The Film Division examines films intended for public exhibition under the three-tier film classification system.

The Ordinance and Guidelines

Under the Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392), films intended for public exhibition must be approved by the Film Censorship Authority (FCA).

Films are either classified into the three-tier classification system or exempted from classification (examples of films eligible for exemption include educational, cultural, religious and promotional films). The three-tier film classification system according to the Ordinance is as follows:

Category I
Suitable for All Ages
Category IIA
Not Suitable for Children
Category IIB
Not Suitable for Young Persons and Children
Category III
Persons Aged 18 or Above Only

Categories IIA and IIB are advisory in nature, while the age restriction for Category III films is legally enforced.

In making a decision on the classification of a film, the censor will consider whether the film portrays, depicts or treats cruelty, torture, violence, crime, horror, disability, sexuality, or indecent or offensive language or behaviour, and whether the film denigrates or insults any particular class of public by reference to the colour, race, religious beliefs or ethnic or national origins or the sex of the members of that class. The Film Censorship Guidelines for Censors indicates the manner in which censors exercise their functions under the Ordinance.

We implement the film classification system in an objective manner. A person who is aggrieved by a decision of the FCA or censor may request the Board of Review (Film Censorship) to review the decision.

Film Search

Public Forms and Relevant Information

Frequently Asked Questions

(A) Film Classification System

ArrHow does a censor assigned by the Film Censorship Authority classify films? What factors would the censor consider when classifying a film for public exhibition?

Under section 10 of the Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392) (FCO), a censor has to take into consideration the following matters when making a decision:

  1. whether the film portrays, depicts or treats cruelty, torture, violence, crime, horror, disability, sexuality or indecent or offensive language or behaviour; and
  2. whether the film denigrates or insults any particular class of the public by reference to the colour, race, religious beliefs or ethnic or national origins or the sex of the members of that class.

The censor shall also take into account the following matters when making a decision:

  1. the effect of the film as a whole and its likely effect on the persons likely to view the film;
  2. the artistic, educational, literary or scientific merit of the film and its importance or value for cultural or social reasons; and
  3. in relation to the intended exhibition of the film, the circumstances of such exhibition.

The Film Censorship Guidelines for Censors (Guidelines) are published under section 30 of the FCO to provide guidance to censors in exercising their functions under the FCO. The Guidelines specify that censors should aim to reflect contemporary public attitudes towards censorship standards. Censors will also make reference to the results of public opinion surveys on film censorship standards carried out from time to time and the advice given by the panel of advisers on film censorship on a film.

ArrWhat are the classification standards for the use of language in films?
Expressions or expletives with sexual connotations and those normally used specifically in the context of certain criminal groups in Hong Kong are not permitted in Category I films. In Category IIA films, mild expletives with sexual connotations and coarse language may be used only infrequently and must be contextually justified. In deciding between Category IIB and III, the degree of offensiveness of any such language will be considered.
ArrIs the depiction of nudity allowed only in Category III films?

The depiction of nudity is an established art form, but full-length frontal nudity in a film that can be watched by children is generally not tolerated by local audiences. Such depiction is not normally permitted in a Category I film. Depictions of nudity in Category IIA films should be carried out with tact and discretion, and nudity depicted in a sexually suggestive manner should not be permitted. In considering whether to pass films depicting nudity for Category IIB or III, the Film Censorship Authority and censor will consider the degree of the possible erotic effect of that nudity.

ArrAre the standards for television programmes similar to film classification standards?
Television and film are different media, and hence different regulatory systems apply.

(B) Application for Public Exhibition of Films

ArrHow to apply for a certificate for public exhibition of films?

To apply for a certificate for exhibition of a film, the applicant should submit the following materials to the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration:

  1. the film (acceptable film format includes VCD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, DCP and USB flash drive etc.);
  2. a completed Film Submission Form (which can be downloaded here); and
  3. relevant information about exhibition of the film (including venue and date of exhibition)

two working days before the scheduled examination date. After reviewing the film, if the Film Censorship Authority considers it suitable for public exhibition, a Certificate of Approval (in the case that the film requires a classification) or a Certificate of Exemption (in the case that the film is exempted from classification) will be issued for its exhibition. For more information, you may refer to the information leaflet on how to apply for approval for film, packaging or advertising material.

ArrCould films be exempted from classification? If so, do I need any approval for public exhibition of films exempted from classification?

Under section 9 of the Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392), the Film Censorship Authority may exempt a film from classification if it is of a class or description of film prescribed as suitable to be exempted. According to Schedule 2 of the Film Censorship Regulations (Cap. 392A), the classes or descriptions of films which are suitable to be exempted from classification are:

  1. Cultural films
  2. Educational films
  3. Instructional films
  4. Promotional films
  5. Sports films
  6. Travelogues
  7. Musical films
  8. Religious films

A Certificate of Exemption will be issued for the public exhibition of films exempted from classification.

ArrDo film trailers need to be examined before public exhibition?
All films (including film trailers) intended for public exhibition should be submitted to the Film Censorship Authority (FCA) for examination and approval. The FCA may, if necessary, impose conditions on the exhibition of a film trailer, such as requiring it to be shown only with a certain category of films.

(C) Censorship Fee Remission

ArrWhat are the requirements for remission of censorship fee?

Section 12 of the Film Censorship Regulations (Cap. 392A) stipulates that the Film Censorship Authority (FCA) may direct that a censorship fee (in part or in whole) be remitted if he is satisfied that any film submitted for examination under the Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392) (FCO), among others –

  1. will only be exhibited free of charge;
  2. will be exhibited only once for payment;
  3. will be exhibited by a bona fide film club or similar organisation whose declared intentions are principally cultural and non-profit making and are accepted by the FCA as such; or
  4. is the same or substantially the same as another film which has been submitted to be dealt with under the FCO seeking the same or another classification and in respect of which the full prescribed fee is payable or has been paid.
ArrHow to apply for censorship fee remission?

Eligible applicant may apply in writing to the Film Censorship Authority (FCA) for censorship fee remission (a template is available here). The applicant should provide the following information to the FCA:

  1. purpose of the screening. If it is a film for a festival or an event, the applicant should provide the name of the festival or event and the period of the event;
  2. venue, date, time and number of the screening, and whether admission is free or otherwise; and
  3. whether the applicant is a bona fide film club or similar organisation whose declared intentions are principally cultural and non-profit making. The applicant is required to provide copy of the organisation’s Article of Association / Memorandum of Association and/or the letter on exemption from tax under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112) issued by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

(D) Panel of Advisers on Film Censorship

ArrWhat is the Panel of Advisers on Film Censorship? What do members of the Panel of Advisers do?
The Film Censorship Ordinance (Cap. 392) establishes a Panel of Advisers. Members of the Panel of Advisers give their views on the classification of films to censors to assist them in making classification decisions.
ArrHow can I become a member of the Panel of Advisers?

Any member of the public aged 18 or above and proficient in Chinese and English may apply to be a member of the Panel of Advisers. Application forms may be obtained from the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration or downloaded here).

For more information, please refer to the information leaflet on how to become a Film Censorship Adviser.