Reconsideration requests and appeals

We offer a formal reconsideration procedure which is open to any distributor dissatisfied with the age rating of their content (see ‘Stage One’ below). The reconsideration is free of charge and will normally take less than 10 working days.

Distributors should note that a reconsideration or an appeal involves looking at the issues afresh. This means that the outcome could, in some circumstances, be more restrictive than the original determination.

Stage One: Request for reconsideration by the BBFC

All requests must be made by email (reconsiderationrequests@bbfc.co.uk). Reconsideration requests will only be considered if the rating has not been accepted on the client portal, Horizon.

Provided the conditions set out below are met, a request for reconsideration may be made in respect of:

  1. The age rating awarded
  2. Any cuts or alterations required as condition of classification at a particular age rating (cuts for category); or
  3. Any cuts or alterations required regardless of age rating (compulsory cuts)

A company wishing to appeal against a decision to refuse an age rating should proceed directly to Stage Two

A reconsideration of the age rating awarded can be made up to 42 calendar days after receiving the age rating decision.

After this period the decision can only be revisited by making a fresh submission, with normal tariff fees applying. Requests to reconsider cuts must be made within 42 calendar days of receipt of the cuts list.

On receipt of a written request for reconsideration, we will ensure that the content, or the relevant parts, are viewed again, including by senior staff. The outcome of the reconsideration will be sent to the submitting company within 10 working days (subject to print availability in the case of film content), provided there is no need to seek views from legal and/or other external advisers. If this is required, such views will be sought and considered as soon as is reasonably practicable.

If a reconsideration results in a different age rating, the submitting company may be required to return paperwork previously issued by the BBFC before new paperwork can be issued.

Reconsideration decisions are final. A submitting company wishing to pursue the matter further must make use of the procedures set out in Stage Two.

Stage Two: Appeal to an independent authority

A distributor dissatisfied with a BBFC determination in respect of its submitted content may appeal to an independent authority

Video (physical media)

If we have classified the content under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), the distributor may appeal to the Video Appeals Committee (VAC). The BBFC established the VAC under the provisions of the VRA.

A distributor has 42 calendar days from the date on which the BBFC issued its determination to the distributor’s account on the BBFC’s classification portal, Horizon, in which to lodge an appeal. Once a distributor has formally accepted the determination that the BBFC has issued on Horizon, the distributor has waived their right to appeal against the BBFC’s determination.

The distributor must lodge an appeal with the VAC directly by email to the Secretary of the VAC on secretary@vacappeal.co.uk. The distributor must pay an appeal fee of £2,500 + VAT, which the VAC will refund in the event of a wholly successful appeal. The distributor must submit a copy of the content to the VAC together with the initial request for appeal and the relevant payment.

The VAC’s procedures and requirements are available to download from this page. To make a payment, please contact the Secretary of the VAC. 

Video (digital/online/VOD)

If a customer is dissatisfied with the age rating offered for a work it may, within 42 days of receipt of the offer, ask the BBFC to reconsider its decision under the BBFC’s reconsideration policy. Appeals under the Video Appeals Committee are not available for digital-only (VOD) age ratings.

Theatrical

If the content is a theatrical release being classified under the Licensing Act 2003 then the appeal may be made to the local authority (or authorities) in whose area(s) the content is to be shown.

As a result of their role in licensing all public cinemas within their area, local authorities retain the right to vary a BBFC age rating decision, by raising or lowering the age rating, by waiving cuts, by requiring additional cuts, by permitting the showing of a film refused an age rating by the BBFC or by forbidding the showing of a film classified by the BBFC.