The original warrant provided for the award of the MC "in recognition of distinguished and meritorious services in the time of war." An amendment in 1931 laid down that it should be awarded to officers not above the rank of major "for gallant and distinguished services in action." Recipients are entitled to use the letters MC after their names and bars may be awarded for further acts of exceptional courage.
The medal consists of a plain silver cross containing, on the obverse, an Imperial Crown on each arm of the cross and, in the centre, the Imperial and Royal Cypher of the reigning monarch. The ribbon is white with a central purple stripe.