We assign age ratings to video content released on physical media (e.g. DVD/Blu-ray) under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA).
We assign age ratings to video content released on physical media (e.g. DVD/Blu-ray) under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA).
You can submit video to us by digital file delivery or finished check discs and single-element linear recordings on DVD or Blu-ray. We recommend submitting via digital file delivery, as content submitted on DVD and Blu-ray will receive an increased charge, to cover the cost of processing. 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.
Historic BBFC Black Cards or ratings cards issued by another regulator or classification body should be removed prior to submission. This is to avoid any potential misunderstanding or conflict with the current BBFC classification.
The only exception whereby historic BBFC rating cards or non-BBFC rating cards/symbols may appear is when they are part of a VAM/bonus material submission for home entertainment release. Any trailers intended for promotional use on packaged media content or online must not carry a historic or non-BBFC rating card or symbol, and must be submitted as a 'Trailer' rather than 'Bonus Material'.
Please see our technical requirements below for information on what file formats we accept.
If your content has received an age rating in the past, or you have both a 2D and a 3D version that need to be rated then we may be able to reissue an age rating. If the new version is the same then it can be processed for a reduced fee. You can request a reissue when making your submission in Horizon.
If a video version of a previously classified theatrical feature is found to be identical once it has been examined it will be charged at a reduced rate. Please note this does not apply to audio commentaries, audio descriptive content or those submitted alongside other DVD extras.
We can also give you advice as to what rating an unfinished piece of content may receive.
If you have not previously submitted content for a VRA age rating you will be entered into the Video Packaging Review Committee scheme. This is a voluntary scheme of self-regulation by the industry which regulates the sleeves of packaged media.
Customers wishing to opt out of the scheme should get in touch with the team.
Please note that video content submitted by members of the scheme are not officially rated until the packaging has been approved by the VPRC.
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.
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.
Companies may have 2D versions of films rated at a reissue rate providing the following conditions are met.
The Stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray version must be classified first.
Any subsequent versions of the 2D feature may then be passed as 3D/2D comparisons (providing that they are the same edit/soundtrack etc) as they present less picture information than the Stereoscopic 3D version.
A note on aspect ratios
If previously classified content is being released with a lesser picture ratio then there is no need to re-submit for classification.
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:
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.
Which audio, language and subtitle tracks to submit
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 the 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.
Video Packaging Review Committee
Please note: the Regulations relating to the display of category symbols on DVDs, Blu-rays and all other packaged media releases have been amended. From Tuesday 6 October 2020, all new video releases must, by law, comply with these new Regulations.
These new Regulations make important and significant changes to the colour scheme and display of the 12, 15 and R18 symbols. The changes are detailed in the Video Recordings (Labelling) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
Our age rating symbols user guide sets out the changes and lets you download the new BBFC category symbols.
The Video Packaging Review Committee (VPRC) is a voluntary scheme of self-regulation for the sleeves of DVDs/Blu-rays. The VPRC’s objective is to prevent offence to members of the public caused by explicitly violent or sexual imagery being displayed in public places on the covers of videos and DVDs. It also checks that submitted video packaging complies with relevant legislation regarding the display of classifications.
A customer submitting content to us for the first time is automatically entered into the scheme. They may choose to withdraw from it at any time. Video works submitted by members of the scheme are not classified until the packaging is approved by the VPRC, or the customer sends notification in writing of their wish to opt out of the scheme. Approved packaging carries the VPRC logo.
Customers wishing to opt out of the VPRC scheme should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be prompted to make a submission once your classification is available.
Packaging submissions can be uploaded directly to us during your online submission. The artwork should be actual size when set to 100% and should be submitted in PDF format. We can no longer accept hard copy proofs or sleeves.
It is essential that the packaging is designed in accordance with the Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012. We offer further information here but recommend you obtain your own legal advice regarding these Regulations.
It is not necessary to submit packaging for VPRC approval where the key art, key text and display of classification symbols and statements required by the labelling regulations remains unchanged from a previously approved version, provided the following course of action is followed:
The rights holder can show from their records that packaging has previously been approved and email email@example.com to this effect. If we do not receive such notification via email, we will assume that the DVD/Blu-ray is still pending packaging approval and no final age rating will be issued.
If the final age rating of the DVD/Blu-ray is not yet known then the most likely category should be represented and then changed once the content is classified.
You can contact us to obtain appropriate age rating symbols and templates.
All enquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
VPRC general guidelines
Packaging must conform to the requirements of the law, including the Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012, and should not encourage illegal activity.
Questions of taste and decency are those of propriety, or respect for what might be generally held to be appropriate in a given situation. In the case of video packaging, the Committee will have regard to the fact that it will be seen in shops, public places to which children have access. Packaging likely to cause serious or widespread offence is unlikely to be approved. Some allowance will be given according to genre, classification category and appeal.
Packaging must not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers e.g. by leading the consumer to expect a product which is very different to the one being offered.
Packaging must not mislead through inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise. For example, a film may not be advertised as ‘uncut’ if in fact it is not. Certain licence is extended to copy where it is clear that the facts are being comically distorted and no misunderstanding could therefore exist.
Packaging must not condone or encourage unsafe practices.
Packaging must not condone or provoke violence or anti-social behaviour.
With these broad definitions in mind there follows a list of specific areas which should either be avoided (especially in works aimed at children) or treated with caution:-
Areas to avoid or to treat with care
- Sexual violence and threats of sexual violence
Juxtaposition of nudity and violence
Strong and realistic threats to defenceless victims
Details of strong violence
Excessive blood – especially on real, contemporary weapons
Glamorisation of real, contemporary weapons
Overt sexual activity – including clear suggestion of genital/anal sex
Strong sexual references
Text that promises brutality, torture, sexual violence, or humiliation
This is not an exhaustive list
The VPRC will take into account the fact that each item of packaging is a separate entity and therefore has a separate context. Some allowance will be given according to the genre, classification category and appeal of the work.
The overall impression of a video sleeve is also important and the following factors should be borne in mind -
Size of image
Number of times an image is repeated
Combination of images
Combination of images and text
The VPRC is willing to consider appeals against its decisions. Requests for appeal should be addressed to email@example.com.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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:
The age rating awarded
Any cuts or alterations required as condition of classification at a particular age rating (cuts for category); or
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.