The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (Norwegian, Den Kongelige Norske Fortjensteorden) was established by King Olav V of Norway in 1985. It is the newest Nordic order and is awarded to foreigners, Norwegian citizens living abroad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomats, foreign civil servants in Norway, and Norway's honorary consuls for "outstanding service in the interests of Norway". Its counterpart, the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, is generally only awarded to Norwegian citizens living in Norway.
The reigning monarch (King Harald V) is the Grand Master of the Order. The order has five grades: Grand Cross, Commander (which is further subdivided into Grand Officer and Commander), and Knight (which is further subdivided into Officer and Knight).
The Order is characterized by a ribbon of deep blue moiré. The Grand Cross is worn on a broad sash that hangs over the right shoulder. The Commander's Cross is worn around the neck on ribbon of the Order. The Knight's Cross is worn over the left breast on a ribbon. Women wear both the Commander's Cross and the Knight's Cross over the left breast on a ribbon of the Order that has been fashioned into a bow. Unlike the Order of St. Olav, the insignia of The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit are the property of the recipient.
Applications are submitted through the Protocol Department of the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. HM the King receives the applications and confers the Order based on the council of the Lord Chamberlain of the Court, the Chief Protocol of the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Head of Chancery of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.