The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Heraldry Today
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FAQ

Grants of Arms

Who may apply for a Grant of armorial bearings?

All Canadian citizens or corporate bodies (municipalities, societies, associations, institutions, etc.) may petition to receive a grant of armorial bearings.

What are the different types of armorial bearings?

Three categories of armorial bearings can be requested: coats of arms, flags and badges. A coat of arms is centred on a shield and may be displayed with a helmet, mantling, a crest and a motto (see Annex 1). A grant of supporters is limited to corporate bodies and to some individuals in specific categories.

What is the meaning of a Grant of Arms?

Grants of armorial bearings are honours from the Canadian Crown. They provide recognition for Canadian individuals and corporate bodies and the contributions they make both in Canada and elsewhere.

How does one apply for Arms?

Canadian citizens or corporate bodies desiring to be granted armorial bearings by lawful authority must send to the Chief Herald of Canada a letter stating the wish "to receive armorial bearings from the Canadian Crown under the powers exercised by the Governor General." Grants of armorial bearings, as an honour, recognize the contribution made to the community by the petitioner (either individual or corporate). The background information is therefore an important tool for the Chief Herald of Canada to assess the eligibility of the request.

What background information should individuals forward?

Individuals should forward: (1) proof of Canadian citizenship; (2) a current biographical sketch that includes educational and employment background, as well as details of voluntary and community service. They will also be asked to complete a personal information form protected under the Privacy Act, and may be asked for names of persons to be contacted as confidential references.

What background information should corporate bodies forward?

Corporate bodies should forward: (1) a brief history and the details of their incorporation in Canada; (2) a current annual report and financial statement; (3) a copy of the resolution from their governing body requesting the grant.

What are the steps in the grant procedure?

On the recommendation of the Chief Herald of Canada, the Herald Chancellor (the Secretary to the Governor General) or the Deputy Herald Chancellor (the Deputy Secretary, Chancellery) signs a warrant authorizing a grant of armorial bearings to be made. An invoice for processing fees is then sent to the petitioner. Once the processing fees have been paid, the herald, a specialist in the field of symbolism, begins work with the petitioner to determine the elements of a possible design, which must follow the rules of heraldry. Occasionally, the Chief Herald of Canada assigns one of the Authority's heraldic consultants to work on the first stage of the grant process, following the same procedures mentioned above. After the written description of the armorial bearings has been approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, it is sent to the petitioner for acceptance.

After the written description has been approved, a contract is signed between the petitioner and one of the Authority's artists, who then prepares preliminary artwork. This illustrates the symbols, proportions and colours of the armorial bearings. This preliminary design is reviewed by Fraser Herald, the Authority's principal artist, approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, and sent to the petitioner for approval. The third stage involves the preparation of the grant document. The petitioner decides what format of letters patent will be produced, either Option I or Option II. The letters patent are bilingual and the petitioner indicates which official language (English or French) is to be displayed on the left side. There are separate contracts for the final artwork and for the calligraphy of the document.

Called letters patent, this official document includes the final artistic illustration of the armorial bearings accompanied by a legal text. It is signed by the appropriate officials, and the seal of the Canadian Heraldic Authority is applied to it. The grant is entered in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and the official notice of the grant is published in Part I of the Canada Gazette under the title ‘Government House.’ It is also possible to have the design published in the Trade Marks Journal through the Authority's office procedures, upon payment of the fee required by the Registrar of Trade-marks.

How long does it take?

The average time required to complete a grant is 12 to 14 months after the warrant has been signed. The process can last longer if there are protracted discussions or if the volume of petitions received exceeds available staff resources. It is important to remember that grants of armorial bearings are made by the Crown to be valid forever. As a result, a sufficient amount of time is required to complete each grant.

How much does it cost?

The Government of Canada requires that the petitioner cover all direct costs related to the grant of armorial bearings. These costs are in two parts: (a) a fixed processing fee; (b) variable costs of artwork, research and letters patent preparation.

(a) The processing fee for all petitioners is fixed at $435 (plus HST) by Ministerial Order. An invoice for this fee is sent at the time the warrant authorizing the grant is signed. Please note that cheques forwarded before the invoice is sent will be returned. In most cases, the processing fee is sufficient to cover the cost of the research required for the grant. In cases requiring additional research, the petitioner will receive an estimate and will pay a supplementary fee to the researcher.

(b) The cost of one preliminary design ranges from $325 to $1,200 depending on the complexity of the design and the number of components. The cost increases if the petitioner wishes to make changes that require the creation of revised artwork. The cost of the letters patent depends on the option chosen by the petitioner, the complexity of the design, the number of components in the grant, and the inclusion of additional decoration. Two options are available for the letters patent.

