How to register a coat of arms.

We at Araltas do not undertake the registration of coats of arms with heraldic authorities, mainly because most of these bodies will not accept third party applications. However, here are some tips on how you can go about registering your arms yourself.

Why register?

Actually, there is no compelling reason to register your coat of arms. A registered coat of arms has no real legal protection (except in Scotland). If you commission a new coat of arms design from an artist, then, on creation, the design becomes intellectual property and is subject to copyright protection. Assuming you have full rights of use from the artist (as you would if you commission a design from us) then your coat of arms is copyright protected which is actually a much more powerful safeguard than a registration.

What to register.

In designing a new coat of arms, I will always try to stay within the "rules" or heraldry, left to my own devices. However, it often happens that the customer will require some symbols or colour scheme that breaks those rules. A quick look through the Araltas Roll of Arms will bear that out. Be aware that if you plan to register your arms with an heraldic authority, they may (and probably will) reject designs that flirt with the rules.

Where to register.

It might seem obvious that you should simply register your arms in your home country. This, however, it not always possible, as many countries do not have an heraldic authority, for example the United States of America. You could next look to your country of ethnic origin. The British and Irish heraldic authorities will accept applications from non nationals who are of British or Irish descent. The cheapest and easiest option is to register in South Africa, which will accept applications from anyone and register a coat of arms that does not infringe on any exiting registered design. Americans might also consider registering with the American College of Heraldry which does not have any statutory power, but does maintain a well organised register of arms.

There is also The International Register of Armorial Bearings (Coats of Arms) - a register of armorial bearings in current use throughout the world. This is an unoffical register but has the advantage of being wordwide. Details are at the bottom of this page.

Here is a list of Heraldic Authorities and bodies and some information about them.

Ireland

Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland
Kildare Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel. +353-1-6030311

Fax: +353-1-6621062

Email: herald@nli.ie

Who may apply for a grant of arms?

  • Citizens of Ireland, male or female

  • Other persons normally resident in Ireland
  • Persons living outside Ireland but who have significant links with Ireland, either through ancestry or otherwise
  • Public authorities and other corporate bodies or other organisations.

What is the effect of a grant of arms?

    A grant of arms creates a form of property which is vested in the grantee who may, according to the traditional formula, display the arms 'on shield or banner or otherwise according to the laws of arms'. It does not confer any rank or title, or have any effect on the right of the person concerned to any other property, real or personal. A grant of arms made to an individual extends to his or her descendants of the name, not to a family as such.

How does one apply for arms?

    An application for a personal grant of arms should be made to the Chief Herald, on a prescribed form, setting out basic personal information and accompanied by supporting certificates or other appropriate documents.
    For a grant of arms to a corporate body or other organisation, the application should include information about the corporate status, structure and business of the body and should be accompanied by a certified copy of the relevant resolution of the council, board or other controlling body.

What happens when an application is made?

    If, on preliminary examination, an application appears to be in order, the applicant is notified accordingly. The matter is then considered in detail by a Herald of Arms who will consult with the applicant about possible designs. A preliminary painting is then made for the approval of the applicant who will also be shown a draft of the Letters Patent.
    The final document is issued on vellum and includes a hand-painted exemplification of the arms. The related text may be in either Irish or English, or in bilingual form. The grant of arms is recorded in the Register of Arms and is a matter of public record.

How long does it take?

    Devising and designing arms requires a considerable input of time by the professional staff of the Genealogical Office. The time taken to deal with an application can vary. Every effort is made to deal with all applications within a reasonable period but, depending on the number on hand, and the nature and extent of the work involved, it may take up to a year to complete the processing of a new application.

How much does it cost? (July 2001 IR£1 = Euro1.27 = US$1.09 = UK£0.79) Currency Converter

    The fee for a personal grant of arms is IR£2,200. The sum of IR£200 is payable when lodging the application, a further IR£1,000 is payable when work on the design begins and the balance of IR£1,000 must be paid before work on the actual grant of arms is put in hand by the herald painter.
    For a grant of arms to a local authority, the fee is IR£3,500 and the fee charged to schools, clubs etc. ranges from IR£2,200 to IR£4,000. For a grant of arms to other corporate bodies and organisations, the fee is IR£7,000.

