The Bureau of Heraldry


1.1. The mission of the Bureau of Heraldry is to provide a national service for the design and registration of coats of arms, flags, pennants, decorations, medals, seals, insignia of rank and other emblems, uniforms and names and special names, and provide a professional heraldic service to the Government and the public on an national and international level, the institution of National Orders and the popularisation of our National Symbols namely the National Flag, the National Coat of Arms and the National Anthem.


2.1.1. The functions of the Bureau of Heraldry, as defined in section 3(2) of the Heraldry Act, 1962 (Act No. 18 of 1962), are to:

i. receive and examine applications for the registration of, and objections against the registration or deletion of, heraldic representations, names, special names or uniforms;
ii. keep the register and documents lodged in terms of the Act;
iii. issue certificates of registration of heraldic representations, names, special names and uniform;
iv. give advice, in so far as it is possible, regarding heraldic representations, names, special names and uniforms, and render assistance with the design of heraldic representations and uniforms;
v. carry out such other duties as may be assigned to it by the Minister, the Heraldry Council or the Heraldry Committee in terms of the Act.


3.1.1. To Popularise National Symbols
3.1.2. To Africanise heraldic symbolism through research
3.1.3. To protect National Symbols as State intellectual property
3.1.4. To develop a market for heraldry
3.1.5. To add value to the registration of heraldic representations


4.1. Organisation

4.1.1. The Bureau of Heraldry is a sub-programme of the National Archives of South Africa. The State Herald (Director Level), reports to the Chief Director of the National Archives.

4.2. Human Resources

4.2.1. The Bureau has seven posts: two professional, four technicians and one clerk. The current compliment of staff renders the Bureau under-resourced and vulnerable, especially when considering the objectives set up for the next five years. The structure of the Bureau needs one additional Deputy Director, two additional Assistant Directors, two additional artists and at least three administration clerks.


5.1. Registration

5.1.1. The Bureau is experiencing a surge in international applicants. This is due to the positive reputation the Bureau has developed internationally. The current local demands are also growing, judging by enquiries that the Bureau receives on daily basis. The potential to increase the local market is high. With capacity and a well-researched strategy the Bureau will be able to increase its production considerably.


6.1. The National Orders
6.1.1. In 1998 the President’s Advisory Council embarked on a review of the National Orders. The Technical Committee of the Advisory Council undertook research on indigenous award systems as well as soliciting new designs from jewellery designers.

6.1.2. The process came to fruition on 13 March 2002 when the Cabinet approved new designs of the national Orders. The approved Orders are more representative of the population and draw on indigenous symbols.

6.1.3. Currently there is another set of three decorations in the planning phase and the Bureau of Heraldry is a major player in this process.

6.2. Popularisation of National Symbols

6.2.1. The theme for the Heritage Day for the next two years is – Celebrating Our National Symbols. This has seen the Bureau of Heraldry working closely with Heritage in planning and preparation for the Day. The culmination of the celebration of National Symbols will be the forthcoming 10th Anniversary of our New Democracy in 2004.
6.2.2. The popularisation of National Symbols moves beyond the Heritage Day. Popularisation strategies and tactics involve the use of mass media, permanent and temporary exhibition of Symbols in strategic museums. Initial discussions with the eagerly awaited Freedom Park museum have taken place. The Constitutional Hill Museum will also be considered.
6.2.3. Another strategy is to market our National Symbols outside our borders