Foreign Armorial Grants and Registrations for Americans

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Countries
    1. 2.1 Belgium
    2. 2.2 Canada
    3. 2.3 Czech Republic
    4. 2.4 Denmark
    5. 2.5 Finland
    6. 2.6 France
    7. 2.7 Germany
    8. 2.8 International
    9. 2.9 Ireland
    10. 2.10 Italy
    11. 2.11 Kenya
    12. 2.12 Lithuania
    13. 2.13 Macedonia
    14. 2.14 Netherlands
    15. 2.15 New Zealand
    16. 2.16 Norway
    17. 2.17 Poland
    18. 2.18 Portugal
    19. 2.19 Russia
    20. 2.20 Serbia
    21. 2.21 Slovakia
    22. 2.22 South Africa
    23. 2.23 Spain
    24. 2.24 Sweden
    25. 2.25 Switzerland
    26. 2.26 United Kingdom - England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
    27. 2.27 United Kingdom - Scotland
    28. 2.28 Zimbabwe
  3. 3. Acknowledgment

1.  Introduction

Anyone in the United States who wishes to bear a coat of arms has the option of either designing and adopting one of his or her own choice or approaching the heraldic authority of a foreign country for a grant or registration of arms according to that country's laws. While such a foreign grant often purports to convey an exclusive to the arms granted, that right is generally enforceable only within the jurisdiction of the granting authority's courts. Within the United States, arms adopted unilaterally and arms granted by a foreign heraldic authority have the same legal standing; no foreign grant conveys any rights that can be enforced in an American court.

Nevertheless, many Americans have a legitimate interest in having arms formally granted or registered in another country. In some cases, they contemplate living in a place where the laws offer a measure of protection of personal heraldry; in others, they wish to use their arms in the context of an organization, such as a chivalric order, that requires the arms be given “official” status. Often, they simply wish for sentimental reasons to establish a heraldic connection with the country from which their ancestors emigrated to the New World.

Provided that the applicant understands what he is getting for the often substantial sums of money that can be involved, there is nothing objectionable or unpatriotic about an American citizen’s seeking a grant, certification, or registration of arms from a foreign authority. However, in addition to the points about validity and legal protection mentioned above, he should understand that being granted by a foreign authority does not make his arms “better” than others and that the grant of arms does not make him noble or socially superior in any other way to those who do not have such grants, regardless of any theories about the nature of arms current in the foreign jurisdiction concerned. If the armiger’s sole concern is to have his arms placed on record somewhere, he or she should also keep in mind that at least four private organizations in the United States provide this same service.

In that light, the following information is provided to assist those who might be interested in pursuing grants or certifications of new arms or having their assumed arms registered or recorded in other countries. While we have endeavored to make this information as accurate as possible, we cannot offer any guarantees. We would welcome any additional information or corrections concerning heraldic registration practices in these or other countries. For authoritative guidance, please contact the institution concerned.

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2.  Countries

2.1  Belgium

Belgians who are granted noble status as an honor from the King concurrently receive a new grant of arms or have their previously used arms recognized as noble by the Council of the Nobility (Conseil de Noblesse). Official recognition of non-noble arms is within the jurisdiction of the three linguistic communities, French, Flemish (Dutch), and German. Private assumption of arms is entirely legal, and arms that have been openly used or published can be defended in the civil courts against misappropriation.

The Flemish Heraldic Council (Vlaamse Heraldische Raad), a department of the Flemish community administration, grants arms to Belgians resident in the Dutch-speaking region of the country as well as Brussels. Such arms are then legally protected under Belgian law. As of 2001, the fee to register arms was €500, with additional fees charged depending on the elaborateness of the certificate recording the grant or registration.

The Council on Heraldry and Vexillology of the French Community of Belgium (Conseil d’héraldique et de vexillologie de la Communauté française de Belgique) provides this same service to Belgians resident in the French-speaking region as well as Brussels. The fee is €500 for an initial registration, or €150 to transfer arms from one of the unofficial registries described below. The Council can be addressed in care of the Service général du Patrimoine culturel et des Arts plastiques boulevard Léopold II 44, 1080 Brussels.

