Honours

The honours system recognises people who have:

  • made achievements in public life 

  • committed themselves to serving and helping the country

They’ll usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do. Whether someone gets an honour - and the honour they get - is decided by an honours committee. The committee’s recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honour.

The most well-known honours are probably MBEs and OBEs, but these are just a few of the titles that may be awarded. There are currently six different Orders of Chivalry and two Orders of Merit into which people might be invested at various levels, known as ranks. Awards for gallantry and distinguished service can also be presented to members of the Armed Forces and the Emergency Services. A list of Honours, recognising outstanding achievements, personal bravery and services to the UK and British Overseas Territories, is published twice a year - at New Year in June to mark The Queen's official birthday. Lists of honours are published on the UK Government website, in the Edinburgh Gazette and in national news outlets.

People get honours for achievements such as:

  • making a difference to their community or field of work,

  • enhancing the country's reputation,

  • long-term voluntary service,

  • innovation and entrepreneurship,

  • changing things, with an emphasis on achievement,

  • improving life for people less able to help themselves, and

  • displaying moral courage

Honours are given to people involved in fields including:

  • community, voluntary and local services,

  • arts and media,

  • health,

  • sport,

  • education,

  • science and technology,

  • business and the economy, and

  • civil or political service

How do I nominate someone for an Honour?


Nominations for honours are welcomed from members of the public. You may submit a nomination at any time. Receipt of your nomination will be acknowledged within 28 days, but it is not possible to provide any further information, or progress reports, on your nomination.

You can nominate someone for an honour online through this link - www.gov.uk/honours/nominate-someone-in-the-uk which also gives guidance on how to write the nomination. Assistance is also available from the Scottish Government by emailing protocolandhonours@gov.scot. The forms and guidance are UK wide and nominations can be made online, or to the UK Cabinet Office, whose address appears on the nomination form.

You will need to write a detailed description explaining why you’re nominating the individual. You’ll also need:

  • your nominee’s name, age, address and contact details

  • details of relevant work or volunteering they’ve done

  • details of any awards or other recognition they’ve received

  • 2 supporting letters to back up your nomination - these should be from people who know the nominee personally.

Questions commonly asked about Honours

Should I tell the person that I have nominated them? - No. It is not fair to raise a nominee’s expectations in case they are disappointed.

Do I have to say what sort of honour I think is due? - No. The Honours Secretariat will determine that for you.

How long will the process take? - You will receive an acknowledgement of your nomination. Thereafter you may not hear anything else for 12 to 18 months. All nominees will be checked by various government departments to make sure they’re suitable for an honour. This may include checks by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The honours committee reviews those nominations that are sent to it.

May I nominate someone who is no longer involved in the activity(ies) I wish to see recognised? - Yes, but generally speaking only if they ceased their involvement within the past six months (further information will be found on the official nomination form).

How will I know if my nomination is successful? - If your nominee is successful his or her name will appear in the list published in the national lists at the New Year or on The Queen’s Official Birthday (June).

British Empire Medal
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Commander of the Order of the ritish Empire