Since around August 2009, Thailand has enacted a motion-picture ratings system, which is designed to replace the censorship regime that had been in place since 1930. The ratings are as follows:
- Category 1: Promote (Rated P) – For films that the censorship board feels should be promoted as educational for everyone to see. Symbolized by the smiley face.
- Category 2: General (Rated G) – Appropriate for viewers of any age. Symbolized by a house.
- Category 3: 13+ – Appropriate for viewers aged 13 and older.
- Category 4: 15+ – Appropriate for viewers aged 15 and older.
- Category 5: 18+ – Appropriate for viewers aged 18 and older.
- Category 6: 20- – Restricted. Viewers under age 20 not admitted. ID checks mandatory.
The age ratings 13+ to 18+ are advisory only and younger viewers are still admitted.
There is also the hidden seventh category, for banned films that are deemed inappropriate or harmful to national security.
Prior to the ratings system, which is administered by the Culture Ministry, the Royal Thai Police were in charge of censorship under a 1930 law. Their rules were enforced inconsistently, but generally took a dim view on sex and nudity, and the scenes deemed offensive would be smudged out or clumsily chopped with scissors. Sometimes violent scenes and instances of drug use would be pixellated or smudged like on Thai television, but not always.
With the ratings system, foreign films are generally not censored any longer.
Thai films continue to be subject to censorship, primarily for political reasons in the interest of national security. Under the new process, the Thai films that are censored and make it to the big screen have gone through a vetting process and are edited by the filmmakers, so most audiences will be unaware of the behind-the-scenes censorship dealings.