Two private organizations involved in recording personal arms in Belgium have been accorded official recognition by law, in that people who have registered arms with them may transfer the registration to the official community heraldic councils at a reduced charge during the initial set-up period of the community councils.

The Royal Belgian Genealogical and Heraldic Office (Association royale Office Généalogique et Héraldique de Belgique) has registered the family arms of its members since 1954. The arms registered were published in the association's journal, Le Parchemin. While the OGHB is not a government agency, it enjoys royal patronage and government subsidies and is therefore seen as having a status somewhat greater than a purely private organization. According to the society’s website, this registration service has been terminated as of 2011 owing to the establishment of the two official heraldic registries serving the vast majority of the country.

The Heraldic College of the Flemish Genealogical Society (Heraldisch College van de Vlaamse Vereniging voor Familiekunde), registers both pre-existing and newly assumed arms and publishes them in its journal, Vlaamse Stam. The price is €175 for members of the society and €275 for non-members.

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2.2  Canada

The Canadian Heraldic Authority grants arms only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents and registers arms granted to people in these two categories by foreign authorities. Its services are not available to foreigners resident outside Canada.

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2.3  Czech Republic

While civic arms in the Czech Republic are governed by the Parliament's Heraldic Committee, personal arms are completely unregulated. However, two private organizations operate unofficial registers of personal arms:

In addition to providing an educational and publishing program, the Czech Genealogy and Heraldry Society in Prague, founded in 1969, maintains a register of personal arms that is available on-line (in Czech only) at the society's website. It also publishes the periodical Genealogicke a heraldicke listy.

The Academy of Heraldic Sciences of the Czech Republic, founded in 2004, is primarily a research organization, but it also registers coats of arms, seals, flags, and insignia. Its register is also available on-line in Czech at the academy's website. An English-language summary of the academy's activities is linked from the same page.

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2.4  Denmark

There is no formal system of officially granting arms in Denmark, although the monarch apparently still has the power to do so if she wishes. Arms were formerly granted to those who were ennobled by the monarch and, on rare occasions, to non-nobles. However, no new nobles have been created in Denmark, other than noble titles conferred on members of the royal family, for nearly a century. Non-noble arms have always been self-assumed. Personal arms could formerly be registered in the privately maintained Danske Herold, but the keepers of this register are now deceased and no new entries are being accepted. However, Danes and persons of Danish extraction may record their arms in the Skandinavisk Vappenrulla (see Sweden).

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2.5  Finland

The Finnish Riddarhus (House of the Nobility) maintains a register of the arms granted to noble families before 1919. Since that date, no new nobles have been created and no new grants of arms have been issued, although the old titles and arms are still officially recognized by the Republic. Outside the pre-1919 nobility, Finns are free to adopt and use arms of their own choosing with no official restrictions, registration, or protection.


The Heraldry Society of Finland (Suomen Heraldinen Seura/Heraldiska Sällskap i Finland) registers arms of anyone permanently resident in Finland, whether of Finnish or foreign nationality, as well as those of Finnish citizens living elsewhere. The rules of the society's registry permit the registration of the arms of non-citizens living abroad under special circumstances, but a member of the society's registration committee tells us he believes that this authority has never been exercised. The current price of registration is €40.

In addition, it is possible to record one's arms in the heraldic archive maintained by the Collegium Heraldicum Fennicum, an organization of heraldic artists, craftsmen, and researchers. The CHF can provide a painted diploma stating that particular armorial bearings have been entered in its archives.

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2.6  France

French law recognizes arms as a form of property and “a cognizance accessory to the family name to which they are indissolubly attached.” A person’s right to a particular coat of arms and his ability to defend them against usurpation are based on his establishing that he was using them by a “date certain.”

