Honours are given to people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to their community. There are several different types of award, each one recognising a different type of contribution. Anyone can be nominated but only exceptional people are honoured.
Honours lists are published twice a year, at New Year and in mid-June on The Queen's official birthday.
Anyone can receive an award if they reach the required standard of merit or service. The list contains a wide variety of people from different backgrounds.
You can find the most recent Northern Ireland list at these links:
You can find previous lists of UK honours, including Northern Ireland recipients, on The London Gazette's website.
Nominate someone for an honour
Anyone can nominate someone for an award. There is no deadline to nominate but it will take at least 12 to 18 months for your nomination to be considered. This means you can’t nominate someone for a particular list.
Neither can you nominate someone for a specific honour. The type of honour they receive will be decided by the honours committee.
Before you make your nomination, ask yourself the following questions. Has your nominee:
- made a difference to their community or field of work
- exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service
- shown innovation and entrepreneurship
- carried the respect of their peers
- changed things, with an emphasis on achievement
- improved the lives of those most in need
- displayed moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices
Nominations should be made while the nominee is still working and, if possible, at least 12 months before they are expected to retire or stand down.
If you're nominating someone who lives in Great Britain, or their work is in Great Britain, visit Nominate someone in the UK
Completing the nomination form
To nominate you’ll need to:
- complete the nomination form
- provide at least two letters of support
You can download the nomination form and guidance notes at this link:
You should read the guidance notes carefully and complete the form as fully as possible, giving as much information on the nominee’s work and achievements as you can.
Letters of support must be written by at least two other people, who can support the nomination you are making. They must have firsthand knowledge of the nominee and the contribution they have made to the community.
If you are writing a letter of support, you may find the following booklet useful:
Sending your nomination
If the person you are nominating lives in Northern Ireland, or their work or service relates to Northern Ireland, you should return the nomination form to the Northern Ireland Honours Secretariat. You can send it by post or email.
You can also check on the progress of your nomination by contacting the Honours Secretariat.
You can find contact details at this link:
Nominations process explained
Honours committees are looking for someone who has made a difference in their field of work or community. Honours can be awarded for all sorts of work, paid or unpaid.
Your nominee must still be involved in the activity for which they are nominated.
There are two routes by which people enter the honours nomination system:
- nomination by an individual or a public/ private sector organisation
- submission by a government department
Nomination forms sent directly to the Honours Secretariat are sifted and checked. Cases are referred to the relevant government department for them to consider. Comments and feedback may also be sought from the relevant Lord Lieutenant.
Northern Ireland cases are assessed by an internal committee and then submitted to Cabinet Office.
Once the case reaches Cabinet Office it is considered by a specialist sub-committee. Each sub-committee reviews nominations for people involved in a specific activity, such as arts and media, education or sport.
Similar candidates from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are submitted together so that each committee may compare like with like.
The sub-committee assessments are then sent to the main selection committee. The main committee considers the balance of the proposals and forwards its recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary who, in turn gives the list to the Prime Minister for submission to The Queen.
Once The Queen has given her informal approval, letters are then sent to each nominee asking them whether they would be willing to accept the proposed award.
Once they have replied a final list is submitted to The Queen for formal approval.
The list is published in The London Gazette. The Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood at St James's Palace arranges investitures for the successful candidates.
Types of honours and award
There are different types of award.
Companions of Honour
The Companions of Honour is awarded for a major, influencing contribution to a particular field over a long period of time. The Order is given to men and women for recognised services of national importance.
Knight or Dame
Awarded for a major contribution in any field, through achievement or service to the community, usually but not only at national level. The recipient’s service and achievements will be recognised by peer groups as inspirational and significant nationally and will show a long standing commitment.
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Awarded for a prominent national role of a lesser degree than that of a Knight/Damehood or a leading role at regional level. Also awarded for making a highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity.
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Awarded for a distinguished regional or county-wide role in any field through achievement or service to the community, this includes people whose work had made them known nationally.
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Awarded for significant achievement or exceptional service to the community. Also awarded for very local 'hands-on' service which stands out as an example to others.
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Reintroduced in 2012, the BEM rewards a sustained, local contribution or innovative, high-impact work during a short time (three to four years).
Police, Fire and Ambulance Service Medals
Awarded for exceptional service to the police, fire or ambulance service.
You can find out more about the different honours at this link: