British Board of Film Classification

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How does classification work?

Here you can find more information about the BBFC’s classification process. Customers looking for information on submitting works should visit the Industry Services Section of the website.

In order to protect children from unsuitable and even harmful content in films and videos and to give consumers information they might need about a particular film or video before deciding whether or not to view it, the BBFC examines and age rates films and videos before they are released. This independent scrutiny prior to release ensures the highest possible level of protection and empowerment.

We watch films and videos all the way through and award an age rating and BBFCinsight to each one. We reach an age rating by applying the standards and criteria contained in our Classification Guidelines which can be downloaded below.

Typically, two Compliance Officers view a film for theatrical release. In most cases a Compliance Manager will confirm the Compliance Officers’ recommendation. But if the Compliance Officers are in any doubt or fail to agree, or if important policy issues are involved, the work may be seen by other members of the Board up to, and including, the Chief Executive and Presidential team. Occasionally we need to take specialist advice about the legal acceptability of film content or its potential for harm.

The same process exists for DVDs and Blu-rays though generally these are seen by one Examiner. However, opinions from other Compliance Officers may be required for more difficult works.

We look at issues such as discrimination, drugs, horror, dangerous and easily imitable behaviour, language, nudity, sex, and violence when making decisions. The theme of the work is also an important consideration. We also consider context, the tone and likely impact of a work on the potential audience.

The release format of a work has an impact on classification. Our decisions on the age rating of DVDs and Blu-rays can occasionally be stricter than at the cinema because there is a higher risk of underage viewing in the home and a greater potential for watching scenes out of context.

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