There is no state role in granting, authorizing, or certifying personal arms, but pursuant to a February 2015 ministerial decision, the Commission Nationale d'Héraldique (CNH, an official organization subordinate to the Ministry of Culture and Communications) to begin registering such arms. The commission will register arms that comply with heraldic norms and publishes the registrations in both print and digital form, but the registration in itself does not in itself prove the registrant's right to the arms against other persons who may have a claim to them. Such disputes can be resolved only in the courts, not by the commission. We have no information on whether foreigners of French origin can register arms with the CNH.

The most highly respected French heraldic association, the Société Française d'Héraldique et de Sigillographie (French Heraldry and Sigillography Society), advised prior to the decision permitting the CNH to register personal arms, that the best way to establish a date certain for newly devised arms was to go to a notary's office and execute a legal document before witnesses asserting claim to the arms. The notary retains a copy of the document for his official archives, which are then regularly transferred to the archives of the department (one of France’s geographic and administrative subdivisions) in which his office is located. The notary will charge a fee for preparing, witnessing, and filing the document, generally around 200-250€ according to the website of the French heraldic artist Laurent Granier.

A date certain can also be legally established by the arms’ appearance in a publication deposited in the copyright registry. Several private organizations and enterprises offer such a publication service for newly composed arms. One of these, the French Council of Heraldry (Conseil Français d'Héraldique) registers and publishes such arms in its Armorial du XX° siècle et du III° millénaire. The registration fee, including the issuance of a brevet d’armoiries (certificate of arms) and publication in color in the council’s armorial, is presently 115€. The council’s services are available to persons of French descent. Customers should understand that, despite the name, the Council is not an official agency of the French Republic.

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2.7  Germany

There have never been any restrictions on the assumption of personal arms in Germany. Personal arms that have been published enjoy legal protection under section 12 of the Code of Civil Law (Bürgerlich Gesetzbuch). While it is possible to design and publish one’s own arms, most Germans adopting new arms or claiming a right to existing arms work through various private non-profit heraldic organizations that exist in part for certifying, registering, and publishing claims to inherited as well as newly adopted arms. These societies, which often focus on one Land (State) or region of Germany, may recommend changes to ensure compliance with the customary rules of heraldry and to avoid duplication of existing arms. They may also refuse to register arms that do not comply. There are also several for-profit companies that legally devise and publish arms, but we list below only some of the most respected non-profit organizations:


“Der Herold,” Verein für Heraldik, Genealogie und Verwandte Wissenschaften (“The Herald” Association for Heraldry, Genealogy, and Related Sciences), in Berlin, publishes arms in the Deutsche Wappenrolle Bürgerlicher Geschlechter. Registration is open to persons “in the German cultural area,” which the association defines as families who have lived in a German-speaking area for three generations as well as those who are German by descent or affiliation.

Heraldische Verein “Zum Kleeblatt” (“The Cloverleaf” Heraldry Association), in Hanover, publishes the Niedersachsisches Wappenrolle. The registration fee is €130; the society’s website does not mention criteria as to who may register arms.

“Der Wappen-Löwe” Heraldische Gesellschaft (“The Armorial Lion” Heraldry Society), in Munich, publishes arms in Der Wappen-Löwe. The society’s website does not mention criteria as to who may register arms through the society.

The Hessische Wappenrolle, sponsored by the Hessian Family History Association (Hessische familiengeschichtliche Vereinigung) registers both old and newly devised arms of people in Hesse or of Hessian ancestry. The arms registered are published in the quarterly journal Hessische Familienkunde and in the bound volumes of the Wappenrolle.

The Historischer und Kultereller Förderverein Schloß Alsbach (Historical and Cultural Research Association of Alsbach Castle), publishes the Rhein-Main Wappenrolle. The fees run from €350-€650 for registration and publication plus additional charges for preparation of the artwork if it is not provided by the applicant.

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2.8  International

The International Register of Arms, published by the Armorial Register Limited, is an unofficial private armorial registration service established in 2006 and serving residents of any country. It accepts both arms granted by official authorities as well as those assumed in countries where no such official authority exists. The register is published both on-line and in book form. In addition, the British Library's UK Web Archive has agreed to archive the Armorial Register’s Website twice per year, ensuring the permanent preservation of the register and all changes to it.

