Film classification is giving age ratings and content advice to films and other audiovisual content. This helps children and families choose what's right for them and avoid what's not.

The Council can classify a film for you if:

If a film has not been classified by the BBFC, it must not be shown in public until the Council has classified it. A typical example of this would be a locally made film to be shown at a local film festival. 

A distributor of a film or other party may appeal to the Council against a decision of the BBFC. They can request that the Council classifies or reclassifies the film for local screening. 

The Licensing Act 2003 also provides for a number of exemptions for certain types of film. This includes those exhibited for the purposes of advertisement, information, education, or similar.

If the premises and/or exhibition of a film is not regulated by the Licensing Act 2003, it may still be necessary to comply with the recommendations issued by the BBFC or Licensing Authority. This includes classification and the admission of children to view the film in community premises.

When to apply

It can take up to 6 weeks for a film to be classified by the Council.

You are therefore advised to leave sufficient time between making your application and any event (or advertising for that event) that you may be planning.

How to apply

To apply for the classification or reclassification of a film you must apply in writing to the Licensing Team at least 6 weeks prior to the date you wish to exhibit the film.

You can email the Licensing Team, or write to us at:

Licensing Team
London Borough of Sutton
Civic Offices
St Nicholas Way

An application for certification should include the following information:

  • name of the film maker
  • a brief synopsis of the film
  • running time of the film
  • any recommendation as may have been made by the filmmaker upon age limit for the intended audience for exhibition of the film
  • any existing classification issued by an existing classification body, whether within or outside the UK
  • information identifying the material within the film considered by the exhibitor to be likely to have a bearing on the age limit for the audience for exhibition of the film
  • language spoken in the film and whether there are subtitles in English
  • details of how any age restrictions will be enforced.

All requests should be accompanied by a copy of the film(s) (in DVD format where possible) to avoid delays.

Non English language films

If the film contains dialogue in a language other than English an interpreter will be required for the classification.  We will arrange for a suitable interpreter and the applicant will be responsible for the cost of this.

Regulated entertainment

In addition to having your film classified, please be aware that you may also require a licence. Under the Licensing Act 2003 the showing of a film is classified as 'regulated entertainment'.

Venues which hold a premises licence may be able to show films. If there is no premises licence in place or the licence does not authorise regulated entertainment, you may need to apply for a temporary event notice (TEN)


The fee for film classification is calculated on an hourly basis. For the current fee contact the Licensing Team.