The honours system

1. Overview

The honours system recognises people who have:

  • made achievements in public life
  • committed themselves to serving and helping Britain

They’ll usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.

Civilian gallantry awards recognise bravery by people who have attempted to or saved the life of a British citizen who isn’t a family member or close friend. Nominations are judged on:

  • degree of risk
  • how aware the nominee was of the danger
  • persistence

Whether someone gets an honour - and the honour they get - is decided by an honours committee. The committee’s decisions go to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honour.

Who can nominate someone for an honour

Anyone can nominate someone for an honour.

The forms to use and where to send them depend on whether the person you want to nominate is in the UK or overseas.

The person must still be actively involved in what you’re nominating them for.

If you nominate someone for an honour

The honours committee will review your nomination.

You’ll get an acknowledgment - but 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).

What people get honours for

People get honours for achievements like:

  • making a difference to their community or field of work
  • enhancing Britain’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
  • 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
  • civil or political service

Group nominations

You can only nominate individuals for honours.

You can nominate a volunteer group for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.