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2.9  Ireland

The Chief Herald of Ireland grants arms to Irish citizens and residents and to those with a connection to Ireland. Irish ancestry in either the male or female line is considered a sufficient connection for the granting of arms. The most recently published fee for a personal grant was €3300, which included an illuminated certificate of the grant. For current fees, contact the Office of the Chief Herald. Arms granted by the Chief Herald enjoy legal protection under Irish law.

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2.10  Italy

As far as we know, no organized system exists in Italy to register or record newly adopted personal arms, although there seems to be no prohibition against such assumed arms.

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2.11  Kenya

Heraldic regulation was established in Kenya under the College of Arms Act, which provides for the granting of new arms and the registration of arms granted by heraldic authorities of other countries. The college operates under the supervision of the Attorney General as part of the State Law Office. Registration services are available to non-Kenyans. Applications should specify whether existing arms to be registered were granted by another authority or assumed. As of 2010, a registration cost about U.S. $140. No emblazonment is provided when registering existing arms, only for new grants. Those needing more detailed information should contact the Registrar of the College of Arms, at 254-20-227461 (from the United States, dial 011 before the number; from other countries, use the applicable international prefix). Mail should be directed to:

College of Arms
Department of the Registrar-General Department
P. 0. Box 30031-00100
Nairobi, Kenya

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2.12  Lithuania

While there is no prohibition against the assumption of personal arms in Lithuania, there is also no tradition of the use of armorial bearings by non-nobles. Traditionally, arms have been either inherited, granted in connection with ennoblement, or (before 1605) extended to new nobles throughy a process of heraldic adoption similar to that in Poland. As in Poland, some Lithuanian arms are common to a number of noble families claiming a common ancestry or affiliation as a heraldic clan. A private society, the Lithuanian Royal Union of Nobility, maintains a register of the arms of the nobility. There is no provision for registration of assumed non-noble arms.

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2.13  Macedonia

Arms may be freely assumed in Macedonia. The Macedonian Heraldry Society, a private society, established an unofficial heraldic register of both historic as well as newly devised arms in 2004.

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2.14  Netherlands

Personal or family arms are freely assumable in the Netherlands. They may be registered and publicly documented through the following recognized (but unofficial) organizations, although such registration does not provide legal protection:

The Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie (Central Bureau for Genealogy) maintains records of both inherited and new arms, including those of persons of Dutch ancestry living abroad. The CBG has maintained its Wapenregister since 1971, and published all new registrations in the Jaarboek van het Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie since 1972. The Wapenregister is now available as a searchable database at the bureau’s website (in Dutch). As of early 2014, the CBG has suspended further registrations to focus on digitization of existing entries.

The Nederlandse Genealogische Vereniging (Netherlands Genealogical Society) has maintained a registry of family arms through its heraldic section since 1994. Registrations are announced in the publications Gens Nostra and Heraldisch Tijdschrift, and the arms are published in the Register van Familiewapens NGV. Registration costs €72. The society also provides free advice on heraldry to those assuming arms, although a voluntary contribution of €25 is suggested. For more information, see the website of the heraldic section (in Dutch).

The Fryske Rie foar Heraldyk (Frisian Heraldry Board), part of the Frisian Academy, designs and registers arms for families in Frisia and for Frisians abroad and publishes them in its Genealogyske Jierboek.

The Drents Heraldisch College (Drenthe Heraldic College) registers both new and existing arms for families in the province of Drenthe. It is not clear whether it also serves descendants of people from this province, and we have no current contact information.

The Consultancy for Heraldry of the Province of Groningen (Consulentschap voor Heraldiek in de Provincie Groningen) registers new arms and advises those adopting them about their design. We do not know whether it will provide services to those outside the province.

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2.15  New Zealand

On February 6, 1978, Queen Elizabeth II established the office of New Zealand Herald of Arms to provide liaison between the English College of Arms and New Zealanders seeking grants of arms. New Zealand Herald has no authority to grant arms on his own authority, but rather handles the details of processing grants that are actually issued to New Zealanders by the English kings of arms with the approval of the English Earl Marshal. It would appear that his services are available only to New Zealand citizens and corporate bodies. For more information, see the official website.

