Chapter 7 – Wearing and care of medals, use of post-nominals and heraldic privileges


  1. Orders, decorations and medals are worn by individuals as a public and official mark of recognition for their courage, merit or service and therefore only the original and rightful recipient may wear them. After the recipient's passing, the awards may be retained in the family and even be put on display as heirlooms or given to a recognized museum but under no circumstances should the awards be worn by anyone other than the original recipient. In accordance with Section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person who without lawful authority:
    1. wears a distinctive mark relating to wounds received or service performed in war, or a military medal (MM), ribbon, badge, chevron or any decoration or order that is awarded for war services, or any imitation thereof, or any mark or device or thing that is likely to be mistaken for any such mark, medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, decoration or order,
    2. is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction (ref: Criminal Code of Canada (R.S. 1985, c. C-46, s 377).
  2. Only the official insignia of orders, decorations and medals, duly authorized by the Crown, may be worn. Unofficial, organizational medals (including cadet, Legion, veterans' associations medals) or foreign honours which have not been approved by the GC shall not be mounted or worn in conjunction with official honours in any circumstances (including miniature medals on mess dress, or in civilian attire).
  3. Insignia shall be worn in the sequence as described in the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive (refer to Annex A).
  4. Insignia shall be worn on the uniform in accordance with A-AD-265-000/AG-001, Canadian Forces Dress Instructions, which also includes guidelines for the wearing of insignia with civilian attire.
  5. When a recipient who has earned civilian national honours is also a CF member, the person is allowed to wear any and all such official honours in uniform as per paragraph 4.
  6. Recipients of individual honours (orders, decorations for military valour, bravery and meritorious service and MID) and awards CDS and Command Commendations are entitled to wear the undress ribbon, miniature, device and lapel badge (in civilian attire) and to use authorized post-nominal letters where appropriate from the moment the GG signs the instrument or the CDS or Commander of a Command signs the approval (in the case of departmental awards), and the recipient is notified of the award.
  7. Recipients shall not wear the undress ribbon and miniature of a campaign, service, commemorative or long service medal, or make use of the related post-nominals (where applicable) before it has been officially presented.
  8. CF members shall not wear replica medals (refer also to Chapter 5, paragraph 18).
  9. Each recipient is only entitled to one original set of honours and therefore duplicate medals will not be issued under any circumstances. Where additional medals are required for display purposes or for additional family members, museum quality replicas or miniature medals should be procured from a commercial facilitator.
  10. A CF member who was awarded an order, decoration or medal by a Commonwealth country or foreign government prior to enrolment in the CF is not authorized to wear it on the CF uniform until permission has been granted. For policy and procedures on approval to wear Commonwealth and foreign campaign and service medals, refer to Chapter 6.
  11. The wearing of any honour is at the discretion of the recipient. If a person accepts an honour but decides not to wear it, the recipient must be consistent in applying the decision in time and in fashion (full-size, miniature, undress ribbon, lapel badge, etc).
  12. With the exception of the insignia of national orders, when issued, awards become the personal property of the recipient. Any dispute arising after awards are issued is to be resolved in the same way as any other property matter. DND/CF are not responsible for awards that have been issued and will not become involved in any property dispute that may arise.

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Court mounting at public expense

  1. CF members shall have all medals court-mounted as described in the Canadian Forces Dress Instructions (Ref: A-AD-265-000/AG-001).
  2. The Crown covers the cost of court mounting for serving CF members (Regular, Reserve, COATS and Canadian Rangers). Reimbursement at public expense includes the following: court mounting of full sized medals, including clasps, bars, tour numerals, and replacement of mounting pins. This also includes remounting of medals due to changes to policy or the order of precedence.
  3. Retired members of the CF who have been awarded medals or decorations while serving, but were received after retirement can have their medals/decorations court mounted at public expense effective 29 September 2000. Retired members are to contact the nearest CF supply depot in this regard.
  4. Miniature medals are not provided by the Crown and must be purchased and mounted at the recipient's own expense.

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Maintenance and care of medals

  1. Insignia of orders, decorations and medals shall be kept clean at all times. Under no circumstances shall the colour or finish of the insignia be changed from the original colour and intended design. For example, matte insignia are not to become bright and insignia with a silver or bronze finish are not to become gold.
  2. The majority of modern Canadian and international medals are made of non-tarnishing materials and therefore shall not be plated, lacquered or treated in any other way. These medals shall only be cleaned with a non-abrasive damp cloth and dried with a non-abrasive soft cloth. The use of metal polish or other abrasive substances can be particularly damaging and should be avoided.
  3. For those medals which are made of silver or other tarnishing metal, although not recommended, they may be treated in a way that will prevent tarnishing and preserve the original design and intended colour and finish (bright or matte) of the medal. These medals and only these medals may alternatively be polished with commercial products or a jeweller's dip; this should be done as infrequently and as gently as possible. When these products are used, the medals should be thoroughly rinsed with clear water or a non-abrasive damp cloth to remove all residue. It is important to note these measures, if taken, will affect the historical value of the medal, as the colour and the design details will be affected over time.
  4. Ribbon worn with insignia or on ribbon bars shall be clean and not frayed or worn. Frayed, damaged or faded ribbons shall be replaced.
  5. Recipients are to ensure that all orders, decorations and medals received by them are secured when not in use. It is recommended that they be included specifically in insurance policies. Care is to be taken to prevent insignia falling into the possession of unauthorized persons. Insignia sent by post are to be sent by registered mail.
  6. A member who illegally disposes of an order, decoration or medal is liable to disciplinary measures (National Defence Act (NDA), Section 116).

