This page provides information about how film classification works in Canada. Tim’s film work includes:
- Essays and publications
- Blog posts on current and historical censorship and classification in Canada
Note: All links to film classification search results for Ontario are not working, due to website updates there. These links will be updated once their site is updated.
Film Classification in Canada
English Board Classifications
Quebec Board Classifications
Classification Rules by Province or Territory
Ratings Agencies in Other Countries
In Canada, film classification (or rating) is the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments. Most jurisdictions require classification to publicly exhibit a film, and many also require classification to sell or rent a home video. The classification boards do not censor film content. However, film distributors may choose to remove content in order to obtain a lower age classification. In some cases, particularly with regard to adult sex films, the distributor may need to remove content in order to obtain a classification.
Other authorities that review film content include customs and police. Customs may not to allow a film to enter the country if it contains prohibited content such as hate speech or obscene material. Local police may seize films for the same reason. Government classification does not exempt a film from customs or police seizure.
There is a national standard for home video classification, based on an average of the provincial ratings (except Quebec). This is the classification typically printed on home video distributed in Canada. These classifications are issued by the Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS).
Television classification is a federal responsibility, and managed by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Some broadcasters follow the guidelines and practices of the provincial classification boards when rating material. However, when setting the classification for TV shows to be sold for home video, the applicable provincial guidelines apply.
|English Language Board Classifications|
|G||General – suitable for all ages.|
|PG||Parental Guidance – no viewing restriction, but may not be suitable for all ages.|
|14A||Under age 14 requires adult accompaniment.|
|18A||Under age 18 requires adult accompaniment. In some jurisdictions, there is no admittance to anyone under 14.|
|R||No admittance to anyone under 18.|
|Quebec Board Classifications|
|G||General – suitable for all ages.|
|13+||Under age 13 requires adult accompaniment.|
|16+||No admittance to anyone under 16.|
|18+||No admittance to anyone under 18.|
Classification rules by Province or Territory
Newfoundland: Does not require classification, but theatres apply the Maritime Board ratings. Board operated from 1916 to 1947.
Nova Scotia: Classifies theatrical films and all videos, under the name Maritime Film Classification Board (since 1994). Started 1920s. Festival films self-classify.
Prince Edward Island: Requires classification of films and videos, uses the classification from the Maritime Board. Started 1994.
New Brunswick: Requires classification of films and videos, since 1994 uses the classification from the Maritime Board for English films and classification from the Quebec Board for French films. Started 1920s.
Quebec: Classifies theatrical films and all videos. Started by 1914. Film festivals exempt.
Ontario: Classifies theatrical films and all videos. Started 1911. Film festivals exempt if viewers 18 and over, otherwise classification is required.
Manitoba: Classifies theatrical films, festival films, and direct to video; video versions of theatrical films use the film’s classification. Started 1914. This board does not cut or ban any film.
Saskatchewan: Requires classification of theatrical films, now uses the classification from British Columbia for most films. Started 1911. Film festivals can request exemption.
Alberta: Classifies theatrical films. Started 1913. This board does not cut or ban any film. Film festivals exempt.
British Columbia: Classifies theatrical films and Adult videos. Started 1913. Film societies exempt (festival films typically include a membership fee, however members must be at least 18).
Yukon: Does not require classification, but theatres generally apply the British Columbia classification.
Northwest Territory: Requires classification for theatrical films, usually uses the Alberta classification. Started 1938.
Nunavut: Requires classification for theatrical films, usually uses the Alberta classification.
Other Ratings Agencies
Australian Film Classification
British Board of Film Classification, BBFC Kids’ Site
Hong Kong Film Classification
India Central Board of Film Classification
Irish Film Classification Office
Korea, Korea Kids’ Site
Netherlands, Netherlands Kids’ Site
New Zealand Classification, New Zealand Student Site
Singapore Media Classification Database
South Africa Film and Publications Board
United States Catholic News Service Classification
United States Dove Foundation Movie Reviews
United States MPAA Ratings