Motion picture rating system

A motion picture rating system categorizes films with regard to suitability for audiences in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. A particular issued rating is called a certification.

This helps parents decide whether a movie is suitable for their children. Also, in some jurisdictions a rating may impose on movie theaters the legal obligation of refusing the entrance of children or minors to the movie. Furthermore, where movie theaters do not have this legal obligation, they may enforce restrictions on their own. Ratings are often given in lieu of censorship.

There is often debate as to the usefulness, strictness and enforcement of such systems. People may like content with a high rating. This includes children who may like to see content considered unsuitable for them (forbidden fruit phenomenon). "Unrated", "uncut", "uncensored", etc. versions, released on DVD have become increasingly common.

In countries such as Australia, an official government body decides on ratings; in other countries, such as the United States, it is done by industry committees with no official government status. In most countries, however, films that are considered morally offensive have been censored, restricted, or banned. Even if the film rating system has no legal consequences, and a film has not explicitly been restricted or banned, there are usually laws forbidding certain films, or forbidding minors to view them.

The influence of specific factors in deciding a rating varies from country to country. For example, in countries such as the US, films with mild sexual content are often restricted to adult viewers, whereas in countries such as France and Germany, sexual content is viewed much more leniently. On the other hand, films with violent content are often subject in countries such as Germany and Finland to high ratings and even censorship, whereas countries such as the US offer more lenient ratings to violent movies.

A film may be produced with a particular rating in mind. It may be re-edited if the desired rating is not obtained, especially to avoid a higher rating than intended. A film may also be re-edited to produce an alternate version for other countries.


El Instituto de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales a través de la Comisión Asesora de Exposiciones de obras cinematográficas utiliza el siguiente sistema:

ATP: Apto para todas las edades, ATP significa "APTA (para) Todo Público", que significa "para todos los públicos"

13: Apropiado para 13 años y más

16: Apropiado para 16 años y más

18: Apropiado para 18 años y más

X: Sexualmente explícito

E: Exento. Habida cuenta de las películas sobre deportes, música etc


The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a government funded organization which classifies all films that are released for public exhibition.

The classification board is comprised primarily of liberal members, therefore the OFLC has a strong influence on "Informing your Choices". Theatrical advertising is accompanied by a colour-coded symbol for each classification category. This is accompanied by consumer advice such as mild, moderate, strong or high level coarse language, nudity, sexual references, themes etc. Only the MA15+, R18+ and X18+ classifications are legally restricted. Up until recently, the PG and M classifications were given a guide line age barrier with a recommended age of 15 for PG so that people under 15 should have parental guidance and that people under 15 shouldn't watch M rated movies. Now it is just PG for parental guidance and M for mature audiences.

The E rating is used in films which do not have a need to be classified, such as educational documentaries. However, documentaries or concerts that may exceed the guidelines of the PG classification must be submitted for classification.

  • E - Exempt from classification. Films that are exempt from classification must not contain contentious material (i.e. material that would ordinarily be rated M or higher).
  •  G  - General. The content is very mild in impact.
  •  PG  - Parental guidance recommended. The content is mild in impact.
  •  M  - Recommended for mature audiences. The content is moderate in impact.
  •  MA15+  - Not suitable for persons under 15. Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The content is strong in impact.
  •  R18+  - Restricted to adults 18 years and over. The content is high in impact.
  •  X18+  - Restricted to adults 18 years and over. This rating applies to pornographic content (sold in the ACT and the NT only, but the content can be purchased interstate via mail order).
  • RC - Refused Classification. Banned from sale or hire in Australia.


Filme werden bewertet in Österreich durch eine Kommission des österreichischen Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur. Jedes der neun Bundesländer können wieder-Rate-Filme, oder halten die ursprünglichen Einschätzung des Hotels. Speichermedien, wie DVDs, sind nicht bewertet in Österreich. Aus diesem Grund viele Filme, die verboten sind in Deutschland erworben werden können, auf DVD in Österreich. Die Kategorien sind:

  • Freigegeben für alle Altersstufen ": keine Altersbeschränkung
  • Freigegeben ab 6 Jahren ": nicht empfohlen für Kinder unter 6 Jahren
  • Freigegeben ab 10 Jahren ": nicht empfohlen für Kinder unter 10 Jahren
  • Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren ": nicht empfohlen für Kinder unter 12 Jahren
  • Freigegeben ab 14 Jahren ": nicht empfohlen für Kinder unter 14 Jahren
  • Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren ": nicht empfohlen für Kinder unter 16 Jahren
  • E: befreit


  • KT/EA -Kinderen Toegelaten / Enfants Admis (Kinderen zijn toegetreden) - Toegestaan voor alle
  • KNT/ENA -Kinderen Niet Toegelaten / Enfants Niet Admis (kinderen niet toegelaten) - Niet toegestaan voor kinderen onder de 16
  • E - Vrijstelling

Voor DVD-releases, België meestal gebruikt het systeem van Nederland.


Movies estão cotados no Brasil pela DJCTQ, ou Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e Qualificação (Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e Qualificação, em Português). Não "orientação parental" ratings são utilizados. É interessante notar que este sistema de avaliação também é utilizado para a televisão.

O DJCTQ usa o seguinte sistema:

ER Especialmente recomendado para Crianças e Adolescentes (Especialmente Recomendado para Crianças e Adolescentes): Esta classificação significa que o filme é especialmente aconselhado para crianças e adolescentes. Contém material educativo, e não tem qualquer conteúdo impróprio.

L Livre para Todos os Públicos (Audiências Gerais): Esta classificação significa que os filmes podem ser vistos por qualquer pessoa, e não tem qualquer conteúdo impróprio.

10 Não Recomendando para Menores de 10 Anos (não recomendado para Leitores com menos de 10 anos): Este filme é recomendado para pessoas com 10 ou mais anos de idade. Pode conter pouca linguagem inapropriada, insinuações sexuais, violência ou leve.

12 Não recomendado para Menores de 12 Anos (não recomendado para Leitores aos 12 anos de idade): Este filme é recomendado para pessoas com 12 ou mais anos de idade. Pode conter pouca linguagem inapropriada, insinuações sexuais, violência ou leve.

14 Não recomendado para Menores de 14 anos (não recomendado para Leitores menores de 14 anos): Este filme é recomendado para pessoas com ou acima de 14 anos de idade. Pode conter linguagem imprópria, insinuações sexuais e / ou leve, sem sexo ou nudez explícita o ato a ser mostrado, a violência, a menção ao uso de drogas.

16 Não recomendado para Menores de 16 anos (não recomendado para Leitores menores de 16 anos): Este filme é recomendado para pessoas com ou mais de 16 anos de idade. Pode conter linguagem forte, insinuações sexuais e / ou leve sexo com / sem leve nudez, violência forte, o uso de drogas.

18 Não recomendado para Menores de 18 anos (não recomendado para Leitores de 18 anos de idade): Este filme é proibido para pessoas com menos de 18 anos. Pode conter linguagem forte, sexo intenso, forte nudez, violência forte, intenso consumo de drogas. Ele também é usado para classificar filmes pornôs.

E: Esta classificação significa que o filme podem ser vistos por qualquer pessoa, e não tem qualquer conteúdo impróprio. As pessoas sob a idade mínima indicada pela classificação poderá assistir ao filme acompanhado de seus pais, com exceção de filmes pornográficos. Os filmes são classificados por avaliadores treinados e mais recentemente, o DJCTQ faz sondagens para ver se a gente concorda ou não com a classificação indicada para um filme específico. Não "orientação parental" ratings são utilizados.


