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New Zealand's classification labels

Age ratings and descriptive notes on classification labels provide people with information and warnings about films, shows and games. These help you make choices that are right for you and for your kids.

For information about obtaining a classification label see How to submit films and games for classification.

Full set of classification labels, from G to R18

Useful links

What are they?

All labels have a classification symbol and usually a descriptive note indicating the type of content in a film or game that may be of concern to viewer - for example, whether the film contains violence or sex.

You will find the labels displayed:

  • In cinemas
  • On video and DVD cases
  • As part of film trailers and on advertising material such as posters and online listings
  • Sometimes magazines, books or music CDs may also have classification labels

Film labels are colour coded like a traffic light:

GREEN
means anyone can view a film.
YELLOW
means that anyone can view the film, but guidance from a parent or guardian is recommended, and some films may be more suitable for mature audiences.
RED
means restricted. It is illegal to show or give the movie or game to anyone under the age stated on the label.
Full set of classification labels, from G to R18
Official classification label poster

What do the labels mean?

Unrestricted labels

Please note that most unrestricted films are not classified by the Classification Office before release, but if you disagree with a film's G, PG or M rating you should definitely let us know. For more information, see Inquiries and complaints about classification.

G label

G

G or General Audiences means people of all ages can view these films and games. There is no language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that would upset tamariki.

PG label

PG

PG or Parental Guidance means that films and games with a PG label can be sold, hired or shown to anyone. This means unaccompanied tamariki can watch. However the label indicates that some scenes may upset younger or more sensitive tamariki and it pays to check before they watch or play.

M label

M

M – Films and games with an M label can be sold, hired, or shown to anyone but they are are more suitable for mature audiences. It’s a good idea to find out what the film is about and to check the descriptive note. The M means the movie might contain violence, offensive language, drug use, sexual or adult themes or nudity. 

Restricted labels

R means legally age restricted and RP means younger people can only watch with a parent or guardian.

It is an offence to allow someone underage to watch or access restricted films and games.

Restrictions apply in cinemas, at home and at school – everywhere. Adults cannot give tamariki permission to watch restricted films or play restricted games. Doing so can lead to a large fine – so if a cinema denies you access on account of age, they’re just doing their job.

If you disagree with any of our classification decisions, feel free to contact us on info@classificationoffice.govt.nz

R13, R15, R16 and R18 labels

Red means restricted
R13, R15, R16, R18

It is illegal to sell, hire, show or give a film or game with an age restricted label to anyone under the age specified. If something has one of these labels it can only be supplied to people of and over the age shown on the label. A parent, shop or cinema is breaking the law if they supply an age-restricted item to someone who is not legally allowed to access it. You will see these labels on films, games, DVDs and a few music recordings, magazines and books.
What does R13 mean?

RP13, RP16, and RP18 labels

RP13, RP16, RP18

The RP label means that the film or DVD can only be watched by someone under the age on the label if they are supervised by a parent or guardian (an adult over 18). You will see these labels on films and DVDs. A parent, shop or cinema is breaking the law if they allow children to access these films without adult supervision.
What does RP mean?

R label

R

R means that there is a special restriction. Refer to the words on the right of the label for the full conditions.

Other publications

Sometimes publications other than films and games are submitted to the Classification Office for classification. These publications can be given labels and display restrictions just like a film or game. Red restricted labels have been available for restricted non-film publications such as magazines since 2005.

Distributors sometimes assign their own labels to these publications to warn consumers of content. These labels are not allowed to resemble official classification labels and do not mean that a publication has been classified.

What does the descriptive note on the label mean?

Descriptive notes are designed to help people when they are deciding whether to watch a film. The notes indicate whether there is content in a film such as offensive language, sex scenes, violence, cruelty or other potentially disturbing or offensive material. Please be aware that violence or offensive language, for example, will generally be stronger in a restricted film than an unrestricted film.

For more information about classification labels contact the Information Unit.

R13 label with descriptive note
R13 label with descriptive note: "Contains violence and offensive language"
R16 label with descriptive note
R16 label with descriptive note: "Contains sex scenes"

Tips for parents

  • The descriptive note on the label tells you about the highest impact content you can expect to see in a film or game. So it may say things like ‘contains violence and offensive language’.
  • Websites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes contain more detailed content information.
  • Not all animated films are meant for tamariki! Check the age rating and descriptive note first.
  • Think about where you or your child might be watching a film. Watching a movie at home on DVD or online means you can switch it off, mute a scene, or walk away instead of experiencing it on a big screen at the cinema with surround sound. You know your family best.

Top 5 questions the Classification Office is asked

 

Can I take my baby to a restricted film?

There are no exceptions to age restrictions – it’s illegal to take underage tamariki and babies to see age-restricted films. However many cinemas have special screenings just for parents and babies. Contact your local cinema for more details.

What ID is accepted at cinemas and retailers?

Cinemas and retailers have their own policies around what forms of ID are acceptable when it comes to proving your age. School issued student IDs are usually sufficient, but it’s best to check with them beforehand.

Are ‘M’ rated films age restricted?

No. While ‘M’ rated films indicate the content may be more suitable for older teens, it is not a legal restriction.

Why are some films and games age restricted?

Experts say that some content can be harmful or confusing for young minds. Also the impacts vary depending on the person. We aim to protect those who are most vulnerable – tamariki, rangatahi and those who have experienced trauma.

How do you make your decisions?

We apply an analytical framework laid out in the Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993, balancing this at all times with the NZ Bill of Rights Section 14 – the right to Freedom of Expression. It’s more complex than you might think! If you’d like to learn more, feel free to contact us for more information.