Canadian citizens or corporate bodies seeking to be granted armorial bearings by lawful authority must send a letter addressed to the Chief Herald of Canada, stating the wish "to receive armorial bearings from the Canadian Crown under the powers exercised by the Governor General."
Individuals should forward:
- a completed information form (no. I-2006-1);
- proof of Canadian citizenship;
- a current biographical sketch that includes educational and employment background, as well as details of voluntary and community service; and
- the names of two persons who may be contacted as confidential references.
Corporate bodies should forward:
- a brief history and a copy of the document establishing their legal existence in Canada;
- a current annual report or financial statement;
- a copy of the resolution from their governing body requesting the grant.
A grant of armorial bearings, as an honour, recognizes the contributions made to the community by the petitioner. The background information is therefore an important tool for the Chief Herald of Canada to assess the eligibility of the request.
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. An invoice for the processing fee is then sent to the petitioner.
Each petition is assigned to one of the heralds of the Authority. There are three main stages in the grant process: the creation of a written description, the preparation of a preliminary design, and the production of the official letters patent.
Once the processing fee has been paid, the herald, a specialist in the field of emblematic design, begins work with the petitioner to determine the elements of a possible design, which must follow the rules of heraldry. 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 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. 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 petitioner decides whether the letters patent will be a one- or two-sheet option. 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.
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."
All costs must be paid before the Letters Patent can be sent to the petitioner.
The government of Canada requires that the petitioner cover all direct costs related to the grant of armorial bearings.
These costs are in three parts:
- The processing fee for all petitioners, 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 payments forwarded before the invoice is sent will be returned to the petitioner.
- Variable costs of research and/or specialized translation, to cover, for instance, the translation of mottoes into Latin or other foreign languages. in cases requiring additional research, the petitioner will receive an estimate and will pay a supplementary fee to the researcher.
- Artwork costs, paid by the petitioner directly to the artist assigned by the Authority. 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 thirty days of receipt.
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 revision of the preliminary design or the creation of new artwork.
The cost of the letters patent depends on the format of the document chosen by the petitioner, the complexity of the design, the number of components in the grant, and the inclusion of additional decoration.
Letters patent are available in one- and two-sheet formats
- approximately 56 cm (22") high and 76 cm (30") wide;
- hand painted heading;
- granting text inscribed in calligraphy;
- hand painted coat of arms, flag and badge with 24k gold where applicable;
- cost for art and calligraphy is approximately $2,225 to $3,500.
- each sheet is 56 cm (22") high and 38 cm (15") wide;
- heading is 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;
- cost for art and calligraphy is approximately $875 to $2,000.
In summary, the minimum cost of a grant of a coat of arms (shield, crest, helmet, mantling, and motto) is approximately $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.
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.
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 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.
Guide (pdf — 1.2 Mb)
Application Form (pdf — 48 Kb)