MBE Nomination Advice – The Nuts & Bolts

Or – what do I need to know about the MBE nomination process, in plain language – our best nomination advice. (The same things apply to all the awards – OBE, CBE, Knighthood etc. although the House of Lords is quite different.)

So in no particular order, here are the 10 things we thing you should know – explained in the Bayleaf style of useful and direct and of course, without the four-figure price tag that you may have been quoted elsewhere!

  1. There is a single application form for all of the awards. As nominator, you don’t choose what you apply for. You submit the information that the Government request, and they decide on the award level (if any) which has been earned. You can find more detail on each Honour here .
  2. The criteria for who is awarded what level of honour is not an exact science and the purists and pedants might disagree with our simplistic “rule of thumb”, but
    • MBE (Member) – Local Impact
    • OBE (Officer) – National Impact
    • CBE (Commander) – International Impact
  3. You CAN nominate yourself (sort of). (We’ll post in more detail on this later.) Technically, you cannot be the official nominator on the form – but find a friend or family member who is willing to give you an email address and there is no reason why you can’t instigate the nomination. Ignore the scare stories telling you otherwise.
  4. There is no rejection process – you either receive a letter telling you that you have been awarded an Honour, or you hear nothing. After 3 years of hearing nothing, you can assume it’s a rejection. (This is one of many reasons why we don’t trumpet our percentage success rate anywhere – if you don’t know who was not successful, how can you take credit for those which have?)
  5. It takes 18 months minimum to evaluate the application, usually 2 years. Remember – there are only two announcements per year too, so that can add time to the process.
MBE Nomination Map
  1. There are nine committees which assess the nomination before recommending acceptance to the main committee – or rejecting. These nine committees are related to specialist fields and are made up of experts in those fields. The committees are
    • Arts & Media
    • Community & Voluntary
    • Economy
    • Education
    • Health
    • Parliamentary & Political Service
    • Science & Technology
    • Sport
    • State
  2. Around 75% of all awards are given for some form of “giving back” – voluntary work, community contribution, charity work. If you are not demonstrating contribution in this area, or in one of the sectors where Honours are awarded as part of the job (eg Civil Service), then it will be an uphill battle to receive an MBE or other honour.
  3. Anything which you have done which has brought you personal benefits (eg starting a company) probably won’t win you a honour, unless you have used that stature or wealth to help others. The way the committee see it – you have had your reward already.
  4. If your work is in the published priority areas, you stand a better chance of receiving an award. Currently, these are
    • create jobs and economic activity across the country, and support a global, outward-looking Britain;
    • support children and young people to achieve their potential, whatever their background;
    • aid social mobility, enhancing life opportunities and removing barriers to success;
    • give their time to improve their local community;​ ​and
    • work to tackle discrimination in all its forms.
  5. Be specific in everything you write. Honours aren’t awarded for personality, but for results and efforts. You are not writing a eulogy or an article, but something more like a CV where concise use of compelling facts is key.

So there it is – the Bayleaf list of things that we think it’s good for you to know.


Of course, we have all these best practices and more embedded in our business and can help you maximise the chances of success with your MBE or other Honours Nomination. From writing the full application to our DIY Service (where you write the application yourself with our behind the scenes support), this is our specialism.

If you have any questions or need advice, drop a comment below, or follow us on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

knighthood, MBE nomination, obe nomination, queens honours nomination

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