Canada

Chief Herald of Canada
Canadian Heraldic Authority
Rideau Hall
Ottawa
Ontario
Canada

Tel. Toll-free anywhere in Canada: 1-800-465-6890 otherwise (613) 993-9530

Fax: (613) 998-1664

Email: info@gg.ca

Background

    In 1988, The Queen gave Canada the power to grant coats of arms -- the first time a Commonwealth country received that authority. Before then, Canadians who wanted coats of arms had to go through Her Majesty's officers in England or Scotland. Now, citizens can apply to the Canadian Heraldic Authority, which is headed by the Governor General. About 100 corporations, towns, groups and individuals apply for coats of arms each year.
    Because the Authority is in Canada, its heralds are more sensitive to our country's history and traditions and are in a better position to celebrate the character of our institutions. Canadian artists create distinctly Canadian coats of arms. In addition to using the maple leaf and the beaver, Canadian heralds use other Canadian plants and animals. For example, they were the first to use the maple seed in a coat of arms.
    Heraldry in Canada also includes symbols of Aboriginal peoples. Native images such as eagle feathers are included in coats of arms to honour their traditions and contributions. As well, a number of Aboriginal groups have asked the Authority to register their symbols. As with other coats of arms, this recognizes the value of their symbols and protects them against commercial misuse.

How to apply?

    Any group or individual can apply for a coat of arms. They are granted in recognition of public service or contributions to the nation.
    You can send a request, along with background information on why you or your organization should be granted a coat of arms, to the Chief Herald of Canada, Canadian Heraldic Authority, Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A1. The Chief Herald reviews all requests and seeks permission from the Herald Chancellor or her deputy to grant coats of arms.

How much does it cost? Currency Converter

    If you ask for a coat of arms, you are responsible for the cost of the research and artwork for producing the documents. The average cost ranges from $1,500 to $3,000

United Kingdom - excluding Scotland

Officer in Waiting
The College of Arms
Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 4BT
England

Tel. 020 7248 2762

Fax: 020 7248 6448

Email: info@gg.ca

Directions to personal callers

    The College of Arms is on the north side of Queen Victoria Street, and is directly south of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. The nearest underground stations are Blackfriars (the District and Circle Lines), and St. Paul's (the Central Line). Buses numbers 4, 11,15, 17, 23, 76, and 172 all stop not far from the College.

Who may apply?

    Subjects of the Crown. American citizens may be granted honorary arms. They must meet the same criteria for eligibility as subjects of the Crown, and in addition must record in the official registers of the College of Arms a pedigree showing their descent from a subject of the British Crown. This may be someone living in the north American colonies before the recognition of American independence in 1783, or a more recent migrant.

How to apply

    Arms and crests are granted by letters patent. The Crown delegates its authority to issue such letters patent to the Kings of Arms. Before they can act in each case they must first have a warrant from the Earl Marshal agreeing to the granting of the arms. The first step in applying for a grant of arms is to submit a petition, or memorial as it is called, to the Earl Marshal. This will be drawn up for the signature of the petitioner by one of the officers of arms if it is felt probable that such a petition will be accepted. There are no fixed criteria of eligibility for a grant of arms, but such things as awards or honours from the Crown, civil or military commissions, university degrees, professional qualifications, public and charitable services, and eminence or good standing in national or local life, are taken into account. When approaching a herald with a view to petitioning for a grant of arms it is desirable to submit a curriculum vitae.
    If the Earl Marshal approves a petition he will issue his Warrant to the Kings of Arms allowing them to proceed with the grant. At this stage the designing of the arms will begin. The Kings of Arms have full discretion over the design of the armorial bearings they grant, but the wishes of the applicant are taken into account as fully as possible. The officer of arms who is acting for the petitioner will discuss with him or her the allusions and references he or she would like made in the design. Simplicity and boldness make for the best heraldic design and it is a mistake to seek the inclusion of too many references. The officer will, through his experience and knowledge of many thousands of coats of arms, be able to warn the petitioner of what is heraldically trite. The design must be proper heraldry and be distinct from all previous arms on record at the College.
    The best heraldic design is usually achieved if the petitioner gives his wishes in fairly general terms leaving the herald certain scope for inclusion or exclusion. References in the design could be made to the grantees profession, family, interests or place of residence or origin. Visual quotations may be made from the arms of institutions with which he or she is particularly associated. There is a long tradition of puns in heraldry, some of them obvious, others less so.

How much does it cost? Currency Converter

    When the memorial is submitted the fees due upon a grant of arms become payable. Such fees are laid down by Earl Marshal's Warrant. From 1 January 2000 the fees payable upon a personal grant of arms and crest will be £2,925, a similar grant to an impersonal but non-profit making body, £6,400, and to a commercial company, £9,600. Where a grant of a badge or supporters, or the exemplification of a standard is also made a further fee is payable. Those wishing to know further details of the fee structure should contact the officer in waiting at the College of Arms.

