Informing the Public

Film ratings provide the public with the information they need to make informed viewing choices.

Under Canadian law, film classification is a matter falling under provincial jurisdiction.

The Motion Picture Association – Canada does not classify films in Canada.

Ratings Guide

Not sure what each rating means? Check out our interactive guide:

Suitable for viewing by all ages

Suitable for viewing by all ages
Parental guidance advised. Themes or content may not be suitable for children

Parental guidance advised. Themes or content may not be suitable for children
Suitable for people 14 years of age or older. Those under 14 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 14. Parents cautioned. May contain violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.

Suitable for people 14 years of age or older. Those under 14 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 14. Parents cautioned. May contain violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
Suitable for people 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain: explicit violence; frequent coarse language; sexual activity; and/or horror.

Suitable for people 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain: explicit violence; frequent coarse language; sexual activity; and/or horror.
Restricted to 18 years and over. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Content not suitable for minors. Video contains frequent use of: sexual activity; brutal/graphic violence; intense horror; and/or other disturbing content.

Restricted to 18 years and over. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Content not suitable for minors. Video contains frequent use of: sexual activity; brutal/graphic violence; intense horror; and/or other disturbing content.
Exempt. Contains material not subject to classification such as documentaries, nature, travel, music, arts and culture, sports and educational and instructional information.

Exempt. Contains material not subject to classification such as documentaries, nature, travel, music, arts and culture, sports and educational and instructional information.

Theatrical Classification

Films that are theatrically released are classified by provincial classification boards or other provincial authorities. Each board or authority reviews the film and provides a rating based on the criteria applicable in that province or adopts the ratings provided from another province.

Rating criteria vary slightly from province to province and are specifically detailed on the website of each provincial classification board or authority.

Provincial Classification Boards and Authorities

In Canada, ratings for theatrically released films are a matter of provincial and territorial responsibility. There are a total of seven provincial film classification boards and authorities in Canada (although some provinces adopt the ratings from other provinces or have delegated classification responsibility to other provinces).

All classification boards and authorities screen and assign ratings and information pieces to films that are released in theatres. Some boards and authorities also rate home entertainment products and adult films.  All boards and authorities also licence distributors and theatres, while some boards and authorities also licence retailers.

British Columbia

All films exhibited in theatres must be classified by Consumer Protection BC

Consumer Protection BC does not require the classification of general release (non-adult) home videos sold or rented in British Columbia but licensed distributors may submit general release home videos for classification on a voluntary basis.  

Through agreements with the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Consumer Protection BC provides film classification services for these provinces.

Saskatchewan

All films exhibited in theatres and distributed in Saskatchewan must be classified.

Through an agreement between the governments of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, Consumer Protection BC provides classification services for films shown in theatres in Saskatchewan.

Home videos distributed in Saskatchewan must bear a classification rating. Saskatchewan accepts Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS) ratings for this purpose.

Alberta

All films that are to be exhibited in theatres must be classified by Alberta Film Classification office

Alberta Film Classification does not classify television programs, home video, or internet content.

The Northwest Territories and Nunavut require that films exhibited in theatres to be classified but these territories adopt the ratings from Alberta (the Yukon does not maintain a film and video classification system). 

Manitoba

All films that are to be exhibited in theatres and distributed in Manitoba must be classified. 

Through an agreement between the governments of British Columbia and Manitoba, Consumer Protection BC provides classification services for films shown in theatres in Manitoba. 

Home videos distributed in Manitoba must bear a classification rating. Manitoba accepts Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS) ratings for this purpose. 

Ontario

All films that are to be exhibited in theatres or distributed in the home entertainment market must be classified.

Ontario recently amended its regulation to accept classifications from Consumer Protection BC and entered into an agreement with Consumer Protection BC for this purpose.

The Government of Ontario is also currently undergoing a public consultation on how to modernize Ontario’s Film Classification Act, 2005.

Quebec

All motion pictures that are to be exhibited in theatres and all direct-to-home entertainment releases (with some defined exceptions) must be viewed and classified by the Ministry of Culture and Communications (MCC).