Българската система за категоризация на филми, е определен в Закона за филмовата индустрия (или акт) на 2003 година. Националната комисия за категоризация на филми разглежда всеки филм, който ще се разпространява в страната и го дава на клиентите. На практика, рейтинги рядко се показва на плакати и филмови реклами, но почти всички DVD-та са ги на задния капак.

A: Препоръчително за деца

Б: Няма възрастови ограничения

С: Не се препоръчва за деца под 12-годишна възраст.

Д: Няма хора под 16-годишна възраст са допуснати.

X: Няма хора на възраст под 18 са приети.


Преди 2003 имаше друг рейтинг система, която е много подобна на сегашната един (една и съща буква рейтинга са използвани, но по смисъла на повечето букви беше различно, защото например "Б" каза, "не се препоръчва за лица под 12-годишна възраст" ).

На практика, рейтинг "Б" се дава на най-известните американски филми, дори ако те получат една по-рестриктивна в други страни.

През 2007 г., след няколко промени в закона бяха направени, ефектът от които най-вероятно няма да бъдат големи, за клиентите на системата, но един филм на клиентите може да се промени. Тези промени са в сила от 1 януари 2008.


Movie ratings in Canada are mostly a provincial responsibility, and each province will have its own legislation regarding exhibition and admission. This is the only country in the world with provincial ratings.

Outside Quebec

In the past there were a wide range of rating categories and practices in the various provinces. However, the five rating systems outside Quebec now all use categories and logos derived from the Canadian Home Video Rating System. In general, the categories are:

  • G - General Audience - Suitable for all ages.
  • PG - Parental Guidance - Parental guidance advised. There is no age restriction but some material may not be suitable for all children.
  • 14A - 14 Accompaniment - Children under 14 years of age must be accompanied by a person over the age of 14.
  • 18A - 18 Accompaniment - Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. In the Maritimes, under 14s are prohibited from viewing the film.
  • R - Restricted - Admittance restricted to people 18 years of age or older.
  • A - Adult - Admittance restricted to people 18 years of age or older. Sole purpose of the film is the portrayal of sexually explicit activity and/or explicit violence.
  • E - Exempt - Exempt from classification. This rating is usually given to educational movies.

Québec système

In Québec à la Régie du Cinéma taux films et de vidéos.

  • G. (Visa général) - Mai être vus, loués ou achetés par des personnes de tous âges.
  • 13+. (13 ans+) - Mai être vus, loués ou achetés par les enfants de 13 ans ou plus. Enfants de moins de 12 ans et de moins mai être admis à un public du film, mais seulement s'ils sont accompagnés d'un adulte âgé de 16 ans ou plus.
  • 16+. (16 ans+) - Mai être vus, loués ou achetés par les enfants de 16 ans ou plus.
  • 18+. (18 ans+) - Mai être vus, loués ou achetés par des personnes de 18 ans ou plus.
  • E - Exempt.


The Council of Cinematographic Classification (Consejo de Calificación Cinematográfica) uses the following system:

  • TE (Todo Espectador) - For all audiences.
  • 14 - Inappropriate for children under 14.
  • 18 - Suitable for people aged 18 and over. Children under 18 may be accompanied by a parent or guardian over 18.
  • E - Exempt. For all persons, regardless of age. Subcategories
  • 18/S - Suitable for people aged 18 and over with sexually explicit content. This indication signifies that the film essentially contains scenes of real and explicit sexual activity. Replaces the old X rating.
  • 18/V - Suitable for people aged 18 and over with extreme violence

People's Republic of China

The first film rating system of the People's Republic of China was expected to come out in 2005 as a part of the Motion Picture Industry Promotion Law (). However, the National People's Congress has not passed such a law.


As of June 22, 2005, the Ministry of Culture issued its new rating system. The classifications are:

  • T: for general audiences. The T means "Todos", meaning "all."
  • 7: for movies suitable for children aged 7 and above.
  • 12: for movies suitable for children aged 12 and above.
  • 15: for movies suitable for children aged 15 and above.
  • 18: for movies suitable for people aged 18 and above.
  • X: for pornography.
  • Banned: for movies "containing elements inciting to crime or making a concrete endorsement of it."
  • E: Exempt.

Czech Republic

  • U - Suitable for all audiences
  • 12 - Suitable for children over 12
  • 15 - Suitable for children over 15
  • 18 - Suitable for viewers over 18
  • E - Exempt


The Media Council for Children and Young People uses the following classifications.

  • A Approval of the film for general admittance.
  • 7 Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children under the age of 7.
  • 11 Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11.
  • 15 Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15.
  • E: Exempt.

Children who have turned 7 are allowed admission to all films if accompanied by an adult (a person turned 18). Consequently it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their children do not watch violent and hard-core pornographic films.

Films accessible to the public do not have to be classified by the Media Council but consequently must be labeled as 15 -Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15 – no matter the content of the film.


The Egyptian government has only three movie classifications:

  • General Audience Everyone is admitted.
  • Adults Only Restricted to audiences 18 and above.
  • Exempt from Classification

Usually excessive violence, nudity, and sexuality is cut from motion pictures in order to release with a General audience certificate.


  • Pere - Family film
  • L - For All Audiences
  • MS-6 - Under 6 Not Recommended
  • MS-12 - Under 12 Not Recommended
  • K-12 - Under 12 Not Allowed
  • K-14 - Under 14 Not Allowed
  • K-16 - Under 16 Not Allowed
  • K-6 - Under 6 Not Allowed. Commonly known as K-E


The Finnish Board of Film Classification has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • K-3 - For all ages
  • K-7 - Only for persons over 7 years
  • K-11 - Only for persons over 11 years
  • K-13 - Only for persons over 13 years
  • K-15 - Only for persons over 15 years
  • K-18 - Only for persons over 18 years
  • K-E - Exempt

A person two years younger than the given rating is permitted to see a film in a movie theater when accompanied by an adult. This rule does not apply to the 18 rating.

Only material intended to be accessible to minors (those below 18 years of age) is subject to mandatory inspection. A proper notification is sufficient for adult material. However, the board has the right to inspect material suspected of violating laws or material which was not properly notified.


Prior to showing in theaters, a license (visa d'exploitation) must be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. Upon the advice of the commission pertaining to cinema movies, the minister decides either not to grant the license (a very rare occurrence), or to grant a license among the 4 following:

  • U (Tous publics) valid for all audiences;
  • -12 (Interdit aux moins de 12 ans) unsuitable for children under 12 or forbidden in cinemas for under 12s;
  • -16 (Interdit aux moins de 16 ans) unsuitable for children under 16 or forbidden in cinemas for under 16s;
  • -18 (Interdit aux mineurs) unsuitable for children under 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18s.
  • -E exempt

Each rating can be accompanied by a special "warning". In practice, the ministry always follows the decision of the commission.

In addition, the movie may be considered "pornographic or inciting to violence" (colloquially referred to as "X-rated"). In this case, it bears high taxation and may be showed only in specific theatres, which are now few in France. This classification is not used for merely violent movies, or movies containing mere erotic scenes.

Classifications, as all administrative decisions, may be appealed before the courts (Conseil d'État at litigation).