Proving a right to arms by descent

    British Armorial bearings are hereditary. They can be borne and used by all the descendants in the legitimate male line of the person to whom they were originally granted or confirmed. To establish a right to arms by inheritance it is necessary to prove a descent from an ancestor who is already recorded as entitled to arms in the registers of the College of Arms.
    The first step in establishing whether there might be a possibility of having a right to arms by descent is to approach the officer in waiting at the College of Arms with what details one has of one's paternal ancestry. He will then be able to advise on the cost of having a search made in the official records for coats of arms recorded for families of one's name. The search may show that no family of the name has possessed arms or that one or more have done so. If the latter, and no known ancestor of the enquirer has been found on official record, the next stage will be genealogical research in records outside the College. This would be undertaken to extend the enquirer's pedigree to see if a connection with an armigerous family could be found.

Scotland

The Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms
HM New Register House
Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Scotland

Tel. 0131 556 7255

Fax. 0131 557 2148

How does one apply for arms (matriculate)?

    To establish a right to a Scots coat of arms you must prove that you are the heir to it. A Scots coat of arms can only be borne by one person at a time. Whether or not you are the heir depends on various conditions which would have been set out in the original grant. Even if you are not the heir to the arms, you may apply to re-matriculate cadet arms, which is where cadency comes in.
    Scottish heraldic cadency generally works by the addition of borders (bordures in heraldic language) to the main coat of arms. The bordure for a second son is generally gold (or) unless that conflicts with the colour of the background of the shield (the field). If the descent is through more than one younger son, there would have to be other differences made. This generally would take the form of one or all of the following - varying the partition line of the bordure (engrailed, invected, etc), altering the bordure itself (making it say, quarterly or and gules, or chequy), or placing additional charges upon it. This is all best explained visually and can be seen in Innes of Learney or Moncreiffe and Pottinger. Exactly what you get depends on what the Lord Lyon decides.
    As an American, it is quite easy to apply for a Scottish grant of arms. You find an ancestor who was born in Scotland and either re-matriculate his arms (appropriately differenced) or apply for a grant in his memory and then re-matriculate these new arms. Sir Thomas Innes' book 'Scots Heraldry' gives samples of the appropriate petitions for either a new grant or a rematriculation. You may also wish to register your genealogy which gives it legal status and would make re-matriculating easier for other relatives in the future. Heraldry is very strictly controlled in Scotland, so you need to make sure that the family genealogy is fit to stand up to legal examination.

There are a range of fees payable for the matriculation of arms. The list below was accurate as at 1997 Currency Converter

  • New Grant including Shield, crest, motto & supporters £1,771

  • Re-matriculation of previously recorded arms including shield, crest and motto, with grant of new supporters £891
  • Re-matriculation of previously recorded arms including shield, crest and supporters, £609
  • New grant including shield and crest £1,269
  • New grant including shield alone £817
  • Re-matriculation of previously recorded arms including shield and crest £385

Additional charges may be made for extra painting work and for postage.

Netherlands

Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie
Postbus 11755
2502 AT Den Haag
Netherlands

Telephone: +70 3150570

Fax: +70 3478394

    In the Netherlands anyone is entitled to bear a coat of arms, whether old or newly designed, in his own rights. Special permission from an official heraldic college or institute to bear a coat of arms is not required. This does not mean that one is allowed to take and bear any coat of arms one has chosen. It is a good heraldic custom not to bear anyone else's coat of arms. The coats of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, its provinces and municipalities, as well as the coats of arms of the Dutch nobilty, however, are legally protected. They are conferred or confirmed by Royal Decree and further registered by the Supreme Council of the Nobility
    From 1971 onward at the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie the opportunity exists to register a coat of arms borne in the Netherlands or borne by families of Dutch origin living abroad. Although it does not mean legal protection, registration and publication have a beneficial effect in protecting against heraldic interlopers in the Netherlands and other countries.

Cost: Unknown

U.S.A.

The American College of Heraldry

Note: The College does not have any statutory right to grant arms and registered arms have no legal standing.