The ratings used by the MCC for theatrical and home entertainment releases are different from other provinces in Canada and the Canadian Home Video Rating System.

The MCC also licenses distributors, exhibitors and retailers who sell and rent home entertainment products in Quebec and requires that a special sticker appear on all home entertainment products.

Quebec does not participate in the Canadian Home Video Rating System.

Maritimes

All motion pictures that are to be exhibited in theaters and all direct-to-home entertainment releases (with some defined exceptions) in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island must be classified by the Maritime Film Classification Board (MFCB), which is administered by the Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Authority.

(Newfoundland and Labrador does not maintain a film and video classification system.)

Home Entertainment

The Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS) is a voluntary system administered by the Motion Picture Classification Corporation of Canada (MPCCC), which provides classification information for discs (Blu-ray, DVDs) that are distributed in the home entertainment market in Canada (outside Quebec). Ratings provided by provincial classification boards and agencies are aggregated to provide a uniform CHVRS rating that can be used by distributors in the Canadian home entertainment market.

The CHVRS came into effect in May 1995 based on input from Canadian industry members, the Motion Picture Association – Canada, and provincial classification boards (outside of Quebec). Film classifications from Quebec are NOT part of the CHVRS and are administered by the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications.

Through the use of a standardized rating system and recognizable classification symbols, the CHVRS has become a valuable resource for helping Canadian consumers choose which products to view, rent and purchase.

Click here to access CHRVS:

The following descriptions are general definitions of each of the sixteen information pieces that may be used when classifying films. These definitions are included so that each board uses a common definition.

Not Recommended For Young Children – The film may be inappropriate for young children. An example might be the death of a family pet, a complicated family breakdown, or images considered frightening or disturbing for the very young. “Young Children” would be persons age 8 and under.

Not Recommended For Children – The film may include scenes that reflect a more mature situation, such as drug use/abuse. “Children” would be persons age 13 and under.

Frightening Scenes – The film contains images that might shock or frighten a person. These scenes might be found in a thriller, suspense, or war genre.

Mature Theme – Contains images or storylines that may be disturbing or incomprehensible to minors. The film may contain portrayals of domestic violence, racism, religious matters, death, or controversial social issues.

Coarse Language – Product contains profanity, threats, slurs, sexual references, or sexual innuendo.

Crude Content – Material or humour that is unrefined or coarse and that may be seen as harsh, rude, or offensive.

Nudity – Contains images of full frontal, partial, or rear nudity. Context will be determined by the situation, clarity, detail, repetition, and whether the nudity is in a non-sexual or sexual situation.

Sexual Content – Film may contain images and/or verbal references of sexual themes, sexual innuendo, fondling, implied sexual activity, and simulated sexual activity.

Violence – May contain restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, portrayals of violence with some bloodletting and/or tissue damage, and frequent more prolonged portrayals of violence resulting in bloodletting and tissue damage. The degree, frequency and intensity of the acts of violence will be factors in the classification decision.

Disturbing Content – Indicates the expected natural reaction by an audience to any elements of a film, including the tone of a film, pertaining to distress or suffering. This includes the implication or threat of physical and/or psychological violence, even when violence is not depicted.

Substance Abuse – Descriptive scenes depicting the use of illegal substances, the excessive use of tobacco, or the use of alcohol resulting in impairment.

Gory Scenes – Graphic images of bloodletting and/or tissue damage. Includes horror or war representations. Degree, frequency, and intensity will also be a major factor in the classification decision.

Explicit Sexual Content – Sexual acts, shown in full, clear, unequivocal, and realistic detail, that may or may not be gratuitous to the film.

Brutal Violence – Visually explicit portrayals of violence, which may be characterized by extreme brutality, extreme bloodletting, and/or extreme tissue damage. May include images of torture, horror, or war.

Sexual Violence – The degradation of an individual in a sexual manner. May contain images of non-consensual acts with the intent to inflict harm, for example: simulated rape, and/or the use of threat to force compliance in sexual activity.

Language May Offend – Contains language that may be offensive to some groups, i.e. sacrilegious language such as Goddamn; also used for PG films that contain explicatives.