '18' rated video. These films may contain strong language, strong sexual contact, and strong blood and gore. Equivalent to NC-17.
  • R18 (Restricted 18) To be shown only in specially licensed sex cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults only. These films contain sexually explicit or pornographic content.

British film certificates last had their appearances changed on October 2019 by making them simpler in their looks.

Video works that are given 12, 15, 18, or R18 certificates are legally restricted, and it is against the law (enforced by every council in the UK, but not by the Board itself) for anybody under age to obtain such material.

Films may receive a different rating when released on DVD/video to that at the cinema, for example, a film rated 12A at the cinema may get a PG, 12, or a 15 on DVD, depending on what content is in the video.

BBFC also has the right to refuse to rate a movie, calling it "rejected". This means that a film would get banned from the United Kingdom, if it surpassed the expectations of 18 or R18. BBFC doesn't usually refuse to classify films. BBFC refused more films in the 20th century than now. They had refused to rate Manhunt 2 (which in this case, that is a video game), but then after March 14, 2008, they unbanned that game, giving that an 18.

Videos deemed by their distributors to be exempt under the Video Recordings Act 1984 may bear the mark E (for exempt), though this is not a rating and the BBFC does not maintain a symbol. 


British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)
BBFC U.svg BBFC PG.svg BBFC 12A.svg BBFC 12.svg BBFC 15.svg BBFC 18.svg BBFC R18.svg

Formerly used certificates: A | H | X | AA | Uc | PG-12

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