Getting a BBFC Classification for VoD and Streaming Services

This page lets you know what content needs a BBFC rating for use on VoD and Streaming Services and details how to submit your content.

Do I need to get my work rated?

Content that we have already rated for packaged media or VoD use (regardless of who submitted it), does not need to be re-rated. Additional permissions, such as a Distributor Changes, are not needed from the submitting company. 

BBFC cinema ratings cannot be used on these services, this content should be re-submitted for a BBFC VoD rating.

Any moving image works to be made available on these services can be submitted.

You can submit video to us by digital file delivery or via a link to a streaming service (please note passwords for streaming links should be emailed to us). Please note the content needs to be the same as the version that will be released to the public. All content submitted to us for classification therefore needs to be the full, final edit in the correct screen ratio with final sound mix.

Please see our Technical Requirements below for information on what file formats we accept.

If you do not have an account please request one.

Video-on-Demand submissions cost around 53% less than having a work rated for DVD or Blu-ray release.

If you subsequently submit the identical work for a DVD or Blu-ray rating, your VoD cost is off-set against the new charge.

NOTE: Standard costs for digital age ratings are offset if (1) the same work is later submitted for a DVD/Blu-ray age rating under the VRA and (2) we have the original VoD submission in a format that makes it possible to compare with the VRA submission. Where a video submission consists of several elements that have each received individual VoD classifications, only one of the original fixed fees are included in the discount. Any PBE fees are not offset during subsequent VRA submissions.

We will accept works with discreet Digital-On-Screen graphics for security watermarking purposes, but may ask for works to be resubmitted if any DOGs or watermarks obscure any content that could affect the age category awarded.

For Video-on-Demand works, please contact customer Helpline if you have any questions.

Please see our Technical Requirements below for more detail on our Digital-on-Screen graphics policy.

Content in a language other than English and which does not have subtitles will be viewed by an external interpreter if a Compliance Officer speaking that language is not available.  

A work which is aimed at speakers of the original language will be viewed by a Compliance Officer who speaks that language or an external interpreter, whether the material has English language subtitles or not.

Where the BBFC judges that an interpreter is required you will be informed before viewing, and your invoice will reflect these additional costs. Full details of which titles are considered to be aimed at speakers of the original language can be obtained from our customer services team.

If you require a lower age category for your content than the one received, the BBFC will issue a cuts list on request. There is no additional charge for this. The content must then be resubmitted. This resubmission is free of charge on the basis that only the requested edits have been made. If additional edits are found, then the submission and original rating will be withdrawn. The content will then need to be submitted as a new title and normal VOD viewing charges will apply.  Resubmitted content will only be accepted via the same media format/delivery mechanism as the original submission. 

We will make a request for payment of your submission before we schedule the work for viewing.

Our Accounts team will provide a pro-forma invoice after submission. We now accept online payments.

The BBFC is happy to hold a deposit on your account to ensure that content is not held up waiting for payment. For more details, please contact our Finance team.

When you make your submission, you select when you want the rating. The cost is determined by when you can deliver the content in three or more days, 48 hours, or 24 hours before your requested classification date. 

We reserve the right to delay the date in exceptional circumstances, however the vast majority of submissions will receive their rating on time

Once we have rated your content, the rating can be accepted on Horizon, and will include the rating info.

Complete details of all the titles you have submitted for age ratings can be found on Horizon.

When supplied in a suitable format the BBFC will archive any content submitted for age rating in our secure digital archive.

We are happy to discuss any concerns you might have about retaining your content. Please contact us.

Reissue Age Ratings & Dual Rating

The BBFC can reissue age ratings for previously classified content under certain conditions.

Our compliance team will check if the content can be classified again without viewing. If we can, we will reissue the classification and will charge a lower fee. If we need to view the submission again, a full viewing fee will be payable. Please see our Fee Tariff for a full list of costs.

Companies can request a reissue of the age rating by selecting one of the following options when they submit content via Horizon: 

Reissue Age Rating

This allows the age rating for content that has previously been classified for Home Entertainment (Packaged Media or VoD) to be reissued for new Home Entertainment releases.

Dual Rating

This allows the age rating for feature films that have previously been classified for Cinema within the previous six months to be reissued for new Home Entertainment releases without the need for a further viewing, under certain conditions. Please visit our Dual Rating page for further information including how to access this service.

BBFC VOD submission guide 2019

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Technical Requirements

All moving footage must be classified including multiple versions of a feature e.g. director's cut, audio commentary etc and any bonus content or moving menus that will form part of a final product.  

The only exception is where a distributor considers footage to be exempt.

Video file technical specifications

Files can uploaded directly to the Horizon platform.  There can only be one file per submission.  File resolution should ideally be 1920x1080p and a bit rate of 10mbps or higher.

The following codecs and formats are acceptable:

  • video/mp4

  • video/3gpp

  • video/quicktime

  • video/x-msvideo

For a full list of input codecs and containers click here.

The files must not be protected in such a way as to make copying or streaming reliant on specific hardware or decoding. That is, it must not have DRM or encryption enabled. To use such techniques would render impractical the storage of the content for the purpose of the statutory archive.

Delivery of digital files can be made by direct upload of the files on Horizon.

If you choose to submit via streaming links, these should ideally be at a quality of 1920x1080p and a bit rate of 10mbps or higher.

  • If the content is a foreign language production and will be released in the UK with English subtitles, then this will need to be submitted for classification.

  • If the content is also available in a dubbed English version, this will also need to be classified.

  • If the content is an English language production it is not necessary to submit foreign language tracks or foreign language subtitles which may be featured on a DVD or Blu-ray. If these are submitted they will be ignored.

  • If a content is to be released with subtitles for the hard of hearing then these do not need to be classified but the BBFC will include them if they are present.

Audio commentaries and other alternate audio tracks also require classification. The only exceptions are audio descriptive tracks (e.g. for the visually impaired) which involve very simple and short descriptions of the action on screen. 

There are no particular restrictions on audio formats, although surround sound audio tracks will generally be ignored unless this is the only audio track present.

Our anti-piracy measures have been accredited by the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the Trusted Partner Network. The security of submitted material is treated very seriously.

While we prefer not to have DOGs on submissions made for classification, we will, given the understandable concerns of the industry with regards to piracy, accept DOGs on home entertainment submissions, subject to adherence to the below standards.

Please note that we cannot accept DOGs on cinema submissions.

Home entertainment submissions should not contain large anti-piracy logos or captions on screen (e.g. “Property of…”) that obscure the content or make it difficult for our examiners to classify the work. Examples of DOGs which have resulted in our being unable to classify a submitted work include ones which:

  • are scrolling, flashing or otherwise dynamic rather than static.

  • contain more than 10 characters.

  • contain dark or bold colours with a transparency of less than 50%.

  • are located in the middle of the picture rather than along the top or bottom edge.

Further advice can be provided upon request.

Acceptable example:

Unacceptable examples:


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.

All requests must be made by email ( 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.

A distributor dissatisfied with a BBFC determination in respect of its submitted content may appeal to an independent authority where one is in place.

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. An appeal for reconsideration is only valid where the customer has not accepted the rating.

Video Appeals Committee - Provisions

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