If you want to offer games to the public on a physical medium in Germany, you can apply for an age rating here and find out about the costs.
The German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG) is the legal basis. The USK General Policy Statement regulates the examination procedure. You can find further information on the obligations for content here.
New rules apply for the submission forms, starting on January 1, 2023: With the last update of the German Youth Protection Act (JuSchG) in May 2021, new rules for the age rating procedure under Section 14 (6) JuSchG will apply from January 01, 2023. These essentially include the following:
- Additional information (descriptors) will be added to USK age ratings: Alongside the age rating, additional descriptors on the main reasons for the age rating will also be issued by the USK classification committees in the future. For this purpose, the USK will make specially generated graphic files (age rating + descriptors) available for download after each examination.
- Interactive elements and online features are taken into account in the examination procedure: When assessing the age rating, online features and interactive elements are also considered if they are a permanent component of the game. This is primarily taken into account using additional descriptors. If a significant usage risk is identified, this may lead to a higher age rating.
- Consideration of technical protection concepts: In the future, precautionary measures (e.g., parental control systems) taken by the publisher/developer will also be taken into account during the examination process.
- Exceptions: In the following cases, no descriptors are given: Games with an age rating “USK ab 0 freigegeben” (Approved without age restrictions) without interactive elements and online features, trade fair demos, prototypes, cover and discs, and trailers.
Further information on the obligations of providers can be found here.
Submission and examination process
How to acquire a rating:
- Submission form: Download the submission form and fill it out. As of January 1, 2023, the USK will only accept applications with a new submission form.
- Information about the object of review: Send us the complete game in terms of content together with the completed and signed submission form and all available and printed materials such as the manual, cover, fact sheet, achievement/trophy list, walkthrough, cheats, etc. For games that contain a multiplayer mode, we need a way to review this mode: Additional versions/accounts, video footage of gameplay, and a detailed description of the MP mode.
- Additional Information on interactive elements and online features: More detailed information and materials on the planned integration and design of interactive elements or online features (e.g., Communication functions, purchase functions, gambling-like mechanisms, location sharing, negative consequences of not playing, push messages), must be provided.
- Data format: Please note that the submission form with all documents has to be sent to us in one package simultaneously. If information and game data are transferred digitally (e.g., FTP, Cloud Transfer), the form must be attached to the e-mail. For games to be transferred digitally, the USK can provide FTP accounts. By postal mail, please send the documents to:
USK – Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Unterhaltungssoftware GmbH
- Confirmation of receipt: As soon we get your application for an examination, you will receive a confirmation email with the reference number. We will contact you immediately if the game cannot be examined because documentation needs to be included or the game needs to be completed.
- Processing time: The game receives a rating within a maximum of five (ad hoc procedure), twelve (urgent procedure), or twenty (standard procedure) working days. The decisive factor is the date of receipt by the USK. The period begins one working day after receipt of the submission form. Please note the closing times of the USK between Christmas and New Year. The deadlines for the classification procedures are extended accordingly. You can check here the examination dates.
- Examination result: After the title has been reviewed and examined, we will notify the contact person via email, as stated on the submission form. The USK will provide specially generated graphic files (age rating + additional descriptors) for download.
USK age rating requirements
Obligation to use new graphics for USK age rating (game packaging)
New obligations apply to examination results based on submission forms from January 01, 2023, onwards: An additional age rating graphic must be displayed on the back of the game packaging.
- Back of the packaging: After the examination, the USK provides specially generated graphic files (age rating + descriptors) for download in each case. The graphics should be displayed in the lower two-thirds. The size varies, depending on the number of other notices, but comprises a maximum of 42.25mm (width) x 15.61mm (height). In the following cases, no additional descriptors are issued: Age rating “USK ab 0” (Approved without age restrictions) without online features or interactive elements, trade show demos, prototypes, cover discs, and trailers.
- Front labeling: The regulations for the design of the age rating remain unchanged.
- The cover design can be submitted to the USK for approval at .
Regulations for already-rated games
Games submitted before the new regulations under the JuSchG came into force and have already received an age rating do not have to display any descriptors (up to and including USK test number “…/22”) and retain their validity.
However, an obligation to display descriptors in the form described exists if the game has been reviewed again and corresponding descriptors have been issued (including identity checks).
Online, Storefronts & IARC
If USK-rated games are distributed via websites, the existing USK age rating must be displayed (cf. § 12 (2) sentence 4 JuSchG and § 12 Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media – JMStV). The descriptors provided by the USK must also be displayed. The use of the graphic file supplied by the USK is recommended but not mandatory. Alternatively, the descriptors must be displayed perceptibly and in recognizable spatial proximity to the age rating at the “point of sale” (e.g., product page).
Storefronts that qualify as gaming platforms in the sense of § 14a (1) sentence 2 JuSchG are obliged under § 14a (1) sentences 2 and 3 JuSchG to ensure their responsibility that age rating symbols and associated descriptors are displayed perceptibly. Age ratings issued by the USK, including the associated descriptors, constitute legally compliant age ratings within the meaning of § 14a (1) sentence 2 no. 1 JuSchG. If a USK age rating has been given by the JuSchG, the USK rating must be indicated in the storefronts (cf. § 12 (2) sentence 4 JuSchG and § 12 JMStV). Here too, the use of the graphic file provided by the USK is recommended but not mandatory. Alternatively, the descriptors must be displayed perceptibly and in recognizable proximity to the age rating at the “point of sale” (e.g., product page).
In the context of storefronts, which are part of the IARC System, the age ratings and descriptors are displayed via the IARC System. For this purpose, it is necessary to communicate the issued USK certificates to the respective storefronts.
You can find a list of the costs under our cost overview.
You can find more information in our Publisher-FAQs.