Background

    The College is quite flexible in its attempt to serve the heraldic needs of the public. One may become a member and also register a coat of arms. Or, one may elect to become a member without registering a coat of arms, or indeed without even having one. Or, one may register a coat of arms without ever becoming a member. While the College's primary focus is naturally on the heraldry of America, nevertheless, the College's membership and interests are international in scope and the College continues to welcome the membership of persons residing abroad and to welcome the registration of their arms. The Armiger's News is a quarterly newsletter published by the college. It is received without cost by the membership and is available by subscription to other individuals, institutions and libraries. Those coats of arms Registered by the College are also published in both its aforementioned journal and in its roll of arms, a publication appearing in book form.

The Registration of Recognized Arms

    The College registers and publishes coats of arms which have been rightfully granted, certified, registered or otherwise recognized by an office of arms. Proof of such recognition and proof that the individual is personally eligible to bear the arms must accompany the application. The College has registered very ancient arms of this type as well as some which were more recently created. These arms originated in, or, have been recognized by most of the major offices of arms abroad.

The Registration of Unrecognized Arms

    The College also registers and publishes arms of persons who have borne unregistered or unregulated arms in their family for some extended period. The College further registers and publishes the arms of those who have personally assumed arms of recent origin and now desire to have them duly registered and recognized by the heraldic community. The College will seldom register arms for persons residing abroad.

The Registration of New Arms

    Numerous individuals have no coat of arms of their own and desire the College's assistance in the creation of a pleasing and meaningful design which is technically correct. Following one's application, the College's President assigns a representative to work with the applicant to develop a coat of arms. When the design has been completed and agreed upon, the applicant assumes the arms for his own use and for the use of his descendants. Then the College duly registers his coat of arms and announces the registration in its publication - The Armiger's News.

Who may apply?

    Even though it is The American College of Heraldry, that title is more geographic than demographic - although the College is headquartered in the United States, its membership is international, including England, Germany, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Scotland, Austria, Poland, Australia, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand.

How much will it cost? Currency Converter

    The College's rates for services rendered are currently as follows:

    • Annual Membership in The American College of Heraldry (includes 1 year subscription to The Armiger's News) - US$39.95
    • Registration of Arms with the College (includes, if necessary, design assistance with Arms) - one-time fee of $US325
    • Annual Membership PLUS Registration of Arms with the College - US$350

South Africa

The State Herald
Bureau of Heraldry
Private Bag X236
Pretoria 0001
South Africa

Tel : +27-12-323-5300
Fax: +27-12-323-5287

Background

    The South African Bureau of Heraldry is currently the least expensive official heraldic authority with which you may register a coat of arms...It is also the most egalitarian: anyone may apply to the State Herald for the registration of Arms, regardless of nationality, race, gender, religion, etc...He will not, however, allow posthumous registrations, and the Arms must, of course, be heraldically correct and not infringe on any other registered Arms.

Who may apply?

    Anyone

How much will it cost? (Current as of 1 November 1997) Currency Exchange US$1 = R8 (as of July 2001) Currency Converter

1. In these tariffs, unless the context otherwise indicates:

     (i) "the Act" means the Heraldry Act 1962 (Act No. 18 of 1962), as amended, and
     (ii) "crest" includes a coronet, helmet and mantling.

2. An application for the registration (or amendment) of a heraldic representation shall be accompanied by an initial amount of ...

R250

3. After the State Herald has notified an applicant that there have been no objections to the proposed registration, the balance of the fee indicated below shall be payable to the Bureau before the notice of registration is published, the particulars are entered in the register and a certificate of registration is issued, viz. :

    (a) Registration (or amendment) of a badge, flag, pennant, gonfalon, decoration, medal, seal, insignia of rank, any office or order or other kindred representation, excluding a coat of arms ...

R660

    (b) Registration (or amendment) of -

       (i) arms consisting of a shield only ...

R550

       (ii) arms with a crest ...

R1400

       (iii) arms with a crest and supporters ...

R1850

       (iv) arms complete with crest, supporters and special compartment ...

R2120

4. Registration of the arms, badge or other emblem of a heraldic heir in conformity with the principles and rules of heraldry and the policy of the Council, or where the name of the registered owner has been legally changed (payable by means of a single amount) -

    (a) by means of a notification in the Government Gazette and an entry in the register only ...

R120

    (b) where a new certificate of registration is required and for the issue of (with the approval of the Heraldry Council), a duplicate certificate in respect of -

       (i) a badge, etc. as in 3(a) above ...

R425

       (ii) arms consisting of a shield only ...

R390

       (iii) arms with a crest ...

R800

       (iv) arms with a crest and supporters ...

R1000

       (v) arms complete with crest, supporters and special compartment ...

