12A and 12
What does the 12A symbol mean?
12A means that anyone aged 12 or over can go and see the film unaccompanied. The A stands for 'accompanied' and 'advisory'. Children younger than 12 may see the film if they are accompanied by an adult (eg someone over the age of 18), who must watch the film with them.
What's the difference between 12 and 12A?
The 12 certificate is just for videos, DVDs and Blu-rays. 12A is for films at the cinema only.
Is there a lower age limit for a 12A film?
No. However, the BBFC considers the content of 12A rated films to be suitable for children aged 12 and over, and we would not recommend taking very young children to see them. Works classified at these categories may upset children under 12 or contain material which many parents will find unsuitable for them.
An adult may take a younger child if, in their judgement, the film is suitable for that particular child. To help adults make this decision, we provide BBFCinsight for all films.
How important is the tone of a film at 12 or 12A?
The overall tone of a film or DVD, and the way it makes the audience feel may affect the classification. For example, a work which has a very dark or unsettling tone which could disturb the audience would be less likely to be passed 12A even if the individual issues in the film were considered acceptable under the BBFC guidelines. Similarly, if a work is particularly positive or reassuring this may stop it being pushed up a category from 12A to 15.
Will there be uses of strong language in a 12 or 12A work?
The BBFC's Guidelines state that there may be strong language (eg 'f***') at 12 or 12A, but it must be infrequent. The context of the strong language is important. Aggressive uses of strong language may result in a film or DVD being placed at the 15 category. There is some allowance for puns on strong language at this category.
There may be moderate language (eg uses of terms such as ‘bitch’ and ‘twat’ at 12 or 12A).
Any discriminatory language will not be endorsed by the work as a whole. Aggressive discriminatory language (for example homophobic or racist terms) is unlikely to be passed at 12 or 12A unless it is clearly condemned.
Do 12A films contain sex?
Sex may be briefly and discreetly portrayed at 12 or 12A. Verbal sex references should not go beyond what is suitable for young teenagers. Comedy may lessen the impact of some moderate sex references or innuendo but frequent crude sex references are unlikely to be accepted at this category. There may be nudity in 12A films but sexual nudity should only be brief and discreet.
Heterosexual and homosexual sex and sex references are treated the same.
What sort of violence can I expect in a 12 or 12A ?
At 12A, moderate violence is allowed but it should not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if they can be justified by their context (for example brief sight of bloody injury in a medical drama).
Action sequences and weapons may be present at 12 or 12A, and there may be long fight scenes or similar. Weapons which might be easily accessible to 12 year olds should not be glamorised in 12A and 12 works.
Sexual violence, such as scenes of rape or assault, may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated at 12A. Such scenes must also have a strong contextual justification.
Can horror films be passed 12 or 12A?
Yes, some horror films are passed at this category. Moderate physical and psychological threat is permitted at 12 or 12A as long as disturbing sequences are not too frequent or sustained.
What about other issues like imitable behaviour or drugs at 12 or 12A?
Dangerous behaviour (for example hanging, suicide and self-harming) may be present in 12 or 12A works but will not dwell on detail which could be copied or present those activities as pain or harm free.
Discriminatory behaviour should not be endorsed by the film as a whole.
There may be infrequent sight of drugs misuse in a 12 or a 12A but the portrayal should not be glamorised or provide instructional details.
How can I find out more about a specific 12 or 12A work?
Please check the BBFCinsight for the film or video you are thinking of watching. You may find BBFCinsight on this website or on our free App as well as on film posters, DVD and Blu-ray packaging, and on some listings. You will also find it attached to some film and video content which is available to download. It provides comprehensive information on exactly why a film or video has been given a particular category. All the issues are discussed in detail and parents in particular can use this information to make informed decisions when choosing viewing material for their children.
A guide to BBFCinsight is available here.
There are some answers to frequently asked questions about the 12A rating here.
For the full text of the BBFC Guidelines at 12 and 12A please click below.