Related link: (in French)


The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry, FSK) has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • Ohne Altersbeschränkung (FSK 0): no age restriction
  • Freigegeben ab 6 Jahren (FSK 6): no children under 6 years admitted
  • Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren (FSK 12): children 12 or older admitted, children between 6 and 11 only when accompanied by parent or legal guardian
  • Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren (FSK 16): children 16 or older admitted
  • Keine Jugendfreigabe (FSK 18): "no youth admitted", only adults. May also be referred to as FSK 18. This rating was previously called "Nicht freigegeben unter 18 Jahren."
  • FSK E: Exempt
  • Infoprogramm or Lehrprogramm: "educational program". This rating is not issued by the FSK, but may be self-applied to films seeking to educate their audience (e.g. documentaries, instructional films, etc.), provided they do not contain any material "evidently harmful to the development of children and youths".. Films with this rating may be sold without any age restriction.

All the above ratings also contain the phrase "gemäß §14 JuSchG" (in accordance with §14 of the Youth Protection Law), signifying that they are legally binding, rather than being mere recommendations.

  • SPIO/JK: This certificate, issued by the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft (Head Organisation of the Film Industry, SPIO), attests that, in the eyes of the SPIO, a particular film does not violate German law, such as the ban on "glorification of violence." However, films with such a certificate may still be banned and are frequently put on the "Index." The certificate simply protects the producer/seller of a film that later gets banned from prosecution, as he or she can claim that they had reason to believe the film did not, in fact, violate any laws. Since films with this certificate are not rated by the FSK, they may be sold only to persons aged 18 or older.

Furthermore, while a rating by the FSK is not legally required for a film to be sold, "unrated" films may be sold only to adults, and since most retail chains and virtually all cinemas will sell/show only films with an FSK rating, all films are normally submitted to the FSK for classification, with the exception of films that will most likely be refused a certificate (pornography or films containing extremely strong violence, for example).

After a title has received a rating for a cinematic release, the FSK must approve this rating again for a home entertainment release. Some titles therefore have different FSK certificates for the cinematic release and for the DVD release.

After 10 years, films may be resubmitted to the FSK for re-rating. Older films which have gained a FSK 18 certificate during the '50s or '60s often gain a much lower certificate now, due to a more liberal approach the FSK now takes in issuing ratings. However, due to the cost involved in resubmitting a film, it is common practice to keep the old certificate for the cinematic release and only submit bonus materials or extended scenes for classification. This leads to the seemingly paradoxical result of extended, and more violent versions of previously-rated films gaining a lower certificate than the "tamer" version.

Further to the above restrictions, it is also illegal to supply a film with an FSK 18, Keine Jugendfreigabe or SPIO/JK certificate, including those not on the index, without definitive means to supply proof of age. This severely limits distribution of films with these certificates, and thus it is extremely common for distributors to supply a cut version with a lower certificate so that the film can be distributed by mail order or Internet.

Almost all major online distributors have declined to distribute FSK 18 or Keine Jugendfreigabe films due to the legal difficulties in the past. Shopping Centres, Malls and Amazon Germany have started selling films with this certificate since 2002. Amazon Germany started selling films with this certification in November 2006. Many smaller online retailers provide an FSK 18 section which may be accessed only by sending a scanned copy of the buyer's identification card or providing the ID card's number (which includes the date of birth encrypted). The legality of this practice, however, is as yet untested. In September 2006, became the first major retailer to provide FSK 18 rated films, by making use of an ID checking service offered by the German postal service.


  • K - Suitable film for everyone, including children. The film does not contain violence, drugs or pornography.
  • K-13 - Suitable film for children over the age of 13. The film may contain a little violence and dramatic situations.
  • K-17 - Suitable film for children over the age of 17. The film may contain violence, drugs and a little porn. An ID card certifying the age is required in all Greek cinemas and DVD rental shops in order to get a cinema ticket or rent a DVD of a "K-17" rated film.
  • E - Exempt

Hong Kong

An official government agency issues ratings for any movie that will be shown in Hong Kong movie theatres, instead of a private institution. They are:

  • I — suitable for all ages
  • IIA — some content is unsuitable for children; parental guidance suggested
  • IIB — some content is unsuitable for children and young persons; parental guidance suggested
  • III — for persons aged 18 and above only
  • IV — exempt


  • 6 - Commonly known as E
  • 12 - parental guidance suggested for children under 12.
  • 16 - not suitable for children under 16.
  • 18 - not suitable for people under 18.


Kvikmyndaeftirlit Ríkisins was started in 1932 and ran until 1997. That year the name changed into Kvikmyndaskoðun and ran until 2006. Since 1997 the board does not edit movies. The old rating system from Kvikmyndaeftirlit Ríkisins and Kvikmyndaskoðun is still valid and is as follows:

  • L: Suitable for all
  • LH: Not suitable for very young viewers (video only) replaced by 7
  • 10: Passed only for children 10 and over (theatrical only) replaced by 7
  • 12: Passed only for children 12 and over
  • 14: Passed only for children 14 and over (theatrical only)
  • 16: Passed only for children 16 and over
  • AB: Banned (1932 - 1997) replaced by 18

From July 1, 2006 Kvikmyndaskoðun was closed and Smáís has taken over the responsibility of rating systems in Iceland. Simultaneously, a new rating system started and is as following:

  • L: Suitable for all
  • 7: Passed only for 7 and over
  • 12: Passed only for 12 and over
  • 14: Passed only for 14 and over
  • 16: Passed only for 16 and over
  • 18: Passed only for 18 and over

Just like Kvikmyndaskoðun, Smáís doesn't ban movies or edit them.


In India, the Indian Film Censor Board classifies films into four categories:

  • U — Universal: Suitable for all ages
  • U/A — Universal with adult/parent guidance. Some material may be unsuitable for children under 12.
  • A — Adult: Can be viewed only by those above 18
  • S — Special: A very rare designation for special cases


Motion pictures shown in Indonesia must undergo reviewing by the Indonesian Film Censor Board (Lembaga Sensor Film) Other than issuing certificates, the LSF also reviews and issues permits for film-related advertising, such as movie trailers and posters. LSF has the authority to cut scenes from films. Certificates are issued based on the following categories:

  • SU - 'Semua Umur' - All/General
  • A - 'Anak-anak' - Children
  • BO - 'Bimbingan Orangtua' - Parental Guidance
  • R - 'Remaja' - Teen
  • D - 'Dewasa' - Mature


The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) under which theatrical films are placed into one of the following categories:

  • G - 'General' - Suitable for viewing by anyone.
  • PG - 'Parental Guidance' - Parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12.
  • 12A - 'Parent supervision required for children under 12' - A person over 18 years of age must accompany a child under the age of 12 when seeing a film theatrically. This is very similar to the 12A certificate that the BBFC introduced in August 2002.
  • 15A - 'Parent supervision required for children under 15' - A much stronger warning that, although the film may be unsuitable for a child under the age of 15 watching alone, a child with an adult may be admitted to the film's screening.
  • 16 - Films classified in this category are considered to be suitable for persons of sixteen or over. Children under this age cannot be admitted to screenings. Violent content, crude and sexual content, and depiction of violence may be stronger than in films designated 15A. This certificate was made after a 15A rating was given to Bad Santa.
  • 18 - 'Adults only' - The film is suitable only for adults. A person under this age will not be admitted. 9 Songs in October 2004 became the first film featuring explicit sex scenes to receive a certificate.

