National Orders

The FPS Foreign Affairs is responsible for awarding distinctions in the national orders to deserving foreign citizens and Belgians living abroad.

FAQ about National Orders

Frequently asked questions about National Orders.
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1. An application for the award of a distinction in the National Orders has to be submitted to which body (Federal Public Service/Ministry)?

The application must be submitted rationae materiae (and/or personae) to:

Each Federal Public Service or Ministry is responsible for awarding decorations to its own public servants (for more information, please contact the relevant Human Ressources department).

  • Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs: foreign nationals, Belgians living abroad;
  • the Ministries of the Communities (federated level): culture, education, sport, academies (person-related matters);
  • the Chancellery of the Prime Minister: for the above-mentioned person-related matters, but for matters concerning the national (federal) level (not merely community-based matters) and for social or philanthropic merits, cultural associations;
  • National defence: military, members of the armed resistance, war volunteers;
  • the Veterans' Institute: war invalids, veterans and war victims;
  • Federal Public Service of Home Affairs: police, firefighters;
  • the Regional Ministries (federated level): only regional matters /OCMW-CPAS (+ German speaking-community);
  • Municipalities and provinces;
  • Federal Public Service of Justice: magistrates, lawyers;
  • Federal Public Service of Finance: banks and financial institutions;
  • Federal Public Service of Labour and Employment: employees and labourers (private sector);
  • Federal Public Service of Economy, SME, Middle Classes and Energy:
    - executive staff of large corporations,
    - farmers,
    - SME and Middle Classes (self-employed, executive staff of SMEs);
  • Public Health: doctors and medical and paramedical professions.
     

2. Does the award of a decoration in the National Orders entitle the holder to any financial advantage or privileges?

Decorations in the Belgian National Orders do not entitle the holder to any privileges or (financial) advantages.

There are some exceptions for categories of military staff (see the book by René Cornet: "De Belgische Nationale Orden").
 

3. Where can I find more information on the beneficiaries of distinctions in the National Orders?

Information on the beneficiaries of a distinction in the National Orders can be obtained by contacting the following persons. All enqueries should be sent by e-mail, stating the surname, first name, date and place of birth and, if applicable, the national registration number.


4. Is the refusal of a distinction irrevocable?

In accordance with Article 9 of the Law of 1 May 2006 on the award of honorary distinctions in the National Orders, the refusal of an honorary distinction is irrevocable. This means that the person concerned can no longer be nominated for appointment or promotion in these Orders.
 

5. Can a distinction be awarded posthumously?

The exercise of a professional activity without special and dangerous circumstances cannot be awared with a posthumous distinction.

In accordance with Article 10 of the Law of 1 May 2006, a civil or military decoration can be awarded posthumously for reasons of war or if the person concerned has died either in carrying out dangerous assignments in the service of the country, or in providing help to a friend or relative, thus showing courage and self-sacrifice.
 

6. Does awarding an honorary distinction also follow the awarding of a decoration?

No. When an honorary distinction is awarded, the beneficiary only receives a certificate.
 

7. Where can a decoration be obtained?

Decorations, ornaments, rosettes, etc. are available from specialised firms, whose details are listed in the Yellow Pages under the section "Medals - Awards".

Details of major suppliers:  

  • P. DEGREEF Medailles
    Boulevard Emile Jacqmain / Emile Jacqmainlaan, 131
    1000 Brussels
    Tel          00-32-2/511.75.18
    Fax         00-32-2/514.59.90
    E-mail    info@p-degreef.com
     
  • Michiels Ixelles nv
    Rue Victor Greyson / Victor Greysonstraat, 91
    1050 Brussels
    Tel.: 02/640 97 42
    Fax: 02/646 35 17
    e-mail: info@michiels-ixelles.be
     
  • Fibru Europ
    Rue Edmond Rostand / Edmond Rostandstraat, 59
    1070 Brussels
    Tel.: 02/521 00 88
    Fax: 02/521 50 30
    e-mail: info@fibru.com
     

8. What is a labour distinction?

A labour distinction is awarded to persons who put their knowledge, talent, dedication, skill and their ideals at the service of labour. These are not National Orders.

The labour distinction consists of two classes:

1° second class labour distinction: awarded after 25 years of work;
2° first class labour distinction: awarded after 30 years of work

This distinction is also awarded to:

The initiative for applying for a distinction is usually taken by the employer.

  • private sector workers employed under an employment contract.
  • contractual staff from the public sector.
  • artisans (only for the first class labour distinction)
     

9. What is a certificate?

The certificate is a document drawn up in Dutch, French or German, which is signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is the official certificate issued to the beneficiary who has been awarded a decoration in the National Orders.
 

10. What are the hierarchical ranks of the National Orders?

The bronze medal in the Order of Leopold II is the lowest distinction, the Grand Ribbon in the Order of Leopold is the highest.

The hierarchical ranks of the National Orders are as follows:

  • Grand Ribbon in the Order of Leopold
  • Grand Cross in the Order of the Crown
  • Grand Cross in the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Grand Officer in the Order of Leopold
  • Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown
  • Grand Officer in the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Commander in the Order of Leopold
  • Commander in the Order of the Crown
  • Commander in the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Officer in the Order of Leopold
  • Officer in the Order of the Crown
  • Officer in the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Knight in the Order of Leopold
  • Knight in the Order of the Crown
  • Knight in the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Golden Palm of the Order of the Crown
  • Silver Palm of the Order of the Crown
     
  • Gold Medal of the Order of the Crown
  • Gold Medal of the Order of Leopold II
     
  • Silver Medal of the Order of the Crown
  • Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II
      
  • Bronze Medal of the Order of the Crown
  • Bronze Medal of the Order of Leopold II
     

11. Which National Orders are there?

The National Orders are:

These orders feature the ranks of Knight, Officer, Commander and Grand Officer, and the titles Grand Cross in the Order of Leopold II and the Order of the Crown, and Grand Ribbon in the Order of Leopold.

There are also Palms and Medals.

In the Order of Leopold, there are civil, military and maritime distinctions.

  • The Order of Leopold (established in 1832),
  • The Order of the Crown (established in 1897),
  • The Order of Leopold II (established in 1900).
     

12. What are the award criteria for an honorary distinction in the National Orders?

Since 1 May 2006, the general award conditions have been laid down in the of Law of 1 May 2006 on the award of honorary distinctions in the National Orders, published in the Belgian Official Journal of 24 October 2006. This is a general law that applies to all award regulations: whether or not a civil servant, awarding on the basis of regulation or as a contingent.

In addition, the award of honorary distinctions is also governed by various regulations specific to the different authorities, institutions and their staff. These rules take into account the career of the persons concerned and the equivalence between the award levels in relation to different careers.
 

13. Who is competent to award honorary distinctions?

Any member of the government may make a proposal to award a distinction to persons whose activities fall within its sphere of competence.

The member of the government responsible for awarding a distinction for a specific function or activity remains competent for the beneficiary in so far as it relates to an honouring of this function or activity, even if the distinction is awarded after the termination of the function or activity.