Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or Bundesverdienstorden, BVO)[2] is the only federal decoration of Germany. It is awarded for special achievements in political, economic, cultural, intellectual or honorary fields. It was created by the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, on 7 September 1951. Colloquially, the decorations of the different classes of the Order are also known as the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz).

Order of Merit of the
Federal Republic of Germany
Special grade of the Grand Cross
(reserved for heads of state)
TypeOrder of Merit with eight regular and one special classes
Country Germany
Presented bythe President of Germany
EligibilityCivilian and military personnel
Established7 September 1951
Total260,429 (as of 10 January 2021)[1]

Grand Cross Special Class

Grand Cross 1st Class, Special Issue

Grand Cross 1st Class

Grand Cross

Knight Commander




Ribbon bars of the Order of Merit

It has been awarded to over 200,000 individuals in total, both Germans and foreigners. Since the 1990s, the number of annual awards has declined from over 4,000, first to around 2,300–2,500 per year, and now under 2,000, with a low of 1752 in 2011. In recent years,[when?] women have made up a steady 30–31% of recipients.[3]

Most of the German federal states (Länder) have each their own order of merit as well, with the exception of the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen and Hamburg, which reject any orders (by old tradition their citizens, particularly former or present senators, will refuse any decoration in the form of an order, the most famous example being former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt).[4]