Applying for a medal: the Ministry of Defence Medal Office
The MOD Medal Office issues medals authorised by Her Majesty to British service personnel and veterans for presentation to the recipients.
The majority of service personnel receive campaign medals awarded to them while they are still in the armed forces, as they are required to be worn for ceremonial duty and other functions for which their uniform is required.
However, if an individual leaves the armed forces before the medal can be issued, it is their responsibility to claim them from the MOD Medal Office.
As a result, there are still many veterans who have not received the medals to which they are entitled. By far the largest group of veterans are those who were in the armed forces during World War 2. These historic medal claims form a large proportion of the work of the MOD Medal Office.
Claims for medals for service in the Home Guard are also dealt with by the MOD Medal Office.
Types of medals
The term ‘official’ describes any medal authorised by the Queen, or her predecessors. Only these medals are allowed to be worn on a service uniform.
Commemorative medals are those which have been produced by organisations or private medal companies to commemorate particular branches of service or areas of operations.
These are not issued by the MOD Medal Office and may be purchased from the private medal company that produces them or from a reputable medal dealer.
The Royal British Legion or other veterans associations may also be able to offer you further advice should you wish to purchase commemorative medals which cover your time or areas of service.
Examples of popular commemorative medals are:
- National Service Medal
- Allied Ex-Prisoners of War Medal
- Dunkirk Medal
- British Forces Germany Medal
Visit the Veterans UK website for details about the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge.
British medals policy: how medals are instituted
For campaign service or an emergency situation, the process starts when the senior Commander in the field considers that the operational situation is deserving of medallic recognition. His recommendation is passed to Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) for their consideration. If it gains support at this level the submission is passed to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).
If CDS approves the proposal, the Defence Services Secretary submits the case to the Honours and Decorations Committee, through the Ceremonial Officer of the Cabinet Office. The Honours and Decorations Committee is a sub committee of the cabinet. If it also supports the case for a medal the submission is presented to Her Majesty the Queen for approval. This process can take up to 2 years.
How to claim a medal
Serving personnel should always apply for medals through their Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army or Royal Air Force units and consult their admin staff with any medals queries.
Visit the Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility page to find out if you’re eligible for a campaign medal.
World War 1 medals
After World War 1, all campaign medals were automatically issued to the medal earner or, if deceased, to the next of kin. The MOD Medal Office is not able to provide replacement World War 1 medals. You can purchase replicas or original named medals from a reputable medal dealer or a private medal company.
Records of the medals awarded to each serviceman are held in the National Archives at Kew and are available to the public. For a small fee these medal cards can be viewed online at the National Archives website. See The National Archives guide: British military campaign and service medals for more information.
World War 2 and other medals
Veterans can claim any medals which may be due, in writing to the Medal Office. (See Contacting the Medal Office for the full address).
You will need to provide as much of the following information as possible:
- service number
- regiment/corps (British Army/Royal Marines)
- branch/trade (Royal Air Force and Royal Navy)
- full name
- date of birth
- date of discharge
- your current name and address
Alternatively, you may download, print and complete the MOD medal application form.
What happens after you’ve applied for your medal(s)
Once your application has been received, The Medal Office will acknowledge your application in writing. A full assessment of your entitlement to any medals will then take place using your original record of service.
We cannot confirm how long individual medal assessments will take as this is a skilled and time consuming task requiring a close reading of the original record of service and often complex regulations. It is important that each case is assessed accurately to ensure that each individual receives the medals to which they are entitled.
The MOD Medal Office assesses applications strictly in order of receipt, with only 1 exception. For veterans aged 90 or over, or for those with a terminal illness, the MOD Medal Office will process your application as a matter of priority.
If this applies to you, please write to the MOD Medal Office bringing this to their attention and, in the case of terminal illness, enclose a doctor’s note.
As part of the aim to award medals to surviving veterans or their spouses during their lifetimes, the Medal Office is also currently prioritising applications for veterans or their spouses ahead of applications from second generation next of kin.
Once the full assessment has been completed, you will then be issued with your medal(s).
The Medal office does not provide brooches on which to hang medals. This allows the recipient to add the medal(s) to any that are already held, or to have the medal(s) mounted for wear or display in a style of their choosing.
Brooch bars to mount medals for wear may be obtained in the appropriate length for the number of medals to be displayed from any military tailor or medal dealer. Details of local tailors or dealers are available online, in local directories or local press.
Entitlement to receive medals
Veterans of foreign armed forces who now live in the UK are advised to write to the embassy of their country. You can find their addresses or telephone numbers from a directory enquiries service or online.
Service veterans and those who are applying on behalf of a living veteran/serviceperson, or applying on behalf of a deceased veteran/serviceperson should complete the MOD medal application form and return it to the address stated on the form.
Merchant Navy personnel who served during World War 2 and as part of post-war operations or campaigns may be eligible to receive campaign medals.
Applications should be made in writing to:
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Once you have received your medal
All medals are engraved with the substantive rank held by the recipient on the date of qualification, not that rank which may have been attained prior to leaving the service. When assessing each case and calculating the date of qualification, the rank record from the record of service is also checked to ensure that the correct substantive rank is engraved on the medal.
However, the ‘Defence medal’, the ‘1939 to 45 War medal’ and the campaign stars awarded for service during World War 2, are not engraved with the details of the recipient. The decision not to engrave these medals was laid out in the original regulations relating to World War 2 medals and are still followed.
If once you have received your medals, you feel that you are entitled to other medals, you can challenge the entitlement that has been provided by writing to the MOD Medal Office and give the following details:
- your service number
- your full name
- your full current address
- the reference number from your first application
The Medal Office will only re-issue replacement medals from World War 2 and onwards to service veterans, or if deceased, the next of kin who holds the medals. The Medal Office is unable to replace medals issued before World War 2, such as World War I medals, under any circumstances.
A replacement medal will only be issued (at a cost to the medal recipient), where the loss is completely outside the individual’s control in such instances as:
- street theft
- house fire
To claim for replacement medals under these circumstances, you should provide in writing:
- details of the incident (ie. burglary, fire etc)
- supporting contemporary evidence from the time of loss (a copy of a successful insurance claim, or a Police crime report which contains reference to the loss of the medals
If these criteria are met then the Medal Office can issue replacement medals but please note that there will still be a charge for the medals. The Medal Office will also check official records to confirm that the medals requested had been awarded to you or your relative.
Neither a crime reference number alone or a lost property report is sufficient evidence to support the claim for replacement medals.
Postal enquiries about medals should be sent to the address below:
MOD Medal Office
Telephone enquiries for the Medal Office are answered by the Joint Personnel Administration Centre (JPAC) Enquiry Centre full contact details are below. The JPAC is split between 2 sites, Glasgow and Gosport. This allows the Medal Office staff to concentrate on the assessing medal entitlements.
The enquiry centre will be able to answer most questions. Any enquiries that the JPAC cannot answer will be forwarded to the Medal Office for resolution.
Please note that if you have the ‘Caller Protection’ facility on your telephone, which blocks calls from unknown numbers and switchboards, then the Medal Office would be unable to call you back. If you use this facility, please advise the staff at the enquiry centre when discussing your query.
Joint Personnel Administration Centre (JPAC)
JPAC Enquiry Centre
Mail Point 465
65 Brown Street
Serving personnel enquiries: 0141 224 3600
Freephone (UK only): 0800 085 3600
From overseas civilians: +44 141 224 3600
Military: 94560 3600
Fax: 0141 224 3586