Frequently asked questions

Applying for medals

How do I apply for my medals?

Using our Defence Medals Application Form, you can easily apply for medals online.

Current serving members should not need to apply for medals as they will be picked up in Nominal Rolls and PMKeyS Reports.

Former serving members are encouraged to apply online to ensure that they have their full medal entitlement.

Can I apply for my deceased relative’s medals?

Yes. Defence recognises that the immediate family members of a deceased member may request the issue of unissued service awards.

Medals for deceased veterans which have never been issued, may be issued to the appropriate next of kin. Apply online via the Defence Medals Application Form.

Persons listed below in the immediate family of the deceased member are entitled to be granted unissued awards.

This list is in descending priority of entitlement.

  • Spouse/de-facto spouse (Relationship to the member at time of death)
  • Child
  • Grand child
  • Parent
  • Sibling

See Granting of Unissued Service Awards of Deceased Members for more information.

Can I apply for the unissued medals of a deceased member, although I’m not related to them?

Any persons who are not listed as an immediate family member can apply for special consideration for the granting of unissued awards. Applicants must provide a statement that fully described their justification for the claim. Examples of circumstances that might apply include:

  • That no member of the immediate family remains;
  • The applicant holds the deceased original medals by gift or bequest; and
  • An institution such as an approved museum, an orphanage or school, that may have been bequeathed or gifted the medals.

What awards can be applied for?

  • Campaign awards
  • Service medals
  • Replacement medals
  • Foreign awards administered by the Department of Defence
  • Approval to wear Foreign Awards

How can I access Service Records?

Defence Archives manages the storage, archiving and retrieval of service records (both personal and health) for discharged members in Defence Archives custody.

See the Defence Archives webpage for more information.

Receiving medals

When will I receive my medals?

From the time of application to receiving your awards can take from three to six months, depending on the complexity of the application and the number of applications received. There is often a longer delay around Anzac Day, when the number of applications surges.

Medals are dispatched through Australia Post by Parcel Post to the address provided within your application.

For current serving members, medals are sent to their unit as shown on PMKeyS.

Why does it take months?

Most applications take three to six months to process. This time allows Defence to research historical documents, seek approval from the delegate (usually either the Chief of the Defence Force or the Governor-General), and to engrave and dispatch awards.

Under the Australian Honours and Awards System, all awards are engraved with the recipient’s name and Service Number or PMKeyS number. The placement of the engraving depends on the type of award. For example, engraving may be placed on the edge or the reverse of the medal.

What if I don’t receive my awards?

Applicants who do not receive approved and dispatched awards may apply for the replacement of those awards using the Defence Medals Application Form.

A minimum of two months must have passed after the dispatch date before the award can be claimed as lost in transit or never received.

Non-received awards will be replaced as original issue if replacements are applied for within three years from the dispatch date. If awards are to be replaced under non-receipt circumstances after a period of three years from the dispatch date, the replacement awards will be engraved with a ‘D’ denoting ‘Duplicate’.

What about long service anniversaries?

Members cannot be assessed as eligible for a Defence Long Service Award until the completion of the required number of qualifying years. Qualifying years are based upon the anniversary of a member’s enlistment. This means that a member cannot be assessed as eligible until after their enlistment anniversary.

Once the enlistment anniversary has been reached, and the member is assessed as eligible, the medal can take six to eight weeks to be schedule, approved and the dispatched.

Because of this, the Defence Long Service Award and Australian Defence Medal cannot be awarded on a member’s anniversary.

Wearing medals

How do I wear my medals?

Current serving members wear their medals in accordance with their Service dress manual. This is generally on the left breast.

Medals are worn in order as notified by the Governor-General in The Order of Wearing Australian Honours and Awards.

When not in uniform, medals are still generally worn as outlined in the Service dress manual.

Can I wear replica medals?

Yes. There are no implications resulting from wearing replicas of awards to which a person is entitled. Some people prefer to wear replicas and keep their originals protected from loss or damage.

Can I wear my relative’s medals?

Yes. Allowance is made for family members of a deceased recipient to wear that person’s medals on commemorative occasions such as Anzac Day. When worn by others, the medals are worn on the right side to show that the wearer is not the original recipient.

Children of current serving members may choose to wear a set of miniature replica medals of their parent’s for special occasions, such as Anzac Day. These medals must be worn on their right breast.

Fraudulent wearing of medals, where a person is implying that the medals are their own, is an offence under the Defence Act 1903. Known or suspected cases of fraudulent medal wearing should be reported to the AFP.

Can Foreign awards be worn?

Yes, once they are approved for wear.

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia determines whether Australian citizens may accept and wear foreign awards on the basis of advice from the Prime Minister.

The Schedule of Approved Countries and Awards lists the foreign awards accepted for wear by the Governor-General. It is regularly updated by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to include additional foreign awards that are approved by the Governor-General.

Foreign awards are worn immediately after Australian honours or awards, in the order of their date of approval to wear. The order of wear may differ for members based on the different circumstances of their individual service and when they have been approved to wear the award.

Imperial honours and awards that were issued after 6 October 1992 are considered Australian and their status will be upheld. As such, they are to be worn in accordance with the Australian order of wearing honours and awards and will carry appropriate postnominals.