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  1. Post-nominals are sets of letters that are displayed after one's name to denote certain honours, appointments, qualifications or fellowships. Post-nominals are to be listed according to a specific order and only the post-nominals recognized by Her Majesty's Canadian Government shall be used.
  2. Military writing custom omits all period marks in post-nominals and therefore all DND correspondence, official documents and business cards should display the post-nominals without period marks e.g.: Colonel A.B. Smith, OMM, MSM, CD.
  3. Post-nominals should be used in formal documents, official correspondence, biographies and on business cards. In correspondence, post-nominals may be shown in address blocks and in the signature block unless they already appear in the letterhead. If reference is made to a person in a text, post-nominals should be included with the person's name only the first time the name is mentioned and should be omitted thereafter.
  4. Common practice in the CF is to include only post-nominals related to honours from the Crown and royal appointments. Others (such as civil, academic, religious distinctions and fellowships) are omitted except when the post-nominal denotes a qualification directly pertinent to the correspondence (e.g. medical degree in medical advice documents).
  5. Post-nominals are divided into different categories and shall always be listed in the following order:
    1. Highest Decorations:
      1. VC: Victoria Cross;
      2. CV: Cross of Valour.
    2. The Queen's Privy Council:
      1. PC: Privy Councillor, or in full Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. Appointment to the Privy Council also entitles the holder to the prefix "The Honourable" for life.
    3. National Orders (as per Annex A):
      1. The post-nominals associated with appointments to the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem are authorized for the internal use of the Order only and therefore shall not appear in any DND correspondence, documents or on business cards.
      2. Post-nominals associated with unofficial orders or awards that are not part of or accepted in the Canadian order of precedence such as the Order of Malta, the Order of St. Lazarus or the Order of St. Stanislas, among many others, shall not be included.
    4. Provincial Orders (as per Annex A).
    5. Decorations (other than the VC and CV, as per Annex A):
      1. Military writing custom dictates that the award of bars to decorations is not indicated in post-nominals. Similarly, the award of a clasp to the CD does not change the post-nominal.
      2. Only appointments to orders and the award of decorations confer the right to use post-nominals. The award of medals carries no such entitlement.
      3. nominals denoting the appointment to a British order (OBE, MBE, etc.) or the award of a British decoration (MC, DFC, MM, ED, etc.) may be displayed along with Canadian post-nominals according to the mixed order of precedence at Annex A only if the appointment or award took place before 1 July 1972.
      4. Post-nominals for British orders and decorations conferred after 1 July 1972 as well as those for honours of other Commonwealth countries, the awards of which has been approved by the GC, shall be displayed after the post-nominals for all Canadian orders and decorations and be displayed in order earned in each category, orders first, decorations last.
      5. Post-nominals shall not be used to denote the award of foreign honours. It is therefore not proper to display "Ld'H" to denote an appointment to the French Légion d'honneur or to display "MSM" to denote the award of the United States Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) or the NATO MSM.
    6. Appointments to The Queen and Her Majesty's Representatives:
      1. ADC: Aide de Camp to Her Majesty;
      2. QHP: Honorary Physician to The Queen (for the duration of the appointment only);
      3. QHS: Honorary Surgeon to The Queen (for the duration of the appointment only);
      4. QHDS: Honorary Dental Surgeon to The Queen (for the duration of the appointment only);
      5. QHNO: Honorary Nursing Officer to The Queen (for the duration of the appointment only);
      6. QHC: Honorary Chaplain to The Queen (for the duration of the appointment only);
      7. AdeC: Aide-de-Camp and Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General and Lieutenant-Governors (for the duration of the appointment only).
    7. Civil distinctions such as QC, JP, MP, MLA, MPP, etc. are post-nominals related to membership in a legislature and are used only while in office.
    8. Religious Orders such as SJ, OHC, OMI, etc.
    9. Academic degrees (earned), listed in ascending order, such as BA, MSc, MA, PhD, etc. When several degrees have been earned, it is customary to include only one, usually the highest or the most appropriate for the correspondence.
    10. Academic degrees (honorary), listed in ascending order, such as LLD, DLit, etc. When several honorary degrees have been conferred on a person, it is customary to include only one, usually the highest or the most appropriate for the correspondence.
    11. Fellowships in Royal and Earned Societies such as FRSC, FRCGS, etc. When a person is entitled to several fellowships or memberships in associations, it is customary to include only one. There is no fixed order for placing these letters but they should be arranged according to the date of foundation or incorporation of the societies concerned, those having a Royal Charter having precedence.
  6. Professional and military qualifications: denote membership in professional associations, medical or professional qualifications as well as symbols related to military qualifications (refer to CF Military Personnel Instruction 01/10).
  7. A full list of civic, religious, academic and fellowship post-nominals can be found in good Canadian reference works.

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Heraldic privileges

  1. Armorial bearings, also known as coat of arms, are a form of honours from the Crown granted under the Royal Prerogative. CF members may petition the Chief Herald of Canada to be granted armorial bearings.
  2. Members of orders and holders of decorations and medals are entitled to suspend a representation of the insignia from their shield of arms. The same privilege extends to the insignia of Commonwealth and foreign honours only where the acceptance and wear of which has been approved by the GC. A maximum of three insignia may be suspended from the shield, the central one having precedence.
  3. There are additional heraldic privileges such as the grant of supporters (for members of the highest level of orders) and surrounding the shield of arms with the circle and motto of an order. See related annexes for details.
  4. For additional information on armorial bearings, visit the site of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG), or write to:
    • Chief Herald of Canada
    • Canadian Heraldic Authority
    • Rideau Hall
    • 1 Sussex Drive
    • Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1
    • Telephone: 1-800-465-6890
    • Fax: 613-990-5818

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