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Excellent service to the community

The Order of Merit is awarded to domestic and foreign citizens for political, economic-social and intellectual achievements as well as for all special services to the Federal Republic of Germany, such as in the social and charitable area. It is the only general merit award in Germany and thus the highest recognition that the Federal Republic of Germany expresses for services to the common good. There is no financial contribution associated with the award of the Order of Merit.

With his medals, the Federal President would like to draw the public's attention to outstanding achievements, to which he attaches particular importance to our community. In the future, women are to be honored more frequently and young people are to be given greater consideration. Everyone can suggest the award of the Order of Merit to another (medal suggestions).

The Order of Merit is awarded in eight different stages:

The eight levels of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Merit MedalThe medal of merit is round and golden in color. It has a diameter of 38 mm and bears the image of the medal on the front, which is surrounded by a laurel wreath. The reverse shows the five-line inscription, also surrounded by a laurel wreath: "For merits to the Federal Republic of Germany". The band is 30 mm wide and has a narrow gold-black-gold hem.© Sandra Steins
Cross of Merit on ribbonThe cross of merit on ribbon (here the men's version) has a diameter of 55 mm. The back is grained and bordered by a narrow edge. The tape is 30 mm wide and has a gold-black-gold hem.© Julia Fassbender
Cross of Merit, First ClassThe Cross of Merit 1st Class (here the men's version) is a plug-in cross that corresponds to the Cross of Merit on the ribbon (men's version), but the back is smooth and has a pin.© Julia Fassbender
Great Cross of MeritThe Great Cross of Merit (here men's version) has a diameter of 60 mm. The front and back are the same. There is a rosette on the upper cross leg. The band is 44 mm wide and is worn as a collar with a loop that is attached to the rosette by a ring.© Sandra Steins
Great Cross of Merit with a starThe Great Cross of Merit with a star (here the ladies' version) corresponds to the Great Cross of Merit. The star belonging to this award consists of four golden bundles of rays, on the center of which a 45 mm order symbol is placed. The star has a diameter of 80 mm.© Sandra Steins
Large cross of merit with star and shoulder ribbonThe design of the Great Cross of Merit with a star and shoulder ribbon corresponds to the Great Cross of Merit. It is attached to a 100 mm wide ribbon that is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. The star belonging to this award consists of four golden bundles of rays. It is curved and has a diameter of 85 mm.© Sandra Steins
Grand CrossThe grand cross has a diameter of 70 mm. It is attached to a 100 mm wide ribbon that is worn from the right shoulder to the left hip and is interwoven with the symbol of the federal eagle. The star belonging to this award consists of six golden bundles of rays, on the center of which a 45 mm medal is placed. The star has a diameter of 80 mm.© Julia Fassbender
Special level of the Grand CrossThe special stage of the Grand Cross is similar to the Grand Cross, but the star belonging to this stage has a diameter of 90 mm and consists of eight golden bundles of rays. The medal placed in the middle is 55 mm. The ribbon corresponds to the ribbon of the Grand Cross, but the symbols of the federal eagle are hand-embroidered.© Julia Fassbender

The first award is generally the Medal of Merit or the Cross of Merit on Ribbon. Further versions are the 1st Class Cross of Merit, the Great Cross of Merit, the Great Cross of Merit with Star, the Great Cross of Merit with Star and Shoulder Ribbon, the Grand Cross and the special level of the Grand Cross.

In most cases, the minister-presidents of the federal states, state or federal ministers, regional presidents or mayors are responsible for handing over the medals of merit awarded by the Federal President. In a few cases, the Federal President hands over the Order of Merit personally, for example on the occasion of the Day of German Unity and the Day of Honorary Office.

Since the foundation by Federal President Theodor Heuss in 1951, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany has been awarded 260,429 times (as of January 10, 2021).