When multiple foreign awards are approved on the same date the awards may be worn in the order of precedence of the awarding country but must only be worn after all Australian honours and awards the member may hold or subsequently receive.

Lateral Recruits

Lateral recruits are required to seek approval, using the Defence Medals Application Form, to wear their non-Australian medals on the Australian Defence Force uniform.

After awards are approved for wear, they may be worn in the order of precedence of the awarding country, but must be worn after all Australian honours and awards the member may hold or subsequently receive.

How do I look after my medals?

Medals are valued possessions which reflect service and achievement. The following information is advice regarding the care of your medals. Expert advice on the treatment of medals can be obtained from qualified sources such as jewellers or professional medal mounters. You can download a fact sheet containing the information below from our Fact Sheets page.

Storing medals

It is recommended that medals be stored in a clean and dry area such as boxes made of hoop pine plywood or acid-free cardboard. Unmounted medals should be individually wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, or undyed soft cotton or linen to prevent them from touching and possibly scratching.

Medals should be kept away from extremes of temperature, humidity and light. Damp conditions can cause the metal of medals to corrode, and the fabrics to rot. High temperatures and a very dry environment, and light damage can make fabric brittle and weak.

If the medals are to be worn, it is best they are properly mounted. ‘Court mounting’ is the preferred style as medals are fixed so that they do not swing freely to hit each other and possibly chip. Professional medal mounters are listed in the Yellow Pages and online search directories.

Replica medals can be purchased to be worn or displayed, while original medals are stored safely.

Cleaning medals

Cleaning medals should only be done when necessary as the process may damage the sharpness of the design, or remove metal from the surface. Some chemicals used for cleaning may irritate if they touch the skin or are inhaled. It is recommended that the safety instructions are read prior to use and to try the cleaning method on a small area of the medal first – such as part of the edge – before cleaning the whole medal. Take care not to damage the medal ribbon during the cleaning process.

It is recommended that a non-acidic cleaner, or damp cloth be used to clean most medals. A non-abrasive pencil eraser is also a good choice for cleaning up marks on medals. Medals which have a silver appearance, such as the Australian Defence Medal, can be cleaned by using a silver polishing cloth if required.

Cleaning medal ribbons

Medal ribbons can be cleaned gently with a soft brush and vacuum cleaner. Use the smallest nozzle of your vacuum cleaner and cover it with a piece of open-weave fabric, such as net curtain or gauze bandage, to prevent damage to the ribbon. Set the cleaner to its lowest suction level and gently vacuum the ribbon, using the soft brush to loosen ingrained dirt.

If the ribbon requires further cleaning, or is badly deteriorated and needs to be replaced, a medal dealer/mounter will be able to assist. Medals dealers/mounters are listed in the Yellow Pages and in online search directories.

Replacing medals

Can medals be replaced if they are lost or stolen?

Yes. Living recipients are entitled to one replacement set, in circumstances in which the loss has occurred beyond the control of the recipient. You can apply for replacement medals using the Defence Medals Application Form.

Holders of service awards of deceased recipient’s may be replaced under circumstances in which the loss has occurred beyond the control of the designated holder of the service awards.

Losses must have occurred since 1 December 1974.

Defence will only replace service awards it has the authority to issue within the Imperial and Australian Honours and Awards Systems. Replacement of Imperial awards can only occur if stock is still available.

Replacement service awards will not be provided until a period of two months has elapsed from the date of the loss, to allow adequate time for recovery.

Service awards that can be returned to Defence, such as broken or damaged medals, will be issued as ‘Original’. Replacement of medals which cannot be returned will be engraved with a ‘D’ for ‘Duplicate’.

Service awards that have been sold, or given away, will not be replaced.

Can my medal be re-issued if I have changed my name?

Yes. Where an individual has legally changed their name since the date the medal was earned, the recipient may request the award be replaced with their current name engraved on the award. You can apply for this using the Defence Medals Application Form.

Can Defence provide me with replica medals?

No. Defence is not able to provide replica medals. Replica medals can be purchased from reputable medals dealers.

Reviewing medal decisions

Can I have a decision not to award a medal reviewed?

Yes. Defence encourages individuals to apply for an internal review of its decision. Guidance on submitting a request for a review can be found on the Defence reviews of honours and awards page.

Only awards related to service that occurred after the start of World War II (3 September 1939) can be reviewed.

Can I access my own service records?

Yes. Defence Archives manages the storage, archiving and retrieval of service records (both personal and health) for discharged members in Defence Archives custody.

See the Defence Archives webpage for more information.

Can I request changes to existing medals or request new medals?

The qualifying conditions for a medal or clasp to a medal are decided after consideration of the particular operation by appropriate authorities. These conditions, when approved, are published as a determination which becomes the authority for establishing eligibility.

Other FAQs

I have found/been given a medal. Who was the recipient?

Most medals have recipient details such as service number, name and initials engraved on the reverse or on the edge of the medal.

If you are seeking to return the medal to its original recipient, the medal may be passed to an ex-serving organisation such as the RSL who will attempt to return the medal to the recipient or the recipient's family.