Films without certification are not ipso facto banned and have been shown at film festivals and arthouse clubs such as the Irish Film Institute.

For video releases (VHS and DVD), categories G, PG and 18 share the same meanings as above, however, there is no 16, and categories 12 and 15 are mandatory, not advisory.


  • T: All ages admitted, but in some cases parent supervision is strongly suggested. Some movies with strong violence and/or sexual content (including nudity and depiction of sex, though not explicit) come with this rating too.
  • VM14: Nobody under the age of 14 allowed. The movie is likely to contain either strong sexual content or very strong violence.
  • VM16: defunct. Nobody under the age of 16 allowed.
  • VM18: Nobody under the age of 18 allowed. Pornographic/explicit depiction of sex and/or extreme violence and gore.

In addition, televisions in Italy have adopted a common "Self-Reglementation Code" that requires them to mark contents not suitable for all audiences: generally movies, prime-time broadcasts and TV shows are labeled with a green mark if them are suitable for all audiences; with a yellow mark if parent supervision is suggested for children view; and with a red mark if their content is not suitable for children. Generally broadcasts featuring the red mark have strong graphic contents, ranging from violence to nudity and mild-to-medium sexual contents (pornographic broadcasts are forbidden on open-channel TVs and allowed only on satellite, DTT or otherwise pay-per-view channels, and only after 23:00 hours). TV channels also respect a "Protected Time Schedule" (14:00 to 19:00) similar to the old Family Viewing Hour used in the United States, when children or otherwise underage audience is more likely to be watching, when non-suitable contents are not to be broadcast.


Eirin has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories:

  • G: General Audiences, all ages admitted.
  • PG-12: Some material may be inappropriate for children under the age of 12. Parental or adult accompaniment recommended.
  • R-15: No children under 15 admitted. The film contains adult themes, nudity, strong language, violence, and/or sex, etc. which is inappropriate for people under 15.
  • R-18: No children under 18 admitted. The film contains adult themes, detailed violence, explicit sex, sexual violence, pornographic content, hentai, and/or drug use, etc. which are unsuitable for people under 18.


In Latvia, the film presenters added classification is the same as the one applied by the producers of the film. However, this could change from 2008, because in July 2007 the government of Latvia made a law that indicates a more strict classification policy. The classifications are approved by the National Cinema Center(Latvian: Nacionālais Kino Centrs). There is a new 'refreshed' rating system from July 2007. (The following classifications will operate as of September 2007)

  • V: rated for all ages (added in July 2007).
  • VP-10: parent accompaniment needed for children under 10. Films that have sarcasm and scenes of insultment.
  • VP-12: parent accompaniment needed for children under 12. Films, that have a small amount of foul language, fighting scenes and violence.
  • N-12: Not recommended until 12.
  • N-14: Not recommended until 14. Contains politics, problems of society, average horror, small amount of foul language and violence.
  • N-16: Not recommended until 16. Contains a variety of scenes with foul language, violence, fights, horror, mystics and explicit content.
  • N-18: Not recommended until 18. The film contains adult themes, detailed violence, explicit sex, sexual violence, pornographic content, hentai, and/or drug use, etc. which are unsuitable for people under 18.

Note: 'N' states for 'not recommended'.

  • A-(age): Strictly forbidden for children younger than the indicated age. Used very rarely.


According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, all films in Malaysia are scrutinised and then categorised by the Film Censorship Board Film Control Division before being distributed and screened to the public. The board was established under the Film Censorship Act 1952 and was later replaced by the Film Censorship Act 2002 In accordance to this act, the Film Censorship Board is appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs. A panel is then appointed by the chairman of the board to view each film.

The decisions made by the board on any film are categorised as follows:

  • Approved without alteration
  • Approved with alteration
  • Not approved

Approved films are classified as follows:

  • U (Umum) - For general audiences of all ages. Film does not contain elements of violence, horror and sex that are not excessive or that include religious, social or political aspects.

Since 2008 a new category which mirrors the US PG-13 rating was introduced as a subset of the Umum rating. The rating advises parents to view the flim with their pre-teen children and is known as U - PG-13.

  • 18SG (Seram, Ganas) - For audiences aged 18 or over only. Film contains elements of violence and horror that are not excessive.
  • 18SX (Seks) - For audiences aged 18 or over only. Film contains elements of sex that are not excessive.
  • 18PA (Politik, Agama) - For audiences aged 18 or over only. Film contains elements which include religious, social or political aspects.
  • 18PL (Pelbagai) - For audiences aged 18 or over only. Film contains a combination of two or more elements of violence, horror and sex that are not excessive or that include religious, social or political aspects.


With the formation of National Bureau of Classification on December 29, 2005, a new classification regulation and a new rating system for movies were introduced. A classification certificate must be obtained first, before a movie or a movie-related production is released for commercial use including its trailers. NBC has the authority to cut scenes from movies. Classification certificates issued are based on the following categories:

  • G - General viewing. No material that may evoke fear or concern, no violence, no sexual acts, no language, no drug abuse, no nudity.
  • PG - Parental Guidance. No material that may evoke fear or concern, no violence, no sexual acts, no language, no drug abuse, no nudity. However, viewing films of this category requires parental guidance.
  • 12+ - For viewers aged 12 and above. Slightly violent scenes, no sexual acts, infrequent harsh language, drug abuse in productions that target this age group.
  • 15+ - For viewers aged 15 and above. Moderate violence, no sexual acts, some harsh language, drug abuse.
  • 18+ - For viewers aged 18 and above. High violence, sexual scenes, harsh language, strong drug abuse, veiled nudity.
  • 18+R - 18+ and Restricted. High violence, sexual scenes, harsh language, strong drug abuse, veiled nudity. Contents of this category may be inappropriate for some individuals.
  • PU - Released for PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY and is not classified for commercial use. Under this Category Violence, sexual scenes, harsh language and offensive words, nudity may be released for educational, artistic, and intellectual purposes.

Graphic sex scenes are not permitted.


In Malta, All motion pictures are classified by the Government appointed Board of Film and Stage Cassification. The renting and selling of videos and DVDs is unrestricted.

  • U (Universal) Suitable for all.
  • PG (Parental Guidance) Some material may not be suitable for young children. Children under the age of 12 are to be accompanied by an adult.
  • 12 Suitable only for persons 12 years and over. No one under the age of 12 is admitted.
  • 14 Suitable only for persons 14 years and over. No one under the age of 14 is admitted.
  • 16 Suitable only for persons 16 years and over. No one under the age of 16 is admitted.
  • 18 Suitable only for persons 18 years and over. No one under the age of 18 is admitted.


