BBFC age ratings are issued according to their intended use at the point of submission, as this can affect the final age category issued.
BBFC age ratings issued for UK cinema releases cannot be used for packaged media or by VoD and streaming services.
Content classified by the BBFC for use on DVD or Blu-ray, may also be used on VoD and streaming services, but cannot be used for cinema releases.
We recommend that content owners releasing content on VoD/Digital Video services familiarise themselves with the information below to see where any existing BBFC age ratings for these titles can be used.
Any VoD or Streaming services wishing to display BBFC age ratings must sign the BBFC’s Digital Video Service Licence (DVSL).
This includes the following service types:
TVOD (EST and Rental)
VSPs (Video Sharing Platforms)
Services that only link to third parties selling BBFC rated digital content
Find out more about how to use BBFC ratings.
This licence is the only way to use BBFC age ratings on VoD & Streaming Services, this includes ratings used under the following conditions:
A service displays a BBFC rating issued for physical media or VoD in any of the following labelling methods:
BBFC classification symbols
Any other form of label
The service receives ratings originally issued by the BBFC age ratings, but delivered alongside content and other metadata directly from a content owner, distributor
Note: BBFC ratings issued for cinema use cannot be used either with or without a licence.
Services using BBFC age ratings under licence get the following key benefits inclusive with their licence fee:
Access to over 250,000 age ratings to use on your service
Allows families to choose content safely based on a trusted and understood labelling system
Effective age labelling data to power your parental controls
Access to, and implementation support, for the BBFC’s Best Practice VOD Age Labelling User Guidelines
Optional ratings supply services - we’ll help you identify existing ratings for your content
Customer complaint handling. We’ll help you defend any customer complaints about age ratings
Brand protection. Content can be contentious. Protect your brand by letting the BBFC act as a lightning rod for issues related to rated content
Legal coverage. Mitigate risk as a business supplying content. Once content has been classified and given age ratings by the BBFC, you can supply it to digital video services confident that it’ll have a clean bill of health in complying with UK laws including, but not limited to the following:
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964
The Protection of Children Act 1978
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
The Public Order Act 1986
The Animal Welfare Act 2006
Coroners and Justice Act 2009
This licensing is designed to be light touch and easy to implement, and we aim to work collaboratively with partners to find pragmatic solutions when issues arise, however, the following conditions are expected from those licensing BBFC age ratings:
Services should only use a BBFC age rating (either displayed as BBFC classification symbols, bespoke labels or plain text) against the BBFC rated version of a film or TV show
Services must correct errors within two working days of notification
Content without a BBFC age rating should labelled in a way that does not imply it is BBFC rated (e.g. do not use a BBFC 18 symbol next to an unrated film or TV show)
Services only use BBFC home entertainment age ratings (those issued for packaged media and/or VOD - BBFC cinema ratings cannot be used)
Note: Licensed services do not need an integrated data feed with the BBFC. In most cases BBFC ratings are already within the metadata supplied by distributors and aggregators alongside video assets.
To optimise the safety and experience of families using your service we recommend, but do not mandate, that VoD and Streaming Services use age ratings in the following way wherever possible:
BBFC ratings should have an official BBFC symbol or, where that is not possible, be labelled as ‘BBFC’ in plain text using a format consistent across UK services.
Any unrated titles should be labelled using a format consistent across UK services (e.g. ‘Not Rated’).
Services should work towards displaying BBFC age ratings across all content. This includes asking distributors to ensure supplied content is classified by the BBFC for use in the home.
Content not rated by the BBFC should be kept to a minimum and be clearly and consistently labelled as ‘Not Rated’ across the platform, or employ a consistent single ‘advisory’ system that makes clear the ratings in question are not from the BBFC, in order to avoid confusion.
Additional content advice such as BBFC ratings info should be used alongside the BBFC rating before the call to action wherever it is available.
Age ratings should be integrated with parental controls by category.
Age ratings, and how they link to parental controls, should be explained within service FAQs.
More information about how to implement best practice age labelling can be found in our PDF User Guidelines.
To use BBFC age ratings on your VOD service simply read our licence and sign the DVSL application form.
We issue a yearly charge to licensees. This is tiered based on the number of rated features and seasons you expect to carry on your service across the year. There is no fee for services carrying under 100 rated titles across the year.
