This article examines the relationship between exceptionalism and nationhood in media classification. The history of age-ratings is an international one, and the present challenges associated with digital media circulation are similarly international. We argue that the nation nevertheless provides an appropriate frame for understanding age-rating by attending to the ways national agencies have struggled to articulate the specificity of their work based on the specificity of domestic constituencies. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, our central examples include the resistance of the Motion Picture Association of America to age-based film classification, the British Board of Film Classification’s examination of American films in the 1980s, contemporary Japanese videogame regulation, and the emergence of the International Age Rating Coalition. We argue that national exceptionalism is itself generalised and that media content regulation is less about producing national culture than about laying claim to a nation by differentiation.