British Board of Film Classification

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VRA compliance failures

The BBFC is not an enforcement agency but we would be failing in our duty as a semi-statutory body responsible for classification if we took no action in relation to instances which had come to our attention, regarding the illegal supply of video works.

Distributors and retailers can both commit compliance failures. It is therefore important for any VRA enforcement action to target the appropriate party.

Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) conduct checks on retailers in their area, such a test purchases, they are therefore in the best position to investigate VRA breaches at the retailer level.

With regard to distributors, many are customers of the BBFC, therefore, for issues relating to VRA classification and labelling offences, the BBFC is able to act as an ‘honest broker’ between LEAs and those distributors with whom we already have a relationship.

The BBFC and LEAs have therefore agreed to work together to deal with compliance issues involving a distributor who is a customer of the BBFC. This will add to the notifications we already receive from third parties (eg members of the public via our website).

What can the BBFC do?

The BBFC can assist LEAs in their investigations into compliance failures in the following ways:

Underage sale

The LEA raises the issue with the retailer. The BBFC will still provide Certificates of Evidence as usual on request.

R18 on sale in unlicensed sex shop

The LEA raises the issue with the retailer. The BBFC will still provide Certificates of Evidence as usual on request.

Unclassified non-exempt work/Labelling offence

The LEA may contact the BBFC, who will raise the issue with the distributor.
if the distributor is a BBFC customer or refer the issue back to the LEA if the distributor is not.

What should I do?

To raise the issue of an offence with the BBFC, LEAs should send the following information in an email to

  • Title of work
  • Type of work (DVD, Blu-ray, game etc)
  • Category on box/outer packaging/disc (if any)
  • Compliance issue
  • Name of retailer

Please note: we are not able to issue Certificates of Evidence for this type of query.

How much does it cost?

Nothing, we carry out this work as part of our law enforcement role, as designated by the DCMS.

Is there anything else I need to consider?

If another third party (eg a member of the public) draws our attention to a work which is being sold in breach of the VRA and for which the distributor is not a BBFC customer, the BBFC will advise the third party to bring it to the attention of the relevant LEA, and will copy this advice to LACORS.

Please see the below VRA compliance failures downloads for full details of the policy.

Related documents and downloads

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