About the BBFC | British Board of Film Classification
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About the BBFC



Partners in choosing well

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent regulator and guide with over 100 years’ experience. We’re here to help everyone in the UK choose age-appropriate films, videos and websites, wherever and however they watch or use them.

We use focus groups and surveys to consult people across the UK every four to five years and use this process to listen to what they say, think and feel about what’s appropriate for children of all ages.

We believe that adults should be free to watch what they want to, so long as it’s within the law. But we also have a responsibility, when absolutely necessary, to restrict content that could otherwise cause harm to adults and society as a whole.

Working closely with the film and digital industries, with educators and organisations dedicated to children’s welfare, we are continually evolving the guidance we offer, and are increasingly able to make a bigger difference in helping everyone – children, families and adults - choose well.

In the Cinema

The BBFC has been classifying films and giving them age ratings since it was established by the film industry in 1912 to bring consistency to film classification when local authorities had started imposing their own, widely varying standards. Back then, we were called ‘the British Board of Film Censors’.

Statutory powers over film remain with local councils which can overrule the BBFC’s decisions.

On Video

Come the 1980s, Parliament passed the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), stipulating that subject to certain exemptions, video recordings offered for sale or hire in the UK must be classified by an authority designated by the Secretary of State.

At this point our name was changed to the British Board of Film Classification, and the President and Vice Presidents of the BBFC were tasked with applying the new test of ‘suitability for viewing in the home’.


Since 2008, the BBFC has been helping the home entertainment industry encourage the use of our age ratings for video on demand (VoD) services in the UK. There’s no obligation for VoD services or distributors making content available online to obtain and display ratings. But many choose to use them and we support them in doing this to help ensure that families have the best possible advice when choosing what to watch.

We also help mobile phone operators set filters at the right level to keep unsuitable content away from children.

And under the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA), we are setting the standards for how the adult industry age-verifies people accessing online pornography – helping protect children online as well as offline.

Independent. Not-for-profit

The BBFC is completely independent and because we’re not-for-profit, our fees are designed only to cover our costs. They are calculated against the running time of content submitted for classifying or compliance work, and we consult the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) before making any fee changes.