Orders and decorations

Art. 138 of the Constitution provides that the President shall confer orders and decorations.

The orders and decorations constitute the supreme honour for the civil and military merits, during the time of peace and war, for the glory and development of the Republic of Poland.

The following four orders are conferred:

  • Order of the White Eagle,
  • Order of the Rebirth of Poland (five-class),
  • Order for Merit of the Republic of Poland (five-class),
  • Order of the Military Cross (three-class).

6 decorations:

  • Cross of Merit (three-degree),
  • Cross of Merit for Bravery,
  • Medal for Sacrifice and Courage,
  • Medal for long-Time Service (three-degree),
  • Medal for Long Marital Life,
  • Sybir Deportee Cross.

Military decorations:

  • Military Cross,
  • Military Cross of Merit with Swords,
  • Navy Cross of Merit with Swords,
  • Air Force Cross of Merit with Swords,
  • Military Cross of Merit,
  • Navy Cross of Merit,
  • Air Force Cross of Merit,
  • Afghanistan Star,
  • Iraq Star.

The war orders and decorations may only be conferred during war time and no later than five years after the war ends:

  • The Virituti Militari War Order (five-class),
  • Cross of Valour,
  • Cross of Merit with Swords (three-degree).

The war orders and decorations for the merits hitherto have been conferred.

The orders and decorations are conferred by the President of the Republic of Poland at his own initiative or at the request of:

1. The Prime Ministers or the Chapter of Orders - orders,
2. The prime minister, ministers, chiefs of central offices and province governors – decorations.

The Knight’s Cross of the Order of Military Cross and the Military Cross may be granted to the fighting formation whereas the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari War Order (V cl.) and the Cross of Valour may be conferred upon the fighting formation or a town, but only during the war time or within five years of the war end. The remaining orders and decorations are not awarded to communities.

The Chapters of Orders keep the honour of the order for which it was established.

The Chapter is entitled to express its opinion with respect to all issues related to an order. It is particularly entitled to:

  • give its opinion on the applications for conferring an order or removing the order,
  • apply to the president of the Republic of Poland for awarding the order or its removal,
  • familiarise itself with the draft acts on the order,
  • apply for undertaking a legislative initiative on any matters related to the order.

The Polish orders and decorations may be awarded to foreign citizens for merits to the Republic of Poland or its citizens, and as appropriate to the international customs.

The President of the Republic of Poland gives his consent for the order or decoration awarded by the supreme authorities of any foreign country to be accepted by the Polish citizen.

The orders and decorations may be conferred posthumously. However, an application for the accomplished deceased persons to be awarded can only be made in recognition of the particular and remarkable merits to the Republic of Poland. The Sybir Deportee Cross is awarded to the living persons on the date of entry into force of the Act, which is 1 January 2004.

On behalf of the President of the Republic of Poland, the orders and decorations may be awarded by:

  • the persons authorised to apply for awarding orders and decorations and their deputies,
  • in the Armed Forces: commander-in-chiefs authorised by the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Interior,
  • abroad: The chiefs of the Polish diplomatic and consular posts,
  • the Medal for Long Marital Life may be awarded, on behalf of the President by: province marshal, district governor, city/town president, mayor and commune head.

The President of the Republic of Poland may, in extraordinary circumstances, authorise another person to award orders and decorations.

The person awarded shall receive, free-of-charge, the order badge and the card (the order or decoration badge, in the event it is lost or destroyed, may only be awarded again against payment. The card duplicate is issued free-of-charge).

Where the award of the order or decoration took place as a result of misleading or the person awarded the order or decoration no longer deserves the order, the President may decide to take away the order or badge. The President’s decision about the order being taken away may apply to all or some orders and decorations.

The President of the Republic of Poland may decide to remove the orders and decorations:

  • on his own initiative,
  • on the application of the Chapter of Orders,
  • on the application of the Prime Minister, ministers, chiefs of the central offices and province governors, after taking the opinion of the applicant, and in the case the order is removed, also upon taking the opinion of the appropriate Chapter.