In summary, the minimum cost of a grant of a coat of arms (shield, crest, helmet, mantling, and motto) is likely to be around $2,400, including the processing fee, one preliminary design and the letters patent (OPTION II). The choice of OPTION I, the need for additional preliminary artwork, or the inclusion of a flag, badge, shields for children, or decorative elements will result in additional costs. All artwork costs are paid by the petitioner directly to the Authority's artist assigned to the file. The maximum cost of the artwork is established before each stage of the process, and the petitioner indicates agreement by signing contracts. Artwork is forwarded to the petitioner by the Authority, together with the artist's invoice, payable within 30 days of receipt.

What are Option I and Option II documents?

Option I - one sheet (see Annex 2 for some examples)

  • dimensions: approximately 56 cm (22") high and 76 cm (30") wide;
  • heading: hand painted;
  • granting text: inscribed in calligraphy;
  • coat of arms, flag and badge hand painted, with 24k gold where applicable;
  • costs: approximately $2,225 to $3,500 for art and calligraphy.

Option II - two sheets (see Annex 3 for some examples)

  • dimensions: each sheet is 56 cm (22") high and 38 cm (15") wide;
  • heading: printed in colour;
  • sheet 1: text produced by computer;
  • sheet 2: coat of arms, flag, and badge hand painted, with 24k gold where applicable, with identifying text in calligraphy;
  • costs for the two sheets: approximately $875 to $2,000 for art and calligraphy.

Are there any other considerations to note?

The proposed armorial bearings must satisfy both the petitioner and the Chief Herald of Canada, who is responsible for following acceptable heraldic practice and for maintaining high aesthetic standards. To do this, the heralds aim to create meaningful and powerful designs using a limited number of symbols and colours, often in dramatic contrast. By determining what elements are most essential for inclusion and by taking advantage of the Authority's expertise, a petitioner can ensure the creation of a beautiful and lasting design.

The Sovereign of Canada, on the recommendation of the Governor General, must personally approve each use of the Royal Crown in Canadian armorial bearings.

Registrations of Arms

Who may apply for a Registration of Arms at the Canadian Heraldic Authority?

Canadian individuals and corporate bodies in possession of armorial bearings granted by recognized heraldic authorities of other sovereign countries may apply to register them in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. If research, new artwork or changes to the armorial bearings are required, then the request will be handled as a petition for a grant (see Granting Armorial Bearings in Canada).

What is the meaning of a Registration of Arms?

The meaning of a registration of arms in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada is that a coat of arms borne by a corporation or person which has been granted by an authority recognized by the Chief Herald of Canada is recorded in the Register. Such registrations are each assigned a page in the Register and indicate that the particular arms continue to be borne in Canada by the corporation or person. In the case of individuals, these registrations do not have any effect on the inheritance of these arms in Canada. If individuals wish to provide for the inheritance of their arms, they must apply for a separate Canadian grant for their children, which will include the registration of their own arms.

How does one apply for Registration of Arms?

A Canadian citizen or corporate body must send to the Chief Herald of Canada a letter indicating the wish to "register armorial bearings with the Canadian Heraldic Authority under powers exercised by the Governor General."

What background information should one forward?

The petitioner must provide: (1) a legible photograph (or photocopy) in colour of the official granting document, including the armorial bearings to be registered and the entire text; (2) in the case of inherited arms, proof of descent from the original grantee; (3) the same background information that is required for a grant (see Granting Armorial Bearings in Canada).

What are the steps in the Registration procedure?

The Chief Herald of Canada examines the claim and may accept it, require further proof, demand the addition of differences to individualize the arms, or rule the claim invalid for lack of proof. On the recommendation of the Chief Herald of Canada, the Herald Chancellor (the Secretary to the Governor General) or the Deputy Herald Chancellor (the Deputy Secretary, Chancellery) signs a warrant authorizing the registration. The registration is recorded in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and the official notice of the registration is published in Part I of the Canada Gazette under the title ‘Government House.’

What is the format of the Registration document?

The resulting document, called letters patent, consists of a printed bilingual text produced by computer. It is signed by the appropriate officials, and the seal of the Canadian Heraldic Authority is applied to it.

How long does it take?

The average time required to complete a registration is three months after the warrant has been signed. The process can last longer if there are protracted discussions or if the volume of petitions received exceeds available staff resources.

How much does it cost?

There is no cost for registering armorial bearings as long as the petitioner provides full documentation of the original grant.

Are there any other considerations to note?

The laws, customs, and heraldic rules of one country might not always be recognized by another country. Thus, the Chief Herald of Canada might accept a petition, but with limitations on what will be registered. It is important to note that certificates issued by private companies do not constitute entitlement to a registration of a coat of arms, flag, or badge.

Date modified: March 3, 2015