A close-up photograph of a young boy and girl looking at a colorful ceramic plate held by an older figure in a brown tartan jacket
Children looking at a colourful ceramic plate by Clarice Cliff, who was awarded a national blue plaque in April 2024. © Historic England
Children looking at a colourful ceramic plate by Clarice Cliff, who was awarded a national blue plaque in April 2024. © Historic England

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria and accompanying guidance notes for those seeking to make a nomination for a national blue plaque.

1. Who can get a plaque?

Figures proposed for commemoration must, without exception, have died at least 20 years ago. Animals and fictitious characters will not be considered.

To be awarded a national blue plaque, the person being nominated must have died at least 20 years ago.

This is to ensure that the decision-making process is considered and supported by a sufficient period of reflection on a person's life and achievements.

2. What must they have achieved?

To be chosen for a plaque, a person must be understood by the national blue plaques panel to have made a significant contribution to human welfare or happiness; and/or to have made an exceptional impact in their field, community or on society at large.

The national blue plaque scheme is designed to highlight the stories of inspirational people, from all walks of life, who have made a significant contribution to human welfare or happiness.

This can cover many areas, as seen in the range of people to first receive a national blue plaque:

  • Daphne Steele, who made history by becoming the first Black matron in the National Health Service in 1964
  • Clarice Cliff, a working-class factory worker from Stoke-on-Trent who became one of the best-known pottery designers of the 20th century
  • George Harrison, music icon, songwriter and humanitarian who first rose to international fame as a member of The Beatles

We are looking for nominations for people who have made an exceptional impact in their field, community, or society. This impact could be in fields such as the arts, economics, education, law, literature, medicine, politics, or sport. The online nomination form has a fuller list of fields, and there is an option to select 'other'.

3. Telling broader stories of places or communities

We encourage a wide range of applications from all communities and welcome the nomination of people that help us tell a broader story of a place or community of people: for example, women, those from minority ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ people, Disabled people, or working-class people.

The national blue plaque scheme is a way to share a wide range of people’s stories. It can help us highlight the stories of people and communities whose history and lived experiences have sometimes been hidden from view or excluded from historic narratives and records. We welcome nominations celebrating the achievements of currently underrepresented people or those whose stories have long been overlooked.

4. Selection process

The national blue plaques panel will pay due regard to disparities in representation and in the overall balance of cases being shortlisted. The panel will consider the current geographical distribution of plaques across England.

The selection process will consider the need to have a spread of plaques across England so that they are not all clustered in one place or region. The national blue plaques panel will be looking to share stories of people from all walks of life, making sure there is a diverse and varied group of individuals receiving blue plaques. The national blue plaques panel will also make sure achievements are celebrated from different fields.

5. Property associated with candidates

There should be a strong and clear association between the property and the proposed person, such as place of birth, death, childhood home, a substantial period of residence, or a significant moment in life or career.

National blue plaques celebrate the relationship between people and the places they were associated with (for example, where they were born, worked, lived or died). Because of this unique link between a person and place, plaques need to be on surviving buildings where there is evidence that they spent time.

Nominators need to identify a surviving building associated with their candidate. If they cannot find an exact building, an approximate location will be acceptable. If there are several addresses associated with a candidate, the nominator should give the address with the strongest connection. The national blue plaques historian will look for evidence connecting a candidate with a specific location if they are selected.

6. Surviving and recognisable buildings

The building must be in such condition that the person being commemorated would recognise it from the outside.

Each national blue plaque is a tangible, physical link marking a recipient's connection to a specific place through a building that was part of their story and is still standing today. It creates a focus for exploring their life and achievements. Because national blue plaques celebrate this connection, enough of the building needs to remain for it to be recognisable to the candidate if they were alive today.

7. Significant buildings

A person’s residence in a given place should include significant life events (for example: birth, death, education, work) and/or reflect a significant period in their life or work, in terms of length of time or importance.

We know that there are not always extensive records documenting where people lived or worked throughout their lives. Buildings associated with the candidate can include where they lived or worked when their important achievement took place. However, if information about the associated location is not available, often there are records of where someone was born, died, or stayed for a number of years. Such places are eligible for a national blue plaque so we can share stories of a broad range of people who deserve to be better known.

8. Plaque locations – requirements

A national blue plaque must be clearly visible from the public road or right of way. A plaque will normally be erected only on a building and not on a boundary wall or gate pier.

We want people to be able to see each national blue plaque and learn about the person it commemorates. Since boundary walls or gate piers are more likely to be demolished, a national blue plaque must be installed on a building and visible from the street.

9. Plaque locations – restrictions

Plaques shall not be erected to commemorate short-term associations of a person with educational or ecclesiastical buildings, military establishments, hospitals, hotels, or private clubs. Plaques shall not be erected on royal palaces or the Inns of Court, or on any building which has too many significant personal associations to merit any one being singled out.

Each national blue plaque is designed to celebrate a particular person so that people can learn more about their impact. Each location is carefully chosen to celebrate the unique connection between that person and the place.

National blue plaques cannot be installed on:

  • Educational buildings, such as schools or universities
  • Ecclesiastical buildings, such as churches, temples and places of worship
  • Military establishments
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Private clubs

These sites are likely to have been associated with many people, making it hard to celebrate a single story and risking overwhelming the building with multiple plaques.

10. Existing plaques

No more than 2 plaques are allowed on 1 building.

We want people to be able to learn more about incredible stories through the national blue plaque scheme. When researching a candidate, we will find out whether there are any existing plaques on the building put forward.

A national blue plaque will not be eligible if there are already 2 plaques on 1 building because additional plaques could lead to overcrowding, preventing people from fully engaging with the stories being commemorated.

11. Existing schemes

A national blue plaque would not normally be considered for someone who is already commemorated by a plaque in the town or city in which they have been nominated.

This is because the purpose of the Historic England national blue plaque scheme is to complement existing schemes. A national blue plaque would be considered if a person has been recognised only through other forms of commemoration, such as statues, place names or perhaps if a plaque has been put up by private individuals.

The national blue plaque scheme complements locally run plaque schemes, and we recognise that there are many ways to commemorate a person.

If there is already a commemorative plaque from a locally-run scheme in the same place as a national blue plaque is proposed, the blue plaque will typically not be eligible.

If a plaque exists elsewhere in the country but not in the proposed location, then a national blue plaque is eligible.

If there are other forms of local memorialisation (such as statues, private plaques and street names), the blue plaque panel will take this into account when assessing the proposed candidate on a case-by-case basis.

Ready to make a nomination?

Once you've read and understood these guidance notes, please submit your nomination by completing the online form below.

Make a nomination

Contact us

National Blue Plaque Scheme