The General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography (in Spanish, Dirección General de Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía, or RTC ) is the issuer of ratings for television programs (although only one channel in Mexico explicitly shows the classification on each program, XEIMT-TV in Mexico City) and motion pictures. The RTC is a dependency of the Department of State (Secretaría de Gobernación). It has its own classification system, as follows:

  • AA Informative-only rating: Specially suited for the interests of children under 7. No (or minimum) violence, no drug nor sexual content (may include affective and friendly scenes) under this rating. (e.g., cartoons).
  • A Informative-only rating: General Audience. Suited for persons ages 7-11. Minimum or no violence, sexual or drug use content.
  • B Informative-only rating: For children 12 or over. Parental guidance suggested. Minimum and specifically motivated non extreme violence, may contain suggestive sexual conducts, but non-explicit content. Nudity might be present, but not in an erotic or degrading way. Drug use is present, but not during consumption. And drugs are treated with negative consequences. Dirty language might be present, but not extreme verbal violence.
  • B-15 Informative-only rating: For children 15 or over. More explicit content than B rating, but no extreme violence, explicit sexual and drug conducts, and non extreme verbal violence. Drug use must is not be propitiated.
  • C Restrictive rating: For adults over 18. High degree of violence (including cruelty), explicit sex, drug use and addictive content. Language is needed for the narrative purposes.
  • D Restrictive rating: Adult-only movies. Commonly known as X-rated. Most or unique content is: explicit sex, profanity or high degree of violence.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the Kijkwijzer system is used, which is executed by the NICAM.


  • AL Suitable for all ages (in Dutch: Alle Leeftijden).
  • 6 Not recommended for children younger than 6 years. Replaced the older MG6, where parental guidance was recommended for viewers younger than 6 years.
  • 9 Not recommended for children younger than 9 years. Currently a non-standard rating, expected to become a standard rating in the course of 2008. First used for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because of very frightening elements. Also used for De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe.
  • 12 Not recommended for children younger than 12 years; broadcasting is not allowed before 20:00.


  • 16 Not recommended for children younger than 16 years; hence, according to Wetboek van Strafrecht art. 240A, it is forbidden to admit such a person to a screening, or rent out, sell, or give the movie (DVD, video, computer file, etc.) to such a person; broadcasting is not allowed before 22:00.

Mostly, these icons are used along with other symbols, displaying if a movie contains violence, sexual content, frightening scenes, drug or alcohol abuse, discrimination, or coarse language.

New Zealand

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 Act gives the Office of Film and Literature Classification (New Zealand) the power to classify publications into three categories: unrestricted, restricted, and "objectionable" or banned. Unrestricted films are assigned a green or yellow rating label. Restricted films are assigned a red classification label. The common labels in each category are as follows:

Unrestricted films:

  • E Exempt from classification (Normally only given to documentaries)
  • G Suitable for all.
  • PG Parental guidance recommended for young children.
  • M13 Suitable for children 13 or over, although young children can go and see it. This rating is not used anymore, although some older films still have that rating.
  • M Mature; Suitable for children 16 years or older, although children younger can view it.

Restricted films:

  • R13 Restricted to children 13 or over.
  • R15 Restricted to children 15 or over.
  • R16 Restricted to children 16 or over. Different to the M.
  • R18 Restricted to 18 or Over.
  • RP16 Restricted to children 16 or over unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • R Restricted to people 16 years or over. The only exception is where the underage patron has parental consent to view the movie.

Apart from the R rating, patron movies are not allowed to view restricted movies - even with parental consent.

All films, videos, DVDs, and computer games with restricted content, must carry a label before being offered for supply or exhibited to the public.

Some films like Irréversible are banned on video but not banned for cinema or film festivals.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification's homepage:


The National Film and Video Censors Board classifies films, videos, DVDs, and VCDs. The categories are:

  • G General admittance.
  • PG Parental Guidance suggested.
  • 12 Suitable for children aged 12 years and over.
  • 12A Same as 12, but younger children can be admitted if accompanied.
  • 15 Suitable for children aged 15 years and over.
  • 18 Suitable for people aged 18 years and over.
  • RE Restricted Exhibition: can be shown only subject to certain restrictions.


In Norway all movies have to be registered by the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet, formerly Filmtilsynet), a government agency, to be exhibited commercially. Though if distributors wish, they can just register the movie with the agency without any need for approval, but the distributor is then obligated not to admit anyone under the age of 18. The distributor is also responsible that the movie does not violate Norwegian law (only applies to movies with "degrading hardcore sexual content").

Movies are rated using the following classifications:

  • A (all ages)
  • 7
  • 11
  • 15
  • 18

Films rated 7, 11 or 15 may also be seen by children accompanied by a parent or adult guardian if the child has turned 4, 8 or 11 years, respectively. In addition to the ratings, the board indicates if a movie is suitable for children, families, youths or adults. A film may be given a rating even though it is intended for an older age group, e.g. an "A" film might be intended for adults if it does not contain material unsuitable for young children.

The board also indicates if a rating is "hard". A "hard" 11/15 rating is usually indicated by the text "not advised for children/youths under 11/15" ("frarådes barn/ungdom under 11/15 år"), however this does not affect if children under the given age are allowed to see the film if accompanied. In 2000 a Board of Appeal was established. Prior to this the ratings board could choose to reclassify a film.

Movie ratings database: List of Norwegian ratings:


  • PT General Ages. All ages admitted.
  • PG Parental Guidance is needed.
  • 14 Violence and language. No Children under 14 admitted without an adult.
  • 18 Extreme graphic violence, strong language, or drug abuse, or pornography films. No Children under 18 allowed without the company of an adult.


In the Philippines, motion pictures are rated by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, a special agency of the Office of the President. Television programs are also subject to the same ratings classification system.

There are five ratings currently in use:

  • G(P) - General patronage
  • PG-13 - Parental guidance for children under 13
  • R (deprecated) - Strictly for persons over 17 (until early 2000s when the rating was split into two brackets)
    • R-13 - Strictly for children over 13
    • R-18 - Strictly for persons over 18
  • X - Not for public viewing


Ratings in Poland are not set by any board or advisory body, but it rather depends on distribution company, cinema or television station. In case of television, the supervisory body - Krajowa Rada Radiofonii i Telewizji (KRRiT, The National Council of Radio Broadcasting and Television) can impose fines upon those responsible for improper rating of a broadcast, or lack of it.

  • Rating for movies shown in cinemas:
    • BO (Bez ograniczeń) - Suitable for everyone
    • 6 - Suitable for children 6 years and over (this rating is not considered 'official', and it's used by some cinemas. Other variations include '7', '8', '9' or '10')
    • 12 - Suitable for children 12 years and over
    • 15 - Suitable for children 15 years and over
    • 18 - Only for adults
    • 21 - Only for adults, contains graphic and "unnecessary" violence; only a few movies have been rated 21 (namely Irréversible, Le Dobermann and Baise-Moi)
  • Ratings for programmes and movies shown on television:
    • Green circle - for everyone
    • Yellow triangle - age intimate in triangle (7,12,16)
    • Red circle - for adults (18 years)


Movies are rated in Portugal by the Comissão de Classificação de Espectáculos of the Ministry of Culture. This organization also rates theater, video games, other types of shows like circus, music concerts, opera and dance shows. It is also responsible for the rating of video releases.

Movies are rated using the following classifications:

  • M/4 For children of age 4 and above. Content with this rating should be of short duration and easy to understand and it should not provoke fear and/or collide with the sense of fantasy of this age.
  • M/6 For children of age 6 and above.
  • M/12 For children of age 12 and above. This rating is for content that due to its length and complexity, can provoke in younger viewers fatigue and psychiatric trauma. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult.
  • M/16 For children of age 16 and above. This rating is for content that explores, in excessive terms, aspects of sexuality, physical and psychic violence. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult.
  • M/18 For persons of age 18 and above. This rating is for content of explicit sexual nature and/or that explores pathological forms of physical and psychic violence. Younger viewers must be accompanied by an adult, although if they are too young, the person responsible for admission into movie theaters can deny entrance.

