BBFC Guides

Our BBFC Guides are designed to help parents facilitate important conversations and understand BBFC classification issues in an easy-to-read format. 

Each bite-sized guide provides an overview of how we classify different issues in accordance with our Classification Guidelines and what it means at each age rating, alongside a collection of film case studies. 


From animated slapstick adventures to brutal torture scenes, scenes of violence can thrill, amuse or distress depending on their presentation. When classifying violence we take into account a range of factors, including the level of detail; whether it is stylised, comic, fantastical or realistic; its frequency within the content as a whole; and the context in which it occurs.

PDF | 1.16 MB


Language or behaviour that was once commonplace may now be deemed inappropriate or offensive. Although we cannot predict what any individual person may find offensive, our widespread public consultations involve a diverse mix of people to ensure our standards reflect the views and expectations of UK audiences today.

PDF | 1.08 MB


When making classification decisions we balance our objective of enabling content to reach the widest possible audience with our duty to protect audiences from harm. Our approach to classifying drugs is therefore designed to protect children and vulnerable adults from exposure to material that may encourage the misuse of potentially harmful substances.

PDF | 1.07 MB

Threat and Horror

Although threat and horror are frequently interlinked, audiences see them as having distinct individual properties. Threat is when someone is in a potentially dangerous or harmful situation, including being threatened by another; while horror typically features sustained suspense and terror, supernatural forces or creatures, gory or disturbing images, or regular ‘jump scares’ and frightening moments.

PDF | 1010.46 KB


We understand from our research that a key concern for people in the UK is the normalisation of bad language or gestures which younger audiences may repeat, without understanding the offence it may cause to others. We therefore classify language and gestures at each category in line with broad public opinion.

PDF | 1.08 MB

Suicide and Self Harm

Our approach to classifying suicide and self-harm balances the right of artists to express and discuss difficult ideas with our duty to protect vulnerable audiences from content that may be harmful.

PDF | 1.11 MB


Audience expectations regarding nudity can depend upon the context in which it appears and how it is presented. Nudity in the context of a sex scene or presented in a sexualised manner, for example, is more likely to be classified more highly than nudity which is wholly natural.

PDF | 1.14 MB


When classifying sex, we apply our guidelines to the same standard regardless of the sexual orientation of the activity being portrayed or referenced.

PDF | 1.04 MB

Sexual Violence

Our research repeatedly shows that sexual violence is the area of most concern for UK audiences. The issue can encompass a wide range of unwanted sexual acts and activities, including physical contact, threats, coercion and sexually abusive behaviour.

PDF | 996.21 KB