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2.16  Norway

Personal arms are freely assumed in Norway without any official regulation, registration, or protection. Norwegians and persons of Norwegian extraction may record their arms in the Skandinavisk Vappenrulla (see Sweden).

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2.17  Poland

Although Poland has a rich tradition of personal heraldry, there has never been a Polish heraldic authority or any official procedure for granting, registering, or verifying personal armorial bearings. Poland has a Heraldic Commission established by the Ministry of the Interior, but it concerns itself only with state and civic arms. The majority of Polish personal arms, and the ones which give Polish heraldry its distinctive character, are those of the ancient nobility, which were neither granted nor assumed but evolved from pre-heraldic clan identification symbols of obscure origin. Thus, with few exceptions, there has historically been been very little scope in Polish heraldic tradition for the creation of new personal arms. The most significant exceptions were arms created incidental to the ennoblement of specific individuals by the king or parliament from the 15th to 18th centuries. In addition, a select number of wealthy patrician families in important mercantile cities adopted arms of their own devising. Other than the arms of these merchant princes and those adopted by prelates of the Church in connection with their ecclesiastical offices, the concept of newly assumed arms has traditionally had no place in Polish heraldic custom, even though there was no actual legal prohibition against them.

However, in 2010 a private association called the Polish Heraldic Community (Polska Wspolnota Heraldyczna) was established with a focus on contemporary burgher (non-noble) heraldry. The association has taken over the registration of new coats of arms the Roll of Arms "Nova Heraldia," established in 2004. The association's website is only in Polish for the present.

Polish law does recognize established, historical arms as the inalienable property of the families to whom the arms pertain, and there is limited protection for such arms available through civil legal actions. It is not clear whether newly assumed arms would be accorded the same protection by the courts.

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2.18  Portugal

Bearing of arms by non-nobles was prohibited by royal decree in 1512, but both nobiliary privileges and official control of personal arms were abolished at the time of the revolution in 1910. It is now permissible for anyone in Portugal to assume and use arms, but we are not aware of any formal procedures in existence to register or record them.

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2.19  Russia

In 1992, following the dissolution of the USSR, a Russian state heraldic service was established in the Presidential administration, now officially known as the Heraldic Council to the President of the Russian Federation (Geraldichskiy Sovet pri Prezidente Rossiiskoi Federatsiy). The institution has focused primarily on the design, approval, and registration of territorial, ministerial, and municipal arms, flags and emblems, although its statutes did not restrict it to these areas, and for a few years the Council did examine and confirm personal arms, upon request, for compliance with traditional Russian heraldic norms. However, as a matter of policy it is not involved in personal heraldry at the present time.

Several of the Russian Federation's provinces and republics have heraldic commissions which will register personal arms under certain conditions. These include Sverdlovsk Oblast [Province] and the republics of Mari El, Tatarstan, and Sakha (Yakutia).

The Sverdlovsk Commission on Symbols will reportedly register arms without any nationality or residency requirements. Registration is free, but the applicant must pay the costs of the heraldic painting included on the certificate, which can run to several hundred dollars depending on complexity.
Tatarstan requires proof of Tatar descent or some kind of significant link to the republic. Mari El's requirements are similar, while Yakutia registers arms only for persons who have already received other honors from the republic.

Besides these official bodies, a private organization called the Russian College of Heraldry (Russkaya Geraldicheskaya Kollegiya/Collegium Heraldicum Russiæ) was founded in 1991 for the purpose of creating, producing, registering, and publishing armorial bearings. We have no current information as to whether the CHR is still in operation.

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2.20  Serbia

The “White Eagle” Serbian Heraldry Society (Srpsko Kheraldichko Drushtvo “Beli Orao”) is a private organization established to design and register new arms and, in concert with the affiliated Serbian Genealogical Society, to certify the hereditary right to pre-existing arms.