Special classifications

These classifications can be added to the previous ones:

  • Pornographic (M/18-P) Generic characteristics: content is considered pornographic if it contains: a) exploitation of situations to try to arouse the spectator; b) low aesthetic quality. Specific characteristics: the first level (hardcore: content that presents a very thorough demonstration of real sexual acts being perpetrated, with the exhibition of genitalia); the second level (softcore: content that presents a very insistent and thorough demonstration of simulated sexual acts).
  • Quality (M/4-Q, M/6-Q, M/12-Q, M/16-Q, M/18-Q) Content that, due to its artistic, thematic, educational and technical aspects deserve this attribute.


National Audiovisual Council of Romania rating system:

  • A.G. Audienţă generală. (General audience.)
  • A.P.-12 Acordul părinţilor pentru copiii sub 12 ani. (Parental advisory under the age of 12.)
  • N.-15 Nerecomandat copiilor sub 15 ani. (Not recommended for children under 15 years of age.)
  • I.M.-18 Interzis minorilor sub 18 ani. (Forbidden under 18 years of age.)
  • I.M.-18XXX Interzis minorilor şi proiecţiei cu public. (Not for children under 18 years of age and to public projection.)
  • IC Cu interdictie de comunicare. (Not for communication)


In Serbia, TV stations are obliged to mark all programs that could endanger children and youth. TV programs that could endanger minors in any way must be clearly marked, and the custodians warned. Each program displayed before midnight, has to be marked with a clearly visible age limit (eg. 12, 14, 16, 18) which warns the parents and other audience if it program is not suitable for all minors. It is displayed at the beginning (usually in a big red circle across the screen) and each 15 minutes (on a visible location, usually in a corner) of the show. On radio, this warning is presented by the speaker.

All broadcasters have the right to classify programs on their own, but the Serbian Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA) reserves its right to punish or warn the stations if they don't mark the programs at all, don't mark it as described or systematically estimate age categories wrongly. The broadcasters have the right to ask the agency's opinion in certain show if they are not capable of recognizing its category. They are also advised to take care of the usual children schedule and to avoid problematic material in time when it could be easily expected that minors are watching or listening the program.


The Media Development Authority revised the film ratings in Singapore on March 29 2004:

  • G General
  • PG Parental Guidance
  • NC16 No children under 16 admitted - For persons 16 years and above ONLY (Note: The NC-16 rating was issued with the release of Saving Private Ryan, which couldn't be passed as a PG film due to the violence present in the film, but lacked an adult theme to be rated R(A))
  • M18 Mature 18, for persons 18 years and above
  • R18 Restricted 18, for persons 18 years and above (Note: only for cabaret shows to date such as the Crazy Horse)
  • R21 Restricted 21, for persons 21 years and above

G and PG generally has no restrictions on age and most audiences are admitted. Regulation on the presence of adults for PG rated shows are advised but not strictly enforced.

NC16, M18 and R21 groups are restricted to only persons of the specified age or above of the particular group. No persons under the specified age would be admitted as identity cards have to be checked before the person is allowed to enter the cinema.

Note: If a movie is rated R21, it is banned from DVD or VCD sales.

South Africa

South African ratings are issued, certified and regulated by the Film and Publication Board. All broadcasters, cinemas and distributors of DVD/video and computer games must comply with the following:

  • A - This is a program that does not contain any obscenity, and is suitable for family viewing.
  • PG - Parental guidance recommended for younger children. Low impact classifiable elements.
  • 10M - Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • 10 - Viewers must be 10 or older.
  • 13 - Children under the age of 13 are prohibited from watching this film. This program contains mild language, violence and sexual innuendo.
  • 16 - Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from watching this film. It contains moderate violence, language, and some sexual situations.
  • R18 - Children under the age of 18 are prohibited from watching this film. It contains extreme violence, language and/or graphic sexual content. The R18 rating does not refer to pornography, as this is banned on television and cinema by the Film and Publication Board.
  • X18 - this is reserved for films of an extreme sexual nature (pornography). X18 films may be distributed only in the form of video/DVD and in a controlled environment (eg. Adult Shops). No public viewing of this film may take place. X18 films may not be broadcast on television or in cinemas. The X18 rating does not refer to child or animal pornography, as this is illegal in South Africa.

Additional symbols indicate the reasons for ratings:

  • Violence
  • Nudity
  • Sex
  • Language
  • Prejudice

Films rated 16 and 18 may be showed only in cinemas between 21:00 - 23:59, or 0:00.

If a member of the public or a Film and Publication Board Official finds that a Cinema or a Film Distributor is allowing under-aged children to view prohibited material, the accused may be liable for a hefty fine and/or closure of that specific establishment. Proof of age is required of anybody who wants to buy/rent R18 material.

The Film and Publication Board has the discretion and right to ban any film it deems unworthy of public exhibition.

South Korea

  • All - Suitable for all audiences
  • 12 - Suitable for children 12 and over (Parental supervision recommended)
  • 15 - Suitable for children 15 and over
  • 18 - Suitable for people 18 and over
  • Limited - No one admitted under 19 years of age (including high school students); exhibition restricted to 'Limited Theaters' only. Advertisements on TV and in newspapers, plus video, VCD or DVD releases and broadcasts are prohibited. This classification was introduced in 2002.


Attitudes toward film censorship in Spain are unusual due to the adverse affect of dictatorship and heavy censorship until 1975 under General Francisco Franco. Therefore, most Spanish citizens are against censorship of any kind and prefer personal responsibility and liberalism, thus very few people show serious respect for certification of films. For example, cinemas in Spain never ask for identification.

  • All - Suitable for all audiences
  • Especialmente Recomendada para la Infancia - Especially suitable for small children
  • 7 - Suitable for audiences 7 and over
  • 13 - Suitable for audiences 13 and over
  • 18 - Suitable for audiences 18 and over
  • Película X - Pornographic movie


Statens biografbyrå (SBB) (the Swedish National Board of Film Censors) reviews the content of all films or pre-recorded video recordings (videograms) prior to showing at a public gathering or entertainment (subject to some exceptions), in accordance with law SFS 1990:886. This means that films not intended for public viewing do not have to be screened; however, this is the practice: when a film is let through, is rated and not prohibited, it can not be considered to violate any laws regarding its content. It is a criminal offense to hire or sell videos containing unlawful depictions of violence, thus meaning that the distributor could be held responsible for the content of a film if unrated or prohibited. It is illegal also to rent or sell videos depicting realistic violence to children below the age of 14.

The censors, scientific professionals in the field of behavioural sciences, are contracted for a term of two years (so that they do not become habitated) and rate films so that they are not harmful in any psychological or behavioral sense for a certain age group - and not if the film is suitable for the age group. Sexual activity, nudity, and strong language are generally seen far more liberally than violence, in accordance with the rating policies. Combined, this can have the effect that some PG or PG-13 rated films in USA are being rated "15 years" in Sweden for violence, while some films getting an R in USA for containing profanity or depictions of sexuality are rated at 7 or 11 years, or even for all audiences.

