Frequently Asked Questions
On this page, you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about age limits.
Do the authorities check all audiovisual programmes in Finland?
No. The official film censorship in Finland ended when the Act on Audiovisual Programmes entered into force in 2011. Under the current system, audiovisual programme classifiers trained by the National Audiovisual Institute set mandatory age limits for films, television programmes and certain digital games. If you want to have an audiovisual programme classified, you can also order the classification from the National Audiovisual Institute.
Why are there audiovisual programmes with no age limits?
Under sections 9 and 10 of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes, certain audiovisual programmes are exempted from the classification obligation on the basis of content and purpose of production. However, such programmes as documents or real TV programmes are not, as a rule, exempted from the classification obligation. Such programmes as news broadcasts, sports programmes and live broadcasts are exempted from the classification obligation.
Unclassified audiovisual programmes may also be shown when granted showing authorisation by the National Audiovisual Institute.
Not all programmes carry labels indicating age limits. Educational, cultural, musical, news, discussion and sports programmes, quiz shows and live broadcasts are exempted from the age limit classification, which means that they are not labelled either. The harmful nature of the programme is only assessed if the programme has an age limit. Unclassified and unlabelled audiovisual programmes may thus contain material that is harmful to children.
Moreover, streaming and video-sharing platform services (such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO or Disney +) operating from abroad are not subject to Finnish legislation or the supervision carried out by the National Audiovisual Institute. The providers operating from outside Finland observe the legislation of the country in which they are established.
Why are programmes given different age limits in different countries?
The Finnish system of age limits is based on Finnish legislation and the age limit classification criteria determined by Finnish experts. In Finland, the classification criteria are based on research data on which audiovisual programme content can be harmful to the child’s development. In addition to research data, the age limit systems used in different countries are also influenced by such factors as cultural values, and research data is not treated in the same manner in all countries. In other cultures, age limits may be set on the basis of such matters as nudity in non-sexual context or rude language, which are not used as criteria for higher age limits in Finland.
Can I give feedback on age limits or compliance with them?
You can give feedback to the National Audiovisual Institute if you think that the age limit for a television programme or a film is too low or too high. Well-grounded feedback may prompt the National Audiovisual Institute to reclassify the film or the television programme in question.
You can also send the National Audiovisual Institute feedback on compliance with the age limits or inadequate age limit and content labels.
If you give your contact details, the National Audiovisual Institute will notify you if action will be taken on the basis of the feedback.
Does an audiovisual programme need to be classified in Finland if it has already been given an official age limit in another country? Do the Finnish age limits also apply in other EU countries, for example?
Yes, such programmes must also be classified in Finland. Digital games are an exception to this rule as the age limits set in the PEGI scheme also apply in Finland. A digital game with no PEGI age limit must be classified in Finland.
There are significant differences between individual countries in the setting of age limits and the classification systems and methods used. In other cultures, age limits for audiovisual programmes may be based not only on research-based information but also on moral-based assessments of what is considered harmful to children. For example, rude language, which is not a harmfulness criterion in Finland, may be used to determine the age limit in the PEGI scheme. Efforts to develop a Pan-European age limit classification system for films have been unsuccessful.
To find out whether the Finnish age limit also applies elsewhere, contact the authorities of the country in question.
Do commercials in films and other audiovisual programmes have age limits?
Commercials shown in audiovisual programmes, such as film trailers and television programme commercials (puffs), and other programme marketing material must be classified. However, they are not marked with content symbols. Age limits apply to them in the same manner as to all other audiovisual programmes. For this reason, as a rule, only audiovisual programme commercials allowed for all ages (S) should be displayed in the lobbies of cinemas if children of all ages can enter the space.
In which situations do the age limits for audiovisual programmes apply?
The age limits for audiovisual programmes must be observed when audiovisual programmes (such as films, television programmes and digital games) are publicly shown, sold, rented or made available to an audience by other means.
If the situation does not involve the provision of audiovisual programmes, the Act on Audiovisual Programmes does not apply and there is no obligation to observe the age limits specified in the Act. As the age limits for audiovisual programmes are intended to protect the development of children, complying with the age limits can also be recommended when there is no statutory obligation to do so.
Do parents violate the Act on Audiovisual Programmes if they allow their children to watch programmes or play games at home even if the children are too young?
No. The obligations laid down in the Act on Audiovisual Programmes on such matters as compliance with the age limits apply to providers of audiovisual programmes. The age limits for audiovisual programmes help parents to make safer media choices for their children. Therefore, observing the age limits at home is also recommended.
Is there any punishment for violating the Act on Audiovisual Programmes?
Under section 36 of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes, anyone who deliberately or through gross negligence
- fails to submit notification of the provision of audiovisual programmes (registration in the register of audiovisual programme providers kept by the National Audiovisual Institute) or information about the number of audiovisual programmes or a list of the titles of audiovisual programmes
- provides an audiovisual programme that
- has not been classified or clearly labelled
- classifies audiovisual programmes without the right to act as an audiovisual programme classifier
- fails to submit a notification of an audiovisual programme in the list of audiovisual programmes (age limit database IKLU), or fails to make an audiovisual programme available to the authorities under the conditions specified in section 21, subsection 3 of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes, shall be sentenced to a fine for audiovisual programme violation.
