1. Home
  2. How to nominate
  3. Nomination guidance

Nomination guidance

Find out how the nomination process works and tips on what to include.

Thinking about making a nomination
Letters of support
Confidentiality
Frequently asked questions
After submitting a nomination
Probity and propriety checks
Honours leaflets

Thinking about making a nomination

Anyone can nominate somebody by completing a nomination form and sending relevant information. 

Only one person can be nominated on a nomination form. If you want to nominate a group consider whether another award is more appropriate. Nominations for couples or partners need to be on separate forms with separate supporting letters but can have the same content. A covering letter or email can be attached to confirm these nominations are linked and should be considered together.

Nominations can be sent using the online form, as well as email and in the post. You should not duplicate nominations and send them in different forms. 

Please do not send personal photos, certificates, CDs/DVDs or any other personal objects. We can not guarantee that they will be returned to you. 

Please do not send the nomination in hard folders, books, USB sticks etc. All nominations are scanned and processed electronically. 

Nomination details should be as accurate as possible. 

Please try to avoid using staples. 

If sending a nomination by email, please do not use zip folders. 

Please complete the nomination form completely and accurately, following the instructions in each section. It is important that you provide as much information as possible about your nominee. Don’t just list jobs or posts held: try instead to explain what their actual contribution or impact has been.

All nominations for honours are treated in the strictest confidence. The nominee should not be told that they have been nominated, as it is not fair to raise their expectations.

Letters of support

Each nomination needs at least two support letters. There is no maximum or preferred number of letters but letters that repeat the same information are not accepted. A letter should be around a page long and detail what’s in the nomination.

Anyone who knows or has experienced the work of the nominee can write a support letter. The nominator can not send a support letter. These letters should be written by people who know the nominee and can endorse their contributions. 

Support letters may be sent by email, if doing so, please make sure you include the details of the supporter who has written the letter while also including the nominee’s full name subject line.

Letters of support can only be accepted if they were written within two years of the nomination being submitted.

Letters of support could be from:

  • A senior person from your candidate’s organisation or community.
  • High profile members of the community: MPs; Councillors.
  • Someone who regularly works with your candidate.

Letters of support need to:

  • Confirm that the person is doing what they are being nominated for;
  • Confirm that an honour would be supported by the community;
  • Include significant, recent achievements;
  • Describe the impact that the person has had.

Confidentiality

You can talk to anyone you want about making an honours nomination except for the person you are nominating. The nominee must not know that they are under consideration. Please make sure that your conversations are confidential and every care must be taken to ensure that you hold personal information safely and securely.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, the honours system is exempt from the usual requirement under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to inform someone that you hold and are processing their personal data. This is outlined in the honours system privacy notice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I nominate someone for an honour?

Anybody can make a nomination. You’ll need to write a detailed description explaining why you’re nominating them which contains; the nominee’s name, age, address and contact details, details of relevant work or volunteering they’ve done, any awards or other recognition they’ve received and two supporting letters to backup your nomination. These should be from people who know the nominee personally.

You can include any evidence you have of recognition your nominee has received for their achievements, for example articles, photos or letters.

How long does it take?

A successful nomination submitted by a member of the public will take, on average, between a year and two years to go through the full process because of the need to validate the claims in the nomination. But it will vary depending on the activity involved and how much information is in the nomination papers. 

Thorough consideration is given to all honours nominations.

Who deserves an honour?

Honours recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements. There are always fewer honours than people who deserve them and because they are rare, they should be reserved for people:

  • who have changed things especially by solid, practical achievement;
  • whose work has brought distinction to British life or enhanced the UK’s reputation
  • in their area or activity.

After submitting a nomination

  • You can get in touch with us via phone or by email. You can call us on 020 7276 2777 anytime between 9am – 5pm. You can email us at honours@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
  • Honours are given to people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to their community. The number of honours available is strictly limited and therefore, however valuable their service, unfortunately not everyone can receive recognition in this way. It is important to realise that an honour will not automatically follow a submission. You do not need to suggest the type and level of award – these will be determined when the nomination is assessed. Most awards are made in the Order of the British Empire at Member (MBE) level or for a British Empire Medal (BEM).
  • Honours lists are published at New Year and on the occasion of The Sovereign’s Birthday. There are no deadlines for the receipt of nomination forms, but their consideration is likely to take at least 12 to 18 months. This is because of the background work needed to assess a nomination. So you should not try to nominate a person for a specific honours list. Nominators will need to check published lists (in the London Gazette, national newspapers or on GOV.UK) to see if their nominee is successful.
  • You may send additional information to support the nomination at any time. We will ensure that it is considered with the existing papers. The Honours and Appointments Secretariat should also be advised if there has been any important change to the information supplied on the nomination form, such as the home address of the nominee. You can ring or email the Honours and Appointments Secretariat at any time for an update on your nomination.
  • You must notify the Honours and Appointments Secretariat immediately if your nominee dies, as it is not possible to award an honour posthumously.
  • Nominations should be made while the nominee is still active and, if possible, at least 12 months before he/she is expected to retire or stand down, because of the time needed to assess their contribution.
  • If, after two years, your nominee has not been successful you can assume the nomination has lapsed. You may re-nominate them. 

Probity and propriety checks

The Honours and Appointments Secretariat in the Cabinet Office coordinates the operation of the honours system. It provides administrative support to the independent honours committees that consider nominations.

The integrity of the honours system is protected by the carrying out of probity checks with a number of government departments before names are submitted to the Prime Minister and The Queen for approval.

As part of this vetting process, the Honours and Appointments Secretariat may ask HMRC to advise about any potential risk posed to the government and the Crown by honours candidates in respect of their tax affairs, by reference to a low, medium or high rating. Checks are requested on a proportionate basis, taking account of the level of the honour and the profile of the individual.

The Memorandum of Understanding which details the legal basis on which HMRC share information with the Cabinet Office is publicly available on GOV.UK.

The Main Honours Committee will take the risk rating from HMRC into account, with other information, to reach a decision about whether to recommend the award of an honour to an individual. These figures relate to people under consideration for an honour, not the final recipients of honours.

Where the number of ratings provided by HMRC is equal to or less than 5, the information has been withheld by HMRC under the exemption at Section 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which applies when the information is prohibited from disclosure under any enactment.

In this instance, the relevant enactment is section 23(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA).

The effect of section 23 is to prohibit HMRC from disclosing information held in connection with its functions which would specify the identity of a person or enable the identity of person to be deduced.

Honours leaflets

Honours leaflet in Arabic (PDF, 2 pages – 2.7MB)

Honours leaflet in Bengali (PDF, 2 pages – 2.7MB)

Honours leaflet in Chinese (PDF, 2 pages – 3MB)

Honours leaflet in English (PDF, 2 pages – 8.5MB)

Honours leaflet in Gujurati (PDF, 2 pages – 2.7MB)

Honours leaflet in Polish (PDF, 2 pages – 2.7MB)

Honours leaflet in Punjabi (PDF, 2 pages – 3MB)

Honours leaflet in Urdu (PDF, 2 pages – 2.7MB)