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2.21  Slovakia

The Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic operates an official Heraldic Register (Heraldický register Slovenskej republiky) which includes not only civic, ecclesiastical, and organizational arms but personal arms as well. Arms submitted for registration must conform to traditional rules of heraldic composition. The registrant receives a calligraphed certificate with a color illustration of the arms. We have no information on whether the ministry will register arms for non-residents of Slovakia. For further information, contact the Heraldic Register at:

Ministerstvo vnútra SR
Križkova 7
811 04 Bratislava, Slovakia

The telephone number is 421-2-52496051 (U.S. callers must dial 011 before the number; others use the appropriate international dialing prefix).

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2.22  South Africa

The South African Bureau of Heraldry registers and publishes newly adopted arms for applicants of whatever national background or domicile. The registration of new arms with crest is currently priced at 5060 rands (US $435 at early 2015 exchange rates). This includes a certificate with a full-color depiction of the arms. Registrations are published in the Government Gazette and recorded in both a bound register and in a publicly accessible electronic database. Although there are no restrictions on the use of personal heraldry in South Africa, only arms registered with the bureau enjoy legal protection there.

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2.23  Spain

The oversight of personal heraldry in Spain is entrusted to officials known as cronistas de armas, or "chroniclers of arms." Under a 1951 decree, cronistas who have passed an examination and been certified by the Ministry of Justice are permitted to certify an individual's right to use a particular coat of arms. As interpreted by various cronistas, such a right may be acquired either by inheritance or by the adoption of a new armorial design. A chronicler's certification, which is valid only with the countersignature of an official of the Ministry of Justice, reportedly entitles the arms to legal protection under Spanish law, but has no official standing beyond that. Like notaries in civil law jurisdictions, chroniclers are personally responsible for the correctness of acts carried out in the performance of their duties. Under the terms of earlier decrees and regulations, each chronicler is authorized, at his own discretion, to certify arms for anyone living in any place that was ever under the dominion of the Spanish crown.

At the present time, however, it appears that there are no cronistas possessing Ministry of Justice approval to certify personal arms, the last holder of that title having died in December 2005. Don Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, Marqués de La Floresta, who was appointed Cronista de Armas de Castilla y León by the regional government of Castile and Leon in 1991, has issued certifications of personal arms in the past, but the Spanish Council of State ruled in 1995 that his authority extended only to the area of provincial and municipal heraldry within the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon, and that his certifications of personal arms were invalid.

It has been asserted that it is unlawful to bear arms in Spain without a chronicler's certification, but we have been unable to find any legal text supporting that view. Some Spanish heraldists maintain that it is possible to establish title to newly devised arms in Spain by executing a notarial act before witnesses.

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2.24  Sweden

Anyone in Sweden may freely adopt arms of his or her own devising, provided they do not usurp the arms of others. Several private organizations register such arms, but they are not legally protected in Sweden unless registered as logos under copyright laws.

The Svenskt Vapenregister (Swedish Registry of Arms) is a non-profit, non-governmental undertaking of the Swedish Heraldry Society (through a committee known as the Swedish Collegium of Arms) in cooperation with the Swedish National Committee for Genealogy and Heraldry. It registers the arms of non-noble Swedish citizens, residents, and private corporate bodies. Americans of Swedish descent may also apply for registration if the arms will be used in Sweden. The purpose of the registry is to help ensure that assumed arms conform to traditional heraldic standards and do not infringe on existing arms, and to make those arms publicly known. The registration includes publication on-line and an illustrated certificate of registration. The society also maintains a searchable on-line database of Swedish arms.


The Skandinavisk Vapenrulla (Scandinavian Roll of Arms ) is a private armorial registry operated by the Scandinavian Heraldry Society. It registers inherited arms and designs, registers, and publishes new arms. Its services are available to all persons of Scandinavian origin, whether living in Scandinavia or not.

