Under the Films Act, IMDA is responsible for classifying films meant for distribution and public exhibition. The classification is based on content guidelines drawn up in consultation with the community and industry. These guidelines seek to reflect the social norms and values of Singapore’s multi-racial society.
Over the years, Singapore has moved away from censorship to classification. With only three ratings when the classification system was first introduced in 1991, it has since expanded to six in 2011, with consumer advisories where necessary. Classification allows films to be suitably rated for different audiences so the public can have greater access to a wider range of media choices without compromising on the need to protect young children from undesirable content.
Classification allows films to be rated for different audiences here. Films and videos share the same classification rating system, but videos sold in the market are limited up to the M18 rating only.
No Children under 16
Parental Guidance 13
Evolution of the Film Classification Rating System
Film classification was introduced in July 1991 with three ratings to indicate the suitability of the content for viewers of different age groups – G (General), PG (Parental Guidance) and R18 (Restricted to 18 years and above).
Various improvements were made to the system over the years. The R18 rating was changed to Restricted (Artistic) in September 1991. In 1993, a new rating – NC16 (No Children under 16) was introduced to protect children from viewing films thematically unsuitable for them, and to bridge the gap between PG and R21. In 2004, the M18 rating was added to provide more choices for young adults. A PG13 rating was later added in 2011, on the recommendation of the Censorship Review Committee. G, PG and PG13 are advisory ratings and are not age restrictive. This means parents can exercise their discretion as to whether they would want their young children to watch these films.
Today, the multi-tier system provides a clear indication to adult viewers and parents on the suitability of a film or video so that a more informed choice can be made.
For details on the content standards, please refer to theFilm Classification Guidelines (481.79KB).
Media Classification Database
The Media Classification Database provides classification information on films, video games and arts entertainment events, to help members of the public make informed choices on media consumption. Click here to search for classification ratings.
The classification process is as follows:
Step 1: An applicant submits a film for classification.
Step 2: The IMDA assesses and classifies the content accordingly. For controversial titles, the IMDA will consult the Films Consultative Panel (FCP) or focus groups to gather more feedback and views prior to making a classification decision.
Step 3: The applicant is then informed of the rating and consumer advice (if any), and any relevant conditions.
Step 4: The applicant can then apply for classification labels for duplicate copies for distribution or public exhibition.
Step 5: If the applicant does not agree with the rating, an appeal can be made to the Films Appeal Committee (FAC) for non-national security related content. Appeals on national security related content must be made to Minister of Communications and Information.
Please click here (322.22KB)to view the fees table.
Consumer advice is provided to help the public make informed choices. These are descriptors that highlight the key content concerns found in a film, such as violence, nudity and sexual scenes. Consumer advice and ratings should be affixed on the video packaging, and displayed on a film's publicity materials where available.
Consumer advice will be issued to selected PG films and all films rated PG13 and above. Please click here (106.13KB) to view the standard list of consumer advice descriptors, and click here (1.43MB) to view an example of consumer advice on a video packaging. Consumer advice and ratings should be reflected on a film's publicity materials and promotional trailers where available.
Classification guidelines also apply to bonus materials in a Blu-ray or DVD. Examples include short films, trailers, deleted scenes or behind-the-scenes segments. There are instances where the bonus materials contain elements such as sex, nudity, drug use or violence, resulting in a higher rating than the film.'
Please click here (255.29KB) to view an example of consumer advice on a video with bonus materials at a higher rating.
Edited Version of Videos
Distributors have the option and flexibility to bring in videos from different regions, allowing them to cater to various market segments and age groups with different versions of the same title.
An edited version of a video may contain edits made by the studios, producers or filmmaker. They may also be one of the several versions released in different parts of the world.
The IMDA requires companies that import such versions into Singapore to make it clear that they are, in fact, edited versions. Hence, distributors need to ensure that such information is displayed as part of consumer advice on the packaging.
To view the guidelines and a sample of the consumer advice label for edited videos, please click here (532.57KB).
Guidelines for Box-Set Submissions
Box-sets are compilations of films of the same series, or from the same director or featuring a specific male or female lead. It should be a finished product with proper title and packaging for the boxset. Distributors need to only affix one rating label for box-set submissions.
To view the guidelines and a sample of the consumer advice label for boxset submissions, please click here (414.89KB).
Films Exempted from Classification
All films meant for distribution and public exhibition in Singapore need to be classified before being made available to the public. Certain types of films are exempted from classification, such as children’s programmes, arts and cultural performances and sports. It is the responsibility of the distributor/exhibitor to ensure that the film falls within the exemption categories and does not contain impermissible materials.
Please click here (329.11KB) to view the categories of films which are exempted and elaboration of what constitutes impermissible materials.
Under the Co-Classification Scheme, trained content assessors can co-classify content that fall within a G, PG and PG13 rating. The intent of the scheme is to facilitate a faster turnaround for film and video titles and to develop industry capability by training a pool of content assessors who are familiar in interpreting the Classification Guidelines.
In partnership with the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and the Singapore Media Academy (SMA), IMDA developed a training programme which includes practical application and interpretation of the Film Classification Guidelines. Participants are certified as Content Assessors (CA) after passing an assessment at the end of the 12-day training.
All trained content assessors who meet the registration requirements must register with IMDA as a Registered Content Assessor (RCA) before they can co-classify content on behalf of any film or video company that engages their services. It is compulsory for all RCAs to attend an annual refresher training with IMDA in order to renew their registration. Failure to classify a film appropriately would be an offence.
Print Publicity Materials
Publicity materials for films and videos include posters, DVD sleeves and packaging, banners or signboards. These are exempted from submission to the IMDA but distributors and companies are required to observe certain guidelines.
Once a film is classified, posters displayed at public places should clearly display its rating and consumer advice, if any. If the film has not been classified, the publicity materials should carry the words "Rating to be advised" and subsequently, be updated when the rating is made available.
The display of posters and banners for R21 films should be restricted to cinema lobbies. Sensitivity should also be exercised in the marketing and dissemination of publicity materials for NC16 and M18 films.
For more details on the exemption guidelines for print publicity materials, please click here (187.48KB).
If unsure of whether your print publicity material(s) [“advertisement(s)”] comply with the guidelines, you can submit it to IMDA for approval via this link.
All promotional trailers of films must be submitted for classification unless exempted.
Trailers can only be shown prior to films of a similar or higher rating. For example, a PG-rated trailer cannot be screened before a G-rated film. To protect the young from viewing content unsuitable for their age, trailers that depict some horror, mild coarse language or violence should not be shown with a movie targeted at children.
Trailers rated PG13 and above must not be screened in public places, such as video walls, where there may be inadvertent exposure to young audiences. Trailers of R21-rated films can only be shown before R21-rated films.