The fee period runs from 1 January to 31 December. Those joining outside January are charged a pro-rata fee. The fee is reviewed every December.
View our fee tariff.
Services signing the DVSL traditionally receive BBFC age ratings and associated data in metadata feeds from distributors and do not need to establish a direct data integration.
Where ratings are not being supplied via an existing feed, we can provide data access on a one-off or on-going basis. Some content delivery methods may generate an additional fee.
Feel free to get in touch with the team with any technical questions.
We recommend that services using BBFC age ratings display them using our well known and trusted age rating symbols.
The symbols can be accessed here. Full details of how to use them can be found on pages 8 to 12 of our VOD Best Practice VOD User Guidelines
If you have any questions about accessibility of the symbols at smaller sizes please contact us.
VoD and streaming services wishing to display existing BBFC age ratings need to enter into a licensing agreement. Licenced services may only use BBFC age ratings issued for use in the home, BBFC cinema ratings (such as 12A) cannot be used.
Here is a list of companies, brands and services that are currently licensed to use BBFC age ratings:
- Acorn TV UK
- Amazon Prime Video
- Freevee (formerly IMDb TV)
- Apple TV+
- iTunes Film & TV Store
- Barbican Cinema on Demand
- BFI Player
- BT TV
- Curzon Home Cinema
- Find Any Film
- Google Play Store
- YouTube Movies
- Google Web Search
- Google Knowledge Panel
- Lionsgate+ (formerly Starzplay)
- Microsoft Film & TV Store
- Pluto TV
- Peccadillo Pictures
- Rakuten TV
- Sky Store
- Soho Theatre On Demand
- Virgin Media Store
- Virgin Movies
- British Airways
- IFE Services Ltd
- Virgin Atlantic
Give us your feedback
If you’ve seen content on a platform, service or other provider that carries BBFC age ratings and you want to feedback about the age ratings please don’t hesitate to email us.
Please get in touch if you have any other questions about licensing or using BBFC ratings on VOD & Streaming Services.
Online and bricks and mortar stores that sell physical packaged media, or cinema tickets for films that are BBFC rated, and are not making a digital-only equivalent available for sale or rent.
Cinema websites and apps
Online retailers of physical media
These services do not need to sign BBFC Digital Video Service Licence (DVSL) to display BBFC ratings and associated data/IP.
These services only need to sign the BBFC’s Data Service Agreement (DSL.) if they wish to receive a feed of data from the BBFC.
Download the DSA here.
There are no fees to use BBFC ratings, if ratings are delivered to the vendor by the content distributor.
Customers wanting access to our ratings via a data feed may incur a fee.
Data supply method
These retailers traditionally receive BBFC ratings and associated data in feeds from distributors and aggregators, and do not need data integration with the BBFC.
Services signing the DSA, who wish to receive a feed of BBFC ratings, should contact us.
Services providing film and TV information that includes BBFC age ratings and associated data - but not directly offering digital or physical content available to buy, rent or view.
Online and app based film databases
Film themed social networking apps
These services must sign the BBFC Data Service Agreement (DSL) in order to display BBFC ratings and associated data to their users - even if the BBFC is not supplying data directly, and even if BBFC symbols are not used.
Download the DSA below.
These services do not need to sign the BBFC Digital Video Service Licence (DSL).
Customers wanting access to our ratings via a data feed may incur a fee. Contact us for more information.
Data supply method
These services wishing to receive a feed of BBFC ratings and associated data should contact us.
Ratings Symbols User Guide
The new age rating symbols came into effect for VOD services on 31 October 2019.
We encourage all VoD platforms to use our ratings for BBFC-classified content. The symbols are scalable and can be displayed at a variety of sizes without loss of clarity or readability. We recommend that symbols be displayed at 30px height (minimum of 24px), and be easy to find and always shown before the final call to action (the prompt to stream, transact or download). For VoD releases, you should use the 12 symbol and not the 12A symbol.
Use of our age ratings on VoD services (including transactional, subscription, catch-up and ad-funded services) is only available under direct licence with the BBFC. Contact us for more information about licensing.
An example is below.
We have produced separate guidance to help you use our symbols and ratings info on VoD platforms, and we can provide solutions if you need to display the symbols on your platform smaller than 24px. Please refer to our Best Practice Guidelines for full details.
If you have any questions about accessibility, or using the symbols in a smaller size, please contact us.