The following categories are used by the SBB:

  • Btl Barntillåten (Children allowed) Suitable for all ages.
  • 7 years 7 År is deemed non-harming for children of at least 7 years of age. Younger children are not admitted unless accompanied by an adult 18 or older, may include drug use.
  • 11 years 11 År is deemed non-harming for children of at least 11 years of age. Children of at least 7 years of age are admitted if accompanied by an adult 18 or older, may include mild drug use, mild depiction of sexual activity.
  • 15 years 15 År states that no one under 15 years of age is admitted, may include strong drug use, depiction of strong sexual activity. This also includes pornography; however, it is not shown at ordinary cinemas. There are common unofficial ratings used by television channels, rental shops and adult cinemas to hinder persons below the age of 18 years to be exposed to pornography, such as Barnförbjuden ("prohibited for minors"), 18 År ("18 years") and Vuxenfilm ("movies for adults").
  • Prohibited Förbjuden If considered to be brutalising, films can be banned from public display, these films include scenes of prolonged or intrusive graphic violence, or sexual violence and constraint. There is a possible gap between what the boards puts its prohibited stamp on and what's considered illegal due to its content, making some prohibited films possible to obtain for private use or to be seen by members of closed societies at cinemas.


Switzerland is composed of 26 cantons, each having their own rating system. The entries below are examples for the cantons of Vaud and Geneva.

  • 0 - Universal. Suitable for all
  • 7 - No one under the age of 7 admitted
  • 10 - No one under the age of 10 admitted
  • 12 - No one under the age of 12 admitted
  • 14 - No one under the age of 14 admitted
  • 16 - No one under the age of 16 admitted
  • 18 - No one under the age of 18 admitted


The Government Information OfficeinTaiwan divides licensed films into one of the following four categories pursuant to its issued Regulations Governing the Classification of Motion Pictures of the Republic of China (zh:電影片分級處理辦法 in traditional Chinese):

  • General audiences category (普遍級(普)) - General audiences may all view.
  • Protected category (保護級(護)) - Children under 6 years old must not view. Children aged at least 6 but less than 12 require guidance of accompanying parents, teachers, or adult relatives to view.
  • Parental guidance category (輔導級(輔)) - Children under 12 years old must not view. People aged at least 12 but less than 18 require attentive guidance of parents or teachers to view.
  • Restricted category (限制級(限)) - People under 18 years old must not view.

Film advertisements use a single Chinese character surrounded by a square to show the film's category.

Related and official link: Classifications of movies (in traditional Chinese)


As of 2007, Thailand had no ratings system. Instead, films are subject to the 1930 Film Act, under which films must viewed by the Board of Censors, which can then impose cuts on the films prior to release. The board is composed of members of the Royal Thai Police and the Ministry of Culture, with advisory roles for the Buddhist religion, educators and the medical community. Most cuts are made for sexual content, while acts of violence are typically left untouched.

A motion picture rating system was proposed in the Film and Video Act of 2007, and was passed on December 20, 2007 by the Thai military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. Under the law, the ratings are:

  • P - Promotional, film is educational and viewing is encouraged for all Thai people.
  • G - Suitable for general audiences.
  • Under 13 - Viewers under age 13 not admitted.
  • Under 15 - Viewers under age 15 not admitted.
  • Under 18 - Viewers under age 18 not admitted.
  • Under 20 - Viewers under age 20 not admitted.

The draft law had been met with resistance from the film industry and independent filmmakers under the Free Thai Cinema Movement. Activists had hoped for a less-restrictive approach than the 1930 Film Act, but under the Film and Video Act, films are still be subject to censorship, or can be banned from release altogether if the film is deemed to "undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or might impact national security or the pride of the nation".

As of 2007, a supplementary law or ministerial regulation to implement the rating system was yet to be drafted, and the 1930 Film Act remained in place.

Turks and Caicos Islands

The British colony of Turks and Caicos Islands has its own motion picture rating system.... Since its installation in 1934, its rules have not changed.

Symbol Name Definition/Notes
align="center" Universal Available to anyone who wishes to view the film
align="center" Universal with caution Similar to the "PG" rating, may contain some scenes that will upset children.
align="center" Seven or over The person must be over seven to view the film
align="center" Eleven or over The person must be over eleven to view the film
align="center" Thirteen or over The person must be over thirteen to view the film
align="center" Sixteen or over The person must be over sixteen to view the film
align="center" Sixteen with privilege The person must be over sixteen to view the film, and must be accompanied by a person over the age of 18
align="center" Eighteen The person must be over eighteen to view the film

United Kingdom

''Main articles: British Board of Film Classification, History of British Film Certificates

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rates both motion pictures and videos (and an increasing number of video games). Local authorities are responsible for accepting and enforcing the BBFC's recommended ratings for cinema showings, whereas those for videos are legally binding.

The current BBFC system is:

  • Uc (Universal : Children) Suitable for all. Videos classified 'Uc' are particularly suitable for pre-school children. (Video only)
  • U (Universal) Suitable for all. (The board state that while they cannot predict what might upset a particular child, a 'U' film should be suitable for audiences aged 4 and over)
  • 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.)
  • 12A (12 Accompanied/Advisory) Suitable for 12 years and over. No one younger than 12 may see a '12A' film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. (Exclusively for cinema, '12A' was first implemented on The Bourne Identity and, contrary to popular belief, not on Spider-Man, which was first released months before, under the previously fully restrictive 12 certificate, and then immediately re-released to take advantage of the new guidelines).
  • 12 Suitable for 12 years and over. No one younger than 12 may rent or buy a '12' rated video. (Until 31 August 2002, this mandatory certificate used to apply to cinema exhibitions as well)
  • 15 Suitable only for 15 years and over. No one younger than 15 may see a '15' film in a cinema. No one younger than 15 may rent or buy a '15' rated video.
  • 18 Suitable only for adults. No one younger than 18 may see an '18' film in a cinema. No one younger than 18 may rent or buy an '18' rated video.
  • R18 (Restricted 18) To be shown only in specially licensed cinemas, or supplied only in licensed sex shops, and to adults of not less than 18 years. (These films contain sexually explicit, pornographic content.)

Films may receive a different rating when released on DVD/video to that at the cinema. It is not unusual for certain films to be refused classification, effectively banning them from sale or exhibition in the UK. Any media which has been banned receives an 'R' certificate (Rejected).

Videos deemed by their distributors to be exempt under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (typically non-fiction content such as sporting highlights, fitness videos, nature films, etc.) may bear the mark E (for exempt), though this is not a rating and the BBFC does not maintain a symbol. The BBFC also rates video games that require a certificate due to mature content. However, the majority of games are merely rated by the voluntary PEGI rating system, that replaced the ELSPA rating system. It is not uncommon for violent video games to be banned by the BBFC.

United States

Prior to 1968, some large cities and states had public rating boards which determined whether films were suitable for display to the public in theatres. The United States Supreme Court in the case of Freedman v. Maryland 380 U.S. 51 (1965) would effectively end government operated rating boards when it would decide that a rating board could only approve a film; it had no power to ban a film. A rating board must either approve a film within a reasonable time, or it would have to go to court to stop a film from being shown in theatres. Other court cases would decide that since television stations are federally licensed, local rating boards have no jurisdiction over films shown on television. With the movie industry deciding to set up its own rating system, most state and local boards ceased operating.


In the United States, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), through the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) issues ratings for movies. The system was instituted in November 1968 and is voluntary; however, most movie theater chains will not show unrated domestic films and most major studios have agreed to submit all titles for rating prior to theatrical release. Most films will have the MPAA insignia at the end of the closing credits. Earlier films that had full opening credits such as The Poseidon Adventure would bear the insignia in the opening.

