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UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code)

The Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, who can take steps to remove or have amended any ads that breach these rules.

Download a full PDF version of the Code here (PDF).

Please remember that the Advertising Codes are kept up to date on a regular basis. If you plan to work from downloaded copies we strongly advise that you sign up to receive our newsletters, to make sure you’re aware of any changes.

You can also use our online version of the Codes, which helpfully links to Help Notes and other relevant sections of the Code.

  Section Description Online version Download
codes Introduction

Contains definitions of key terms used in the Code e.g. ‘broadcasters’, ‘audience’ etc. Also contains background information on the legal framework for broadcast advertising regulation.

online version download
General 01 Compliance

Information about pre-clearance. Rules relating to social responsibility; legality and legality. It also spells out that the ASA applies the Code in the spirit, as well as the letter.


online version download
maketing communications

02 Recognition of marketing communications 

Separation rules and content rules to ensure that ads are not mistaken for editorial. online version download
Misleading advertising 03 Misleading advertising

A key and extensive section of the Code, containing rules such as substantiation (evidence to prove claims); pricing; the use of the word ‘free’; availability of products, comparisons, testimonials and more.

online version download
harm and offense 04 Harm and offence

Rules to ensure that ads do not cause harm or serious or widespread offence.
Includes rules relating to loudness of TV ads; shock tactics, unsafe practices and photosensitive epilepsy.

online version download
Children 05 Children

Rules that must be followed if directing ads at children or featuring them. Includes rules about unsafe practices and unfair pressure; pester power and sales promotions for children.

online version download
privacy 06 Privacy

Rules about permissions for depicting – or referring to - living persons in ads, including members of the public and those with a public profile.

online version download


07 Political advertisements Ban on political advertising, including definitions on what is considered political. online version download
distance selling 08 Distance selling

Rules governing marketing communications that allow readers to place orders without face-to-face contact with the seller. Covers cancellation and refunds.

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09 Environmental claims Rules about making ‘green’ claims for products or services. Rules cover evidence, the clarity of claims and ‘life cycle’ of products.. online version download


10 Prohibited categories Lists products and services that are not permitted to be advertised on TV or radio at all. online version download

11 Medicines, medical devices, treatments and health


Use of health professionals; rules on evidence (very high level needed for medicinal claims); suitable qualifications for those claiming to treat or offer advice; medicines rules; herbal and homeopathic product rules. online version download


12 Weight control and slimming Rules for ads for weight control, slimming foodstuffs and aids, including exercise; diets, clinics and medicines. online version download



13 Food, food supplements and associated
health or nutritional claims
Rules relating to health and nutrition claims in foodstuffs; claims for vitamins and minerals; infant and follow on formula and food and soft drink advertising to children. online version download


14 Financial products, services and investments Rules for all financial advertisements, includes provisions on interest rates and, lending and credit. online version download


15 Faith, religion and equivalent systems of belief

Rules for advertising by, or on behalf of bodies that are wholly or mainly concerned with religion, faith and other belief systems. The rules also apply to ads by anybody for related products and services. online version download


16 Charities Includes rules around donation, including refunds. online version download
Gambling 17 Gambling

Social responsibility rules for gambling and spread betting. The rules cover content and targeting and are designed to protect under 18s and the vulnerable.

online version download
lotteries 18 Lotteries

Social responsibility rules that apply to lotteries (including The National Lottery; Gambling Commission licensed lotteries and locally registered lotteries)

online version download
Alcohol 19 Alcohol Social responsibility rules for alcoholic drinks. The rules are designed to protect under 18s and the wider population. online version download
motoring 20 Motoring Social responsibility rules for motor vehicles, covering safety, speed and irresponsible or anti-social driving behaviours. online version download
 Betting Tipsters 21 Betting tipsters Special rules to prevent betting tipsters from misleading the audience. online version download
 Telecoms 22 Premium-rate telephone services Rules covering pricing and content of ads that promote premium-rate telephone services. online version download
 Telecoms 23 Telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services Rules restricting where and when such advertisements can appear. online version download

24 Homework schemes


Rules restricting the nature of advertisements for homeworking schemes and to ensure they do not mislead. online version download
Training 25 Instructional courses Rules restricting those who can advertise such courses and ensuring they don’t mislead. online version download

26 Services offering individual advice on consumer or personal problems  

Requirements for suitable credentials for advertising. online version download
 Dating 27 Introduction and dating services Rules to prevent advertisements from causing harm, including to under 18s. online version download
 Competitions 28 Competitions Rule about fair and clear administration of competitions. online version download
 Private investigators 29 Private investigation agencies Requirements for suitable credentials for advertising. online version download
Pornography 30 Pornography Rules restricting the advertisement of R18-rated material online version download

31 Other categories of radio advertisements that require central copy clearance

Ads for adult products and services that require central copy clearance, including adult shops, stripograms 18+ media. online version download
 Scheduling 32 Scheduling Scheduling rules, including those related to children; age-restricted products. Separation / placement rules incl. political and those related to text and interactive advertisments. online version download
General Appendix 1: Statutory framework for the regulation of broadcast advertising

A full description of the advertising standards required by statute and the relationship between Ofcom, the ASA and BCAP. Includes information on statutory sanctions and overseas advertising.

online version download
codes Appendix 2: Statutory framework for the regulation of broadcast advertising

Excerpts from the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.


online version download
General Appendix 3: The CPRS and BPRs This section explains the law on misleading and unfair marketing communications. This law is reflected within the Code and the ASA has regard to the law when considering misleading, aggressive or unfair marketing communications. online version download

AdviceOnline Database

Help Notes

Check out our Help Notes for formal regulatory guidance on the application of the Advertising Codes.

Bespoke Copy Advice

Need fast, confidential advice on whether your ad campaign complies with the rules?