Initially, the qualifying period was those members who served overseas for at least 18 months full-time service or three years' part-time service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. On 16 August 1996, the qualifying period was reduced to 30 days for full-time service and 90 days for part-time service.
The Australia Service Medal 1939–45 is a circular nickel-silver medal. The obverse bears the crowned effigy of King George VI.
The reverse of the medal shows the Commonwealth Coat of Arms surrounded by the words 'THE AUSTRALIA SERVICE MEDAL 1939–1945'.
The medal ribbon has a wide khaki central stripe, flanked by two narrow red stripes, and edge stripes, one of dark blue the other of light blue. The khaki represents the Australian nature of the award, and the red, dark blue and light blue represent the Army, Navy and Air Force respectively.