Admission into an Order and the conferment of the relevant insignia constitute a public acknowledgement of outstanding services rendered to Greece or exceptional achievement in an area of public life, such as in science, arts and letters, commerce, industry or shipping. The insignia is conferred by the Head of State.

The first Greek Order, modelled on the Orders of other European countries, was established in 1829, to express the gratitude of the Nation to those who had played an active role in its liberation.

Since then, 5 Greek Orders have been established:

The Order of the Redeemer
The Order of George I (abolished)
The Order of Honour
The Order of the Phoenix
The Order of Beneficence (only for women)

Each Order has 5 classes:

The Grand Cross
The Grand Commander
The Commander
The Officer of the Gold Cross
The Knight of the Silver Cross

The conferment of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer constitutes the highest distinction of all.

Those who have been awarded any class of an Order are entitled to keep the insignia for life and to pass it on to their heirs, as a keepsake. Formerly the insignia was returned on the death of the recipient.

The incumbent President of the Republic is the Master of all Orders and with him rests the power to allow admission into the Orders and to confer the respective insignia, in accordance with article 46 paragraph 2 of the Constitution and the provisions of Law 106/1975. Recommendations regarding the choice of persons to whom distinctions may be awarded are submitted to the President of the Republic by the Council of Orders and Decorations, which meets at least once a year. In order to confer an award of distinction the President of the Republic must issue a decree. This must be countersigned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and published in the Government Gazette.