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Reference > Media law & regulation > Video classification

Video classification schemes
AUSTRALIA
Ratings system is administered by the Office of Film and Literature Classification and established under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995.
G general, suitable for all ages [green]
PG parental guidance recommended for persons under 15 years [yellow]
M mature, recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over [blue]
MA 15+ mature accompanied (restrictions apply to persons under the age of 15) [red]
R 18+, X18+ restricted to adults 18 years and over [black]
The same classifications apply to films and computer games.
The consistent design of classification markings and colour coding were added by the OFLC in July 2005.

AUSTRIA
No classification; packaging usually carries the German rating but this has no force in law. Video titles banned in Germany may be available in Austria.

BELGIUM
The same classifications as in the Netherlands
AL suitable for all ages (Alle Leeftijden)
MG6 parental guidance recommended for children less than six years old
6 not recommended for children less than six years old
9 not recommended for children less than nine years old
12 not recommended for children less than 12 years old
16 may not be sold to children under 16

CANADA
Canadian Home Video Ratings System operates voluntarily, classifications being based on an average of provincial film ratings.
G general, suitable for all ages
PG parental guidance
14A no sale or rental to under 14s, who should view with an adult
18A no sale or rental to under 18s, who should view with an adult
R restricted: no rental or purchase except by adults 18 years and over
E exempt

FRANCE
Theatrical classification, when available, must be displayed on the video packaging. A voluntary scheme is administered by the Syndicat de l'Edition Vidéo (SEV) for films that have not been released theatrically.

HONG KONG
Category I general, suitable for all ages
Category II may be not be suitable for children because of violence, bad language or adult situations
Category III unsuitable for minors because of explicit violence, sex or bad language

ICELAND
System administered by Kvikmyndaskoðun Íslands
L suitable for all audiences
7 unsuitable for very young viewers (replaces LH)
12 passed for viewers aged 12 and above
16 passed for viewers aged 16 and above
AB banned

IRELAND
The system is administered by the Office of the Films Examiner Oifig Scrúdóir na Scannán).
G general, suitable for all ages
PG parents strongly advised to watch with young children
12RA may not be supplied to children under 12; younger children may watch with a 'responsible adult' (RA)
12 unsuitable for children under 12; may not be supplied to them
15 unsuitable for children under 15; may not be supplied to them
18 unsuitable for children under 18; may not be supplied to them

NETHERLANDS
Same classifications as for film; also used in Belgium
AL suitable for all ages (Alle Leeftijden)
MG6 parental guidance recommended for children less than six years old
6 not recommended for children less than six years old
9 not recommended for children less than nine years old
12 not recommended for children less than 12 years old
16 may not be sold to children under 16

NEW ZEALAND
Administered by the Labelling Body under the Films, Video & Publications Classification Act 1993
G general, suitable for all ages
PG parental guidance: all ages but recommended for persons 13 years and older
M mature, recommended for mature audiences 16 years and over
R specified restrictions
R16 restricted to persons 16 years and over
R18 restricted to persons 18 years and over: 'objectionable unless circulation is restricted to persons who are 18 years of age or over and who are subscribers to mail order outlets or patrons of adults-only premises'

PAKISTAN
U universal, suitable for all ages
PG parental guidance: some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
A adult

SOUTH KOREA
System administered by the Media Ratings Board
General suitable for all audiences
12+ unsuitable for children under 12
15+ unsuitable for children under 15; this rating was briefly suspended in 1999/2000
18+ unsuitable for children under 18

SWITZERLAND
Voluntary system introduced in April 2008 by the Swiss Video Association (SVV)
based on minimum ages: 0+, 6+, 7+, 10+, 12+, 14+, 16+, 18+

UK
Under the video Recordings Act 1984, the statutory ratings applied from 26 July 1985, with the addition of the 12 rating on 1 August 1989; administered by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)
U universal, suitable for all ages
Uc universal, particularly suitable for children
PG parental guidance: children may watch but parents are advised that some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
12 may not be bought or rented by children under 12; it is the responsibility of the accompanying adult whether a child under 12 views the video
15 suitable only for audiences aged 15 and over
18 suitable only for audiences aged 18 and over
R18 may be sold only in licensed sex shops to persons aged 18 and over

Page updated 30 December 2008
© David Fisher