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2.25  Switzerland

Arms in Switzerland have always been freely assumed without official control, and the use of heraldry by burgher and farming families is probably more widespread in Switzerland than in any other country. Many cantonal or municipal archives maintain collections of the arms of local families, although a few that formerly did so have privatized these collections, placing them in the custody of local residents with an interest in heraldry, as a budgetary measure. Some of the cantons accept the addition into these collections of newly adopted arms or newly discovered arms used by families from the canton in the past. It must be emphasized that recording arms in these collections does not constitute official registration of the arms. The cantonal government does not thereby vouch for the validity of the arms or any genealogical evidence submitted with them, and recording the arms does not offer any legal protection against their misuse. Among the cantons whose websites state that they are accepting new arms for recording are Basel-Land, Lucerne, and Vaud (Basel-Land and Lucerne in German, Vaud in French). A number of the cantons have digitized their collections and placed them on-line.

Several private and quasi-private organizations in Switzerland will help applicants design new arms and assist them in preparing the necessary documentation to enter them with the appropriate cantonal and local archives. In addition, some of these organizations maintain arms registries of their own, including:

Wappenkommission der Zünfte Zürichs (WAKO ZZ – Armorial Commission of the Zurich Guilds) registers arms for members of the Zurich guilds, private persons in Switzerland, and those able to document Swiss ancestry. The fee for the design and registration of new arms with a crest is 500 Swiss francs.

The Swiss Heraldic Society registers the arms of its members (shield only) for a fee of 110 Swiss francs. Membership is 90 Swiss francs a year.

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2.26  United Kingdom - England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Three “kings of arms” are authorized by the British Crown to grant arms to “eminent” persons in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. They also grant arms on an honorary basis to American citizens who can prove descent from a subject of the British crown. This would include, for example, an ancestor living in the American colonies before British recognition of U.S. independence in 1783. American citizens who have received an honor from the British crown are also eligible for honorary grants. Inquiries should be directed to the College of Arms, the corporate body comprising the kings of arms and their assisting heralds and pursuivants. As of 1 January 2015, the fee for a grant of personal arms is £5,550 (about U.S. $8,545), which includes an illuminated vellum certificate of the grant. Arms granted by the kings of arms purport to be legally protected within England, although the enforceability of this protection is open to question.

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2.27  United Kingdom - Scotland

The Lord Lyon King of Arms is empowered under Scottish law to grant arms to “virtuous and well-deserving” persons. He interprets his granting jurisdiction to include anyone domiciled in a territory subject to the British crown who is not of English, Welsh, or Irish descent. In addition, people who can prove descent in the direct male line from a person who would have fallen within this jurisdiction--such as a Scot living in the American colonies pre-1783--can apply for a grant of arms in the name of the ancestor, which are then matriculated with differences for cadency if the applicant is not the eldest son of the eldest son, and so on, back to the grantee. As of 1 April 2015, the fee is £2,386 (about U.S. $3,700) for a new grant of personal arms with shield and crest, plus an additional charge for the matriculation if required. Armorial bearings are protected by law in Scotland and it is against the law to use arms there unless they have been granted by Lord Lyon or matriculated in Lyon Register.

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2.28  Zimbabwe

In 1977, Zimbabwe passed a Heraldry Act, later confirmed at the time of independence in 1980, permitting the inclusion of personal arms in an official heraldic registry that had been set up earlier for the registration of institutional and society arms. Proposed arms would be provided to the registrar, who would then circulate the design to members of a state Heraldic Committee for their approval or recommended revisions. Once the committee approved the design, it would be announced in the Government Gazette, and if no objections were received within 60 days, a certificate of registration would be issued, which conferred legal protection against illicit misappropriation of the arms. It is not clear whether non-residents of Zimbabwe could register arms under this act. We have no information on whether the system is still functioning under the present political conditions in Zimbabwe.

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3.  Acknowledgment

The American Heraldry Society would like to thank the following for their assistance in compiling and verifying this information: J. Chr. Berlin, Jan Böhme, Klaas Padberg Evenboer, Derek Howard, Zdenek Kucera, Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, George Lucki, Michael Medvedev, Patrick M. O'Shea, Edward Ploysongsang, David Ashley Pritchard, Anders Segersven, and Nicolas Vernot.

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