The ratings as they exist in 2008 are:


  • G - General Audiences - All ages admitted. There is no content that would be objectionable to most parents. Very mild language may exist, including words such as "heck", "moron", "dumb", "rats", "darn", "fart", "burp", "idiot", "crud", "jerk" or "stupid". This is one of only two ratings dating back to 1968 that still exists today.
  • PG - Parental Guidance Suggested - Some material may not be suitable for children. These films may contain some mild language, crude humor, thematic elements, sexual themes, scary moments and/or violence. No drug content is present. The F word generally was not heard in pre-1984 "PG" films. There are a few exceptions to this rule. A few racial insults may also be heard. Before the creation of PG-13, many "PG" films (i.e. Airplane! and Nine to Five, both 1980) included elements such as swearing and drug use, and, in the case of Airplane!, strong sexual references and nudity. Also, films such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Dragonslayer contain some explicit bloodshed. Content such as this helped lead to the creation of the "PG-13" rating.
  • PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Films given this rating may contain sexual content, brief or partial nudity, language, humor, mature themes, political themes, terror and/or intense action violence. Bloodshed is rarely present. This is the minimum rating at which drug content is present; marijuana is the maximum use for this rating, with a few exceptions (i.e. Dreamgirls and Rent). While PG-13 films usually have more profanity than PG films, this is not necessarily the case. A film that is given a PG-13 rating due to profane language and/or racial insults is given this rating because it contains more of these elements than a PG rating would permit. A film rated PG-13 for "intense violence" is given this rating if blood is present in a violent way. PG-13 is the most commonly awarded rating. In most years, this rating has accounted for the majority of films released. .


  • R - Restricted - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult 17 or older. These films may contain strong profanity, graphic sexuality, nudity, strong violence, scariness, gore, and drug use. A movie rated R for profanity often has more severe or frequent language than the PG-13 rating would permit. An R-rated movie may have more blood, gore, drug use, nudity, or graphic sexuality than a PG-13 movie would admit. Some R-rated films have an "unrated" DVD release with added scenes of violence, sexual material, or profanity. At its inception, the R certificate permitted patrons aged 16 and older to attend unaccompanied, but this was raised to 17 in the 1970s. Local authorities have the power to set a higher age (usually 18, but rare cases as high as 21). On the other hand, in some places, the age requirement is not universally enforced, or not enforced at all. This is the other rating that dates back to 1968 and still exists.
  • NC-17 - No one 17 and under is admitted - These films contain a lot of graphic violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse, strong language, or any other elements which, when present, most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children and teens. NC-17 does not necessarily mean obscene or pornographic in the oft-accepted or legal meaning of those words. The Board does not and cannot mark films with those words. These terms are legally ambiguous, and their interpretation varies from case to case. The NC-17 designation implies that the Ratings Board has determined that due to the content of the film, it should be intended for adults only. NC-17 replaced the X rating in 1990. Many films which received X-ratings prior to the 1990 change received a re-rating of NC-17. Many theater companies and local operators will not play NC-17 titles and some newspapers and magazines will not run ads for these films. Most NC-17 titles have limited theatrical release, usually in smaller theaters, or are released directly to video or DVD. Most NC-17 titles also have an edited versions released on video and/or DVD that are either unrated or R-rated. Originally, NC-17 stood for No children under 17 admitted, but this was almost immediately changed to its current wording, which restricted films certified as such to patrons 18 years and older.


  • NR or Not Rated - NR is not an official MPAA rating. It is used for independent or foreign films that are in limited release and have not been submitted to the MPAA for a rating classification, or have surrendered their MPAA rating (e.g. This Film is not yet Rated). It is also used by a film that is soon to be released and has trailers out for promotional purposes, but has not yet received a final rating. Advertisements for films with a pending rating contain the notice "This film is not yet rated". Most films released before 1968 carry this policy. Some vendors attach "youth-restricted product" labels to certain unrated films.
  • M - For mature audiences (used 1969-71). This rating is now defunct. Most films given this rating were re-rated PG, PG-13, or R. It is not considered equivalent to any other rating, unlike GP, another defunct rating that is considered identical to PG.
  • GP or General audiences—parental guidance suggested - In 1970-71, the MPAA found that the "M" rating was viewed by audiences as seedier and more adult than its intended meaning (to signify films containing material that may not be appropriate for some children). In response, the designation was changed to "GP". Shortly afterward the MPAA shortened it to PG- (Parental Guidance Suggested), after some people thought that it meant "General Patronage".
  • SMA - "Suggested for mature audiences". Not an official rating, but an advisory used for a number of years prior to the MPAA ratings in 1968. This advisory appeared on certain films with mature themes or violence.
  • X - The precursor to the current NC-17 rating that unlike the other ratings was not trademarked. Because it was not trademarked it became so widely used by the U.S. pornography industry that the MPAA replaced it with the NC-17 rating in 1990. This has led to the misconception that NC-17 means pornographic in content.

Film Advisory Board

The Film Advisory Board (FAB) has instituted a rating system based on the level of maturity of the material's intended audience, rather than the film's content. While the FAB ratings system is not as recognized or well-known as the MPAA's rating system, it is in use by a number of commercial video distributors for direct-to-video releases that would have been impractical to submit to the MPAA. The Film Advisory Board has six ratings categories. Each includes a brief description as to the rating's explanation, such as "Violence in Battle Scenes", "Substance Abuse" or "Brief Nudity". The ratings as of 2008 are:

  • C - Children. Suitable for children ages 10 and under.
  • F - Family. Suitable for all ages (Equal to MPAA's G rating).
  • PD - Parental Discretion. Parental discretion is advised (Equal to MPAA's PG rating).
  • PD-M - Parental Discretion-Mature. Suitable for years 13 and older (Equal to MPAA's PG-13 rating).
  • EM - Extremely Mature. Ages 17 and older only (Equal to MPAA's R and NC-17 ratings, depending on description).
  • AO - Adults Only. Ages 18 and older only (Equal to MPAA's old X rating. Previously equal to MPAA's NC-17 rating until 2003).


See also

External links

  • The Netherlands film board's comparison of film classifications issued for twelve recent films by the classification boards of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden.
  • List of certificates recorded in the IMDb database. Note that while extensive, this list is not exhaustive, and that it mixes current and old rating systems and does not specify which is which, thus making it difficult to use.
  • IMDb's information about rating systems from all over the world.
  • Information regarding film classifications from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification.
  • Denmark Medierådet for Børn og Unge (The Media Council for Children and Young People).
  • Finland Valtion Elokuvatarkastamo.
  • France Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC).
  • Germany Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft e. V. (SPIO)
  • Iceland Smáís.
  • Iceland Kvikmyndaskoðun
  • Irish Film Censor's Office.
  • Japan Administration Commission of Motion Picture Code of Ethics.
  • Netherlands Kijkwijzer (and Nicam).
  • New Zealand Office of Film & Literature Classification.
  • Norway Media Authority.
  • Singapore Media Development Authority.
  • Sweden Statens Biografbyrå (SBB).
  • South African Film and Publications Board.
  • Spanish Film Academy (ACE).
  • United Kingdom British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
  • USA Motion Picture Association of America.

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