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BBFC UK Film Ratings Explained

A family with a dog with the BBFC film rating symbols

Image Credit: ©BBFC

When you go to the cinema you are used to seeing a rating next to the title of the movie.  These ratings are given to every movie on release in the UK to ensure that younger children do not see films that are inappropriate.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is the body which is responsible for classifying films in the UK. The BBFC have created a set of guidelines that it uses to determine the age rating and content advice for films and other audio-visual content including movie trailers, DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand (VoD) .

Revision Resources

It should be noted that ratings are not legally binding. However they are widely respected and followed by cinemas and DVD/Blu-ray retailers.

The BBFC also provides detailed content advice for each film that it rates, which can be found on their website.

Age Ratings Used By The BBFC

Here are the ratings that cinema releases in the UK can given by the BBFC.


U stands for Universal, a film which is suitable for all ages. Children of any age can watch this film. There may be advice if the film contains for example mild comedic violence or very mild swearing.


PG stands for Parental Guidance, and is given to a film where parental guidance advised. Some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. It is up to a parent’s discretion whether to let their child see the film.


12A means that the movie is suitable for anyone 12 years and over. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult to see this film in the cinema. A 12A film may contain moderate violence, discreet sex scenes, nudity, moderate bad language and infrequent drug use.

The 12 rating is given to DVD and Blu-ray releases.


A 15 film is only suitable for those 15 years and over. It may have sex scenes, violence, sexual violence, nudity, drug use, dangerous behaviour, discriminatory language and themes, swearing, threat and horror.


A film which is rated 18 is only suitable for adults over the age of 18. It may contain extreme violence, explicit sex scenes, sexual violence, illegal drug taking and very dangerous behaviour.

It should also be noted that the BBFC are not responsible with the ratings given to video games. These are determined in the UK by the The Games Rating Authority which is run by The Video Standards Council.

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