Do I need to register as an audiovisual programme provider if I only provide audiovisual programmes on an occasional basis?
You must enter your details in the register of audiovisual programme providers if you provide audiovisual programmes for economic purposes and on a regular basis. The National Audiovisual Institute assesses on a case-by-case basis whether the prerequisites for the registration are met.
Does the National Audiovisual Institute supervise commercials of products and services on television and in cinemas?
No but you can send feedback on the commercials to such bodies as the Council of Ethics in Advertising. Moreover, the age limit classification criteria set by the National Audiovisual Institute are not suited for assessing commercials of products and services, and commercials of products and services do not need to be classified and no age limits apply to them.
What are the consequences if I sell a game with an age limit of 18 to a minor or let a minor to watch a film with an age limit of 18?
Under chapter 17, section 18b of the Criminal Code (38/1889), providing minors with audiovisual programmes that are unclassified and unlabelled or for which the age limit 18 does not apply is punishable unless the audiovisual programme in question is exempted from the classification and labelling obligation under sections 9–11 of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes. Providing minors with audiovisual programmes with an age limit of 18 in other than television broadcasting is also punishable. This provision applies to such activities as selling minors games with an age limit of 18 or letting minors watch films with an age limit of 18. In both cases, the audiovisual programme provider can be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment of a maximum of six months for the illegal display or distribution of an audiovisual programme to a minor.
Can a company provide a digital game to a group of children (such as a game coaching group) if the group is continuously accompanied by an adult coach?
If the age of the players is within the age limit set for the game or the players are older than the age limit, the game can be provided to the group. If the statutory age limit for the game is 7, 12 or 16 years and the player is no more than three years younger than the age limit, the player may play the game when accompanied by a person aged over 18 who knows the child well. As the purpose of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes and the age limits is to protect the development of children and as every child has the right to be protected, it has been determined that in most cases the person aged over 18 who knows the child well means the child’s parent or guardian. In the situation referred to above, age limit discretion can only be applied if each child is accompanied by such an adult for the whole duration of the playing. The presence of an adult coach alone is not enough.
Can a school class led by a teacher go to a cinema to watch a film even though some of the pupils are younger than the age limit set for the film?
The presence of a teacher is not enough in such situations. Each of the children must be accompanied by a person aged over 18 who knows the child well. As the purpose of the Act on Audiovisual Programmes and the age limits is to protect the development of children and as every child has the right to be protected, it has been determined that in most cases the person aged over 18 who knows the child well means the child’s parent or guardian. For this reason, the age limit discretion should not be applied to groups of children, and groups of children should only watch films with age limits suited for the participants.
Which age limit applies if, for example, YouTube videos or Netflix contents are publicly shown?
The Finnish legislation on audiovisual programmes does not apply to video-sharing platforms or streaming services located outside Finland and the National Audiovisual Institute does not supervise their activities or content. However, it may be a good idea to check whether public showing is permitted under the terms and conditions of the service.
Why can programmes for persons aged over 12 be shown on television at any time of the day?
Television companies have concluded a mutual code of conduct agreement (‘watershed agreement’) on common practices and measures to meet the requirements set out in the Act on Audiovisual Programmes and on ensuring the protection of children. For example, the companies have agreed that audiovisual programmes with an age limit of 16 are not shown before 21.00. Audiovisual programmes with an age limit of 18 are not shown before 23.00. Audiovisual programmes with an age limit of S, 7 or 12 can be shown without restrictions.
TV companies have also pledged to take into account the viewing habits of children of different ages and the child welfare perspective in their programme schedules.
Can I take a baby to a film screening?
As a rule, the age limits apply to children of all ages. Discretion of up to three years is allowed when the child is accompanied by a person aged over 18 (this usually means the child’s parent or guardian). For example, a child who is at least 4 years old can watch films that are allowed for children aged over 7 when accompanied by their parents. With babies, you can watch audiovisual programmes allowed for all ages (S).
Only commercials allowed for all ages can be shown in cinema lobbies. Why?
Marketing material for audiovisual programmes, such as advertisement films (trailers) shown in cinemas or commercials for television programmes, are audiovisual programmes within the meaning of the law in the same manner as films. Audiovisual programme providers must ensure that programmes with an age limit of 7, 12 or 16 years are not viewed by children younger than that. If the age limit cannot be controlled, only audiovisual programmes allowed for all ages may be provided.
How does the classification system IKLU work?
IKLU is a system for classifying and monitoring age limits for audiovisual programmes maintained by the National Audiovisual Institute. Most of the IKLU’s classification data is produced by the audiovisual programme classifiers trained by the National Audiovisual Institute. For this reason, the National Audiovisual Institute is not responsible for any errors in the database contents, direct or indirect damage to the user arising from the use of the contents, outages in the data network or other disruptions. The National Audiovisual Institute makes every effort to keep the information up-to-date and correct the errors that have come to its attention.
Age limit classification system IKLU (requires registration)
The publicly accessible part of the system where you can search for official age limits set for audiovisual programmes registered in Finland can be viewed here (The content is in Finnish).
You can give feedback on errors in the database.