Here at the BBFC we are going to use a new set of Guidelines when rating films. These new rules for age rating films have been published online and will be used by BBFC Examiners from 24 February 2014. We update our rules every four or five years, after speaking to thousands of people including parents and teenagers, and thinking carefully about the laws in the UK which are important for filmmakers and cinemas.

Last year we spoke to over 10,000 people to ask them what they thought of our Guidelines and age ratings for films. We showed them films and clips, and listened to their views.

95% of parents with children under 15 told us that they check the age rating before watching a film, and 89% of them said age ratings were important. Most of the people we spoke to (92% of them) agreed with our age rating decisions.

However, parents did ask us to make some changes to the Guidelines so that we can age rate films as well as we possibly can.

Parents told us we had to make sure we thought carefully about the theme or topic of a film, and whether the story is likely to be too strong for children, including films which might make children tense or scared.

The public wants us to be more strict about certain words used in U films, and only allow very occasional mild bad language. In films for adults and older teenagers they asked us to think about how bad language was used in films, as well as the number of swear words used.

We also found that around a quarter of people don’t understand what the 12A rating really means, or who should go and see a 12A. So we have decided to concentrate on helping people learn about 12A this year and on making sure parents and children can find information about age ratings easily – including on CBBFC.

Every time we age rate a film we use the BBFC Guidelines. These are a special document which explain all the age ratings (U, PG, 12A etc) and tell parents and filmmakers what is allowed at each rating. They give details of whether we will allow violence, bad language, or other issues like drugs or nudity in films, and also explain how BBFC Examiners think carefully about the tone of a film and how it makes an audience feel.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said that listening to what the public tells us helps the BBFC to make sensible decisions about age ratings.

You can download the new Guidelines here.