R1065

5. The registration (or amendment) of a name, a special name and a uniform ...

R210

6. For an appeal to the Council against a decision by the State Herald, or the Heraldry Committee (provided that if the appeal is upheld, such amount shall be refunded).

R50

7. Correction of an error in any document submitted in terms of the Act, or of an entry in the register in the Bureau, where the error originated with the applicant ...

R100

8. Additional drawings of a registered -

     (a) badge, etc. as in 3(a) above ...

R280

     (b) arms consisting of a shield only ...

R240

     (c) arms with a crest ...

R565

     (d) arms with a crest and supporters ...

R750

     (e) arms complete with a crest, supporters and special compartment ...

R780

9. Fees due to the Bureau shall be payable in cash, postal order or by cheque made out to the State Herald. Payments from outside the Republic of South Africa should be by means of a bank draft drawn in Rands on a South African Commercial Bank.

Application Form:

Czech Republic

The Academy of Heraldic Sciences of Czech Republic (AHN)

Akademie heraldickych nauk Ceske republiky, o.s.
Foltynova 15, CZ 635 00 Brno

The objective of Academy is to support scientific research in the field of auxiliary historical sciences, especially in heraldry, genealogy, vexillology, sphragistics etc. In order to perform its tasks, The Academy organizes changes of information between its members, especially by organizing public lectures, talks, publishing specialized publications and papers, by running web sites etc. The Academy publishes professional opinions in field of heraldry and is allowed to register coats of arms, seals, flags and insignia.

Cost: Unknown

International Register of Armorial Bearings

Burke’s Peerage & Gentry International Register of Arms is a register of armorial bearings in current use throughout the world which includes the names, addresses and family biographies of the bearers along with the rationale and history behind their use and design. This fully illustrated record of contemporary Coats of Arms used internationally is the precursor to the publication of a prestigious work in book form.

The armorial bearings of persons resident in countries with an existing law of arms and/or granting authority [or former Granting Authority] will only be accepted where they have been granted, recorded or matriculated by the recognised granting authority and that they are the rightful arms of the applicant. Where armorial bearings are being claimed or used by way of “ancient usage” the editor may ask to see a recent matriculation or exemplification of the arms before they can be recorded against the name of the present bearer.
In cases where, for example, a citizen of the United States of America is using armorial bearings by descent from an armigerous ancestor who emigrated to the USA from, say, England or Scotland where the arms were granted to said ancestor, the editor will expect to see a recent matriculation or exemplification of the arms or genealogical proof of descent from an armiger. In the event that the armiger is not inclined to matriculate his/her arms with a heraldic authority or provide genealogical proof of descent from an armiger the arms will be registered as ‘assumed arms’ (see below).
The “status” of arms in the Register will be recorded as Granted, Recorded or Matriculated; alongside a record of the relevant granting authority where there is one. In cases where there is no lawful granting authority the arms will be shown as “assumed” and the date of assumption recorded. The College of Arms (England) has adopted the practice of granting honorary arms to “foreigners”; such arms will be recorded as honorary.
Subject to the discretion of the editor all 'assumed' arms will be required to have first been accepted and registered with some form of registration organisation or heraldry society within the relevant host nation. Burke's intend the publication to be a register of already existing arms that conform to the laws, customs, and traditions of the country where the arms originate. Where laws and customs governing external additaments are undefined, the register will record only a basic achievement.
Where the applicant uses a title or titles or their armorial bearings feature additaments such as awards and medals, ecclesiastical hats or supporters and coronets of rank the applicant will be expected to assure the editor that they are genuinely entitled to them and that the awards and titles themselves stem from genuine authorities. The Editors decision will be final.
It will be the aim of the editor to ensure that all armorial bearings within the International Armorial are genuine and the persons whose names are included therein will be expected to give an undertaking that the information they have furnished is true in every respect. Where an armiger uses assumed arms he will be expected to satisfy the register that prior to their assumption every effort was made to ensure that the blazon could not be mistaken for any other coat of arms already in use by another person, body or corporation. If, however the editor should discover, that any record may not conform to the information supplied then the relevant entry may be deleted from the register until the point at issue has been resolved.
Applicants are advised that if they are in any doubt about the acceptability of their armorial bearings they should make prior enquiries. The Armorial Register reserves the right not to accept any application. Where a substantial amount of work or research has been undertaken on any application which proves to be unsuitable for the register (i.e self styled (bogus) titles or no legitimate right to use of arms or additaments) we reserve the right to recoup any costs incurred.

Cost: £50

 

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