Under the Films Act, IMDA is responsible for classifying films meant for distribution and public exhibition. The classification is based on content standards and guidelines drawn up in consultation with the community and industry. Such guidelines and regulations by IMDA 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 in Singapore 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. IMDA is assisted by the Films Consultative Panel in its evaluation of films.
By adhering to IMDA regulations and content standards, filmmakers can ensure that their films receive appropriate movie ratings for different audiences in Singapore.
Films exempted from classification
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.
Classification allows films to be rated for different audiences here. Films and videos share the same classification rating system, but videos distributed in the market are limited up to the M18 rating only.
No Children under 16
Parental Guidance 13
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 (where available) should be affixed on the video packaging, and displayed at the ticketing platforms and on a film's publicity materials.
Consumer advice will be issued to selected PG films and all films rated PG13 and above.
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 the Film Classification Guidelines.
The classification process is as follows:
View the Film and Video Classification Guide to find out how to obtain a film classification rating and how IMDA classifies films.
To view the label specifications and download the rating markings, click on one of the following links:
- Download the label specifications in .doc format (429.70KB).
- Download the label specifications in .pdf format (676.15KB).
- Download the rating marking image files.
Media Classification Database
The Media Classification Database provides classification information on films, video games and arts entertainment events, to help members of the public in Singapore make informed choices on media consumption. Click here to search for classification ratings.
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.
Find out more details on the exemption guidelines for print publicity materials here.
If unsure of whether your print publicity material(s) [“advertisement(s)”] comply with the guidelines, you can submit it to IMDA for approval via the Submission of Print Advertisements for Films form.
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.
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.
Simultaneous Rating System (SRS)
The Simultaneous Rating System allows different versions of a film to be screened concurrently at the discretion of the film distributor to cater to different audience segments. The intent is to enable consumers to choose upfront the version of the film they would prefer to watch.
To ensure that the audiences watch the appropriately-rated films, film distributors have to work with cinema exhibitors to help consumers make an informed choice. The availability of the different versions of the film must be made known in all publicity materials and at point of sales. These should be extended to all marketing and sales platforms used by cinema exhibitors, including online and mobile ticketing portals.
Cinema exhibitors have the option of introducing additional measures such as programming different versions of the film at different cineplex locations.
Find out more information on Submission Guidelines for Simultaneous Rating System here.