Imperial Service Medal

The Imperial Service Medal (ISM) is a medal affiliated with the Imperial Service Order. The medal was established under the statutes of the Imperial Service Order, on 8 August 1902, by King Edward VII,[1] with the first awards appearing in the London Gazette in May 1903.[3]

Imperial Service Medal
Obverse and reverse of the medal
Awarded for25 years of meritorious service
Presented by Charles III
EligibilityCivil Servants of the United Kingdom, the Dominions, Colonies, Protectorates, and Overseas Territories.
Established8 August 1902[1]
Last awarded24 January 2023
Ribbon bar of the medal
Order of Wear
Next (higher)Polar Medal[2]
Next (lower)Indian Police Medal[2]
Original design, Gentlemen's and ladies' issues


It is presented upon retirement to selected civil servants, not belonging to the administrative or clerical branches,[4] who complete at least 25 years meritorious service. It is primarily an award to manual and industrial grades, including workers in H M Dockyards and, prior to 1969 when it moved from central government control, the Post Office.[5] Prison officers were eligible prior to the establishment in 2010 of the Prison Services Long Service Medal.[6] The minimum period of service was 20½ years in India prior to independence in 1947, and 16 years in unhealthy climates in other countries.[5]


When originally created the Imperial Service Medal was a seven-pointed star, or a laurel wreath for women, in the same pattern as the Imperial Service Order, but with the star or laurel in bronze.[7] In 1920 an amendment of the statutes changed the appearance of the medal to its current form: a circular silver medal, 32 mm (1.3 in) in diameter, bearing the effigy of the reigning sovereign on the obverse.[8] To date, here have been six versions:[9]

The reverse bears the image of a naked man resting from his labours[9] with the inscription "For Faithful Service".[8][10] The name of the recipient is impressed on the rim of the medal. Recipients are listed in the London Gazette.[11]


  1. "No. 27463". The London Gazette. 8 August 1902. p. 5171.
  2. "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3352.
  3. "No. 27559". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 May 1903. p. 3521.
  4. Damon Rogers. The workman's medal: an analysis of the award of the Imperial Service Medal during the reign of Edward VII. Orders and Medals Research Society Journal, June 2022, Vol 61 No 2. Page 131.
  5. Nick Tucker. The Imperial Service Medal: is this humble medal underrated?. Orders and Medals Research Society Journal, March 2021, Vol 60 No 1. Pages 16–22.
  6. "No. 59672". The London Gazette. 17 January 2011. p. 615.
  7. Captain H. Taprell Dorling. Ribbons and Medals. p. 38. Published A.H.Baldwin & Sons, London. 1956.
  8. "No. 31953". The London Gazette. 25 June 1920. p. 6875.
  9. John Mussell (ed). Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 84. Published by Token Publishing Ltd. Honiton, Devon.
  10. "Imperial Service Order". The National Archives. 8 April 1986. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  11. For example: "No. 61990". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 11 July 2017.
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