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YouTube Partner Program update: Self-certification available to all monetizing channels

The ability to self-certify whether your video complies with the advertiser-friendly guidelines is now available to all channels in the YouTube Partner Program.  

YouTube's criteria are pretty clearly explained, which should make it less likely you'll be surprised when ads are limited. Just be aware that the criteria can change. For example, coronavirus-related content originally could not be monetized, and now it can

Update June 5, 2020: YouTube has updated the self-certification information in the help center with additional examples. 

If YouTube's automated systems disagree with your self-rating, your ads may be limited. If you think that's incorrect, you can submit your video for human review. 

YouTube recommends uploading videos you intend to monetize as unlisted. That way you can request a human review before you make your video public, if necessary. 

To see how well you have been doing, you can check your rating accuracy in YouTube Studio (

How YouTube Self-Certification Works

1. Upload a new video you want to monetize or turn on monetization for a video already uploaded to your channel. 

Self-certification is not available when you enable monetization on a live stream. 

2. You will be prompted to tell YouTube what is in your video

Depending on the options you select, it will indicate "Safe for ads" (green) or "Limited ads" (yellow).
Fill out the information as accurately as you can. YouTube explains why this is important, and what will happen if you intentionally misrepresent the content of your videos:

The more accurate your ratings are, the more we can rely on them when deciding which ads run on your videos. This can help you earn more revenue from ads.

Intentionally misrepresenting your content can lead to your channel being reviewed for YouTube Partner Program eligibility

This may look a bit complicated, but if your video doesn't contain any such content, you can scroll to the bottom of the list and select None of the above. 

Does your video have inappropriate language? 

You can specify whether your video has "light" profanity or "strong" profanity. 
  • Safe: Light profanity (like "hell" or "damn"); censored profanity in the title, thumbnail, or opening of the video; strong profanity (like the "f-word") after the opening; or strong profanity in a music video
  • Limited: Strong profanity in the title, thumbnail, or opening of a video; strong profanity in the title or thumbnail of a music video
Does your video have adult sexual content? 

You can rate the level of adult content from romance or kissing, to blurred or censored nudity, to full nudity and sexual acts.
  • Safe. Romance or kissing; discussions of romantic relationships or sexuality without reference to intercourse; moderately sexually suggestive content that may include limited clothing; sensual dancing, non-graphic sex education, or a music video containing sexual content without nudity
  • Limited. Blurred or censored nudity, even if used for education, news, or in other contexts; focus on sexual body parts (even if covered), discussions of intimate sexual experiences, implied sexual acts, sex toys without human contact or nudity, or realistic representations of genitalia
  • Limited: Exposed breasts or full nudity, sexual acts, animal mating, discussion of fetishes, or a video thumbnail with sexual content
Does your video include violence? 

You can rate the level of violence from mild, to injuries in sports, pranks or dramas, to severe real injury, including abuse of children or animals. 
  • Safe: Mild violence; injury without showing blood or graphic content; or dramatized violence as part of animation, comedy, drama, or music videos; violence that occurs as part of unedited video gameplay
  • Limited: Real injury or violence with blood shown as part of sports, accidents, pranks, “fails,” or animal videos; dramatized violence showing excessive blood and gore as part of animations, comedy, drama, or music videos; edited video gameplay with some clips that focus on graphic violence
  • Limited: Severe real injury, real death, harm to minors, or abuse of animals; depictions or discussions of sexual abuse or domestic violence; edited video gameplay that primarily focuses on graphic violence
I suppose it's not surprising that "discussion of sexual abuse or domestic violence" would get limited ads, but it is likely to disappoint creators who talk about their personal experiences on video. 

Does your video include harmful or dangerous acts?

Rate whether your video shows dangerous stunts or pranks, and whether it show physical harm or distress.
  • Safe: Stunts or acts that are slightly dangerous, but performed in a professional and controlled environment where no one is seriously injured
  • Limited: Content showing but not focusing on physical harm or distress, including acts done in a non-professional, non-controlled environment
  • Limited: Focus on accidents, pranks, or stunts that have health risks, like drinking or eating non-edibles; or discussions of trending videos that show this type of content
Does your video include drug-related content? 

Choose whether your video has educational content about drugs or shows drug consumption or abuse.
  • Safe: Education, statements, or humorous references about drugs or drug paraphernalia that do not glorify them; drugs in a music video
  • Limited: Content focusing on the display or effects of drug consumption; or the creation or distribution of drugs or drug paraphernalia in a comedy, documentary, news, or educational video
  • Limited: Content showing or discussing abuse, buying, making, selling, or finding of drugs or drug paraphernalia in a graphic and detailed way
Does your video include hateful content? 

Choose whether your video contains hurtful or hateful content. YouTube does distinguish between non-hurtful "comedic" references and advocating discrimination.
  • Safe: References to a marginalized group that are made in a non-hurtful manner as part of a public debate or comedic context
  • Limited: Content that may be offensive to a marginalized group but is used for education, news, or a documentary
  • Limited: Hate or discrimination toward a protected group based on race, age, or other natural characteristics
I expect this to be one of the more contentious categories, as some people seem to have trouble distinguishing between hurtful and non-hurtful content.

Does your video include firearms-related content? 

Choose whether your video shows hunting or other safe gun use, less safe gun use or promotes gun manufacture or sales. 
  • Safe: Hunting-related content or guns shown in a safe environment like a shooting range
  • Limited: Use of guns outside a controlled environment; display of homemade, 3D-printed, or previously modified guns; use of airsoft or ball bullet (BB) guns against others without protective gear
  • Limited: Content that shows gun creation or modification, promotes gun makers or sellers, or facilitates the sale of a gun, minors using guns without adult supervision
Does your video include sensitive issues?

This is is a catch-all category for content depicting recent events with terrorism, war, tragedy, or "controversial social issues". This is the COVID-19 content category.
  • Limited: Discussions of modern acts of terror, events resulting in the catastrophic loss of human life, or controversial social issues
  • Safe: Analysis of or opinion around serious and topical events not described above, such as COVID-19
This is another category where I suspect some people will have trouble self-assessing whether they are discussing "controversial" social issues or not. 

If your video does not include content in any of these categories, select None of the above.

3. Once you have finished providing information about your video content, click the Submit button.

4. YouTube's automated systems decide whether or not ads should be Limited on the video.

5. If you disagree with the automated systems decision, you can request a human review

6. The reviewer will check your video and provide feedback

7. Check your rating accuracy in YouTube Studio ( to see where you and the reviewer disagree. 
That will list all the videos you have self-rated, how your rating compares to YouTube's rating and whether the review was by a computer or a human. 

Note that you need to rate at least 20 videos or so before YouTube can calculate your accuracy. Until then, you will be able to see the status of the videos you have submitted for monetization. 

Once you have demonstrated that you can accurately rate your own videos, new videos can be monetized with little additional review.