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New Zealand classification labels

All films supplied to the public in New Zealand must carry New Zealand labels

Under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, any film, DVD, video or restricted computer game that is supplied, offered for supply or exhibited to the public must carry a label showing its rating or classification.

The Classification Act empowers the Film and Video Labelling Body to issue labels for films, videos, DVDs and computer games it has rated or cross-rated G, PG or M from Australia or Britain. The Labelling Body must send anything that would receive a higher classification to the Classification Office for classification. Once the Classification Office has assigned a classifcation, we direct the Labelling Body to issue the appropriate label.

Classification labels are displayed:

  • in cinemas
  • on video and DVD cases
  • as part of film trailers and on advertising material such as posters

Film labels are colour coded, like traffic lights:

  • GREEN means anyone can view a film
  • YELLOW means that anyone can view the film, but the film may contain material, such as violence or sexual themes, which may offend or upset some people. Parental guidance is advised before children view the film.
  • RED means that the film is legally restricted and can only be viewed by the audience specified. There are no exceptions to this restriction.

All labels have a rating or classification symbol and usually a descriptive note briefly explaining the nature of content in the film that may be of concern to viewers, for example, whether the film contains violence or sex.

Ratings are assigned to unrestricted films

Ratings are usually applied by the Film and Video Labelling Body. There are different levels of ratings, including:

Image of the characters from Family Guy

G - Unrestricted

Anyone can be shown or sold this.



New Zealand PG label

PG - Unrestricted

Anyone can be shown or sold this, but parental guidance is recommended for younger viewers.



New Zealand M label

M - Unrestricted

More suitable for viewers over 16 years.



The Classification Office classifies all films containing restricted material

The Classification Office can classify according to age or purpose, or restrict a film's availability to a particular audience. The following classifications are common:

New Zealand R13 classification label

R13 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 13 years of age.



New Zealand R15 classification label

R15 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 15 years of age.



New Zealand R16 classification label

R16 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 16 years of age.



New Zealand R18 Classification label

R18 - Restricted

It is illegal for anyone to show or sell this to someone under 18 years of age.



New Zealand RP13 classification label

RP13 - Restricted

It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under under 13 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.



New Zealand RP16 classification label

RP16 - Restricted

It is illegal to show or sell this to someone under under 16 years of age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.



Other Publications don't have to have classification labels

The law does not require magazines, books and other non-film publications to be labelled before they are released to the public unless they have been submitted and given a restricted classification by the Classification Office.

Publications submitted to the Classification Office (by a distributor, law enforcement agency, or member of the public) can be classified and have conditions imposed on their display, including labelling requirements. Red labels have been available for restricted non-film publications, such as books and magazines, since 2005.

Unofficial labels on non-film publications (like magazines or music CDs) do not mean that a publication has been classified. Distributors sometimes assign their own labels to these publications to warn consumers of content. These labels are not allowed to resemble official classification labels.

Descriptive Notes are designed to inform people about content

Descriptive notes help consumers to make informed choices about the sort of film they wish to view by alerting them to the presence of content they may not want to see, or not want their children to see. The notes indicate whether there is content in a film such as offensive language, sex scenes, violence, cruelty or other potentially disturbing material.

For films, DVDs and videos that the Labelling Body can rate or cross-rate G, PG or M, section 10(2) of the Classification Act requires the label to contain, where appropriate, a descriptive note indicating whether the film contains anti-social behaviour, cruelty, violence, crime, horror, sex, offensive language or offensive behaviour.

For films, DVDs, videos and restricted games that the Classification Office classifies, section 36(3)(b) of the Classification Act requires the Classification Office to include in its direction to the Labelling Body to issue a label “the description to be assigned to that film”. The Classification Act does not prescribe the content of a descriptive note that the Classification Office may direct the Labelling Body to issue.