Using BBFC ratings on streaming and VoD services

A BBFC licence is the only way Digital Video Services can use BBFC age ratings

Our Digital Video Service Licence allows platforms delivering content to UK audiences via digital download or stream, or using our age ratings or ratings info as part of a listings guide or databases, to display ratings and associated data - including BBFC symbols.

This includes all streaming and VoD (including SVoD, TVoD, AVoD, PVoD, EST and digital rental) services. 

A licence must be still be obtained where BBFC ratings are not displayed using BBFC symbols.

The license covers platforms that deliver content via digital file or content stream, including VoD, SVoD, EST, digital rental services and services using age ratings as part of listings guides and databases.

BBFC age ratings for theatrical releases cannot be used for content distributed on digital video platforms.

Our licensing FAQs (including licensing costs and application process) can be found here.

Benefits of licensing BBFC age ratings for your service

The following benefits, data and services are available when you become a licenced digital video platform.

Licensing is the only way your service can use our BBFC age ratings (text and/or symbols). This includes:

Enhance your customer experience and protect your brand

  • BBFC age ratings are familiar to UK cinemagoers and consumers of DVD and Blu-ray products
  • The BBFC’s labelling system is trusted and understood by the public. Recent consumer research reveals that:
  • 81% of parents check for age ratings when downloading films
  • 91% of parents think it's important to have the same age ratings online as for cinema and DVD/Blu-ray
  • The public agrees over 90% of the BBFC’s age ratings
  • Providing BBFC age ratings and ratings info on your service allows your customers to make safe and informed purchasing and viewing choices. This is particularly useful for parents or guardians
  • Read our guide to using BBFC ratings and symbols online

Customer complaint handling

  • We can answer your customers’ questions on the suitability of BBFC rated works directly or via your own customer service team, whichever you prefer.

Ratings info – additional rating information

We offer extensive enhanced metadata and assets as part of your licence. This includes:

  • Ratings info, the bite-sized (max 72 characters) overview of key age rating issues – as seen on film posters and the back of DVD packaging. A quick reference point for parents and viewers  e.g. “Strong language and mild sex references.”   Available for over 42,000 feature films and over 37,000 TV episodes
  • Any feature content released in UK cinemas since 2007 comes with detailed ratings info that explains the issues and themes which led to the film’s age rating
  • These are exclusive to Licensed Digital Video Platforms
  • Available for over 1,200 films – including all new cinema releases

BBFC Electronic Black Cards (EBC)

  • Since 1912 all UK cinema releases are preceded by a version of the BBFC black card
  • Electronic Black Cards are available to Licensed Platforms. Not only does this replicate the cinema experience, it also denotes legal content, and acts as a final reminder of the age rating of a film before it begins
  • BBFC Electronic Black Cards can also contain Ratings info.
  • Black cards can be co-branded and either hardwired to pre-roll on with your premium VoD content or dynamically attached via your playlisting/scheduling system.  They are entirely optional
  • Customers wishing to use them on their service receive completed bespoke cards ready to pre-roll with all film title and age rating information
  • We can also provide technical assistance with implementation.

Compliance advice

  • As the UK’s leading experts in film and video compliance we can answer your questions and help guide your own compliance policies.

Data matching

  • We can map our age ratings to your entire slate.

All these service elements are optional and costs are inclusive of the licensing fee.

Licensing FAQs

The fee structure is tiered and based upon the estimated number of digital video titles on your service over the course of each year.

  • Up to 100 titles: No licence fee

  • 101 to 250 titles: £573.90 p.a. (excl. VAT)

  • 251 to 1,000 titles: £1,147.80 p.a. (excl. VAT)

  • 1,000 to 5,000 titles: £2,295.61 p.a. (excl. VAT)

  • More than 5,000 titles: £4,591.22 p.a. (excl. VAT)

Fees run January 1st - Dec 31st each year (pro-rated as necessary).

Please complete our simple one page licensing form. Your signature will record you agreement to be bound by our Digital Licence and the BBFC’s standard terms and conditions.

Any work passed by the BBFC for DVD, Blu-ray, VHS or VOD. These are accessible on our website for any search result listed by type ‘Video’ or ‘VOD’.

BBFC age ratings issued for theatrical works must not be used for digital video content (EST/VOD) in most cases. Only BBFC home entertainment ratings issued for packaged media (DVD/BD) or digital-only use should be displayed on your service. 

There is one exception where BBFC theatrical ratings can be used. When works not yet rated for home entertainment use are made available to pre-order for Electronic Sell Through (EST) on digital video services, the pre-order can temporarily display the theatrical rating. There are some important caveats to this, full information about this exception can be found here.

Digital video services can display a BBFC theatrical classification for a title on pre-order under the following circumstances:

  • When a work has not yet been classified by the BBFC, but the identical version has a BBFC theatrical classification

  • The label 'TBC*' must be used alongside all instances of the age label for the pre-order. This should link to the following disclaimer ideally on the page, or hot-linked to a section in your FAQs that declares the following:  

'A version of this work was classified by the BBFC for use in UK cinemas. This work is not yet rated for home entertainment use.'


VOD services should remove, or not use, BBFC theatrical classification and 'TBC*' on pre-order under the following circumstances:

  • When the work is not rated by the BBFC for use in cinemas

  • When the home entertainment release is known to be different to version released theatrically 

  • When the work has a BBFC home entertainment rating

  • When the work is released (ie. is no longer a pre-order). If no BBFC age rating is available at this stage the rating label should be changed to 'unrated'.

  • If the work has been refused a BBFC home entertainment rating

Unrated works

  • The BBFC offers the most comprehensive coverage of film and TV age ratings of any UK body.

  • We encourage Licensed Services to request that their content suppliers only provide content with BBFC age ratings for DVD, BD or VOD use. Content that is not BBFC-rated, or has only been rated by the BBFC for theatrical exhibition, can be submitted for a cost-effective digital age rating via our Watch & Rate service.

Find out more about Watch & Rate – Digital-only from the BBFC

  • We are content for dual labelling systems to be used on Licensed Services, but it should be clear to the customer which age ratings have been issued by the BBFC and which ones are from another system.

  • Alternative age ratings systems should not use text or symbols representing the following:  U, PG, 12, 12A, 15, 18, R18

  • Alternative symbols should not take on the shape, colour or design style of the BBFC age rating symbols

  • BBFC age ratings issued for theatrical works must not be used in place of a BBFC age rating issued for home entertainment formats on VOD services. If a work is available as an EST (VOD) pre-order the use of a BBFC theatrical age rating is permitted on a temporary basis under specific conditions. These are detailed here.

Explaining BBFC age ratings

  • We recommend that you provide an explanation of what each BBFC age ratings category means in your FAQS. We can help with this.

  • We ask that Licensed Services also provide a link to the BBFC website and display the BBFC logo.

AnchorUsing BBFC symbols on low res devices/small screens

  • We encourage Licensed Services to use the official BBFC age ratings symbols wherever possible and at a size no smaller than 25px in height.

  • In some instances the space available for the age rating icon is so small that the category information in the traditional BBFC symbol isn’t properly legible.  In these instances (usually below 25px in height) we offer licensees exclusive use of our small symbols. These contain a refined version of the classic BBFC symbols but retain the same shape, colour and fill that make them identifiable and their meaning clear.

  • These are ideal for use on listings, search results pages or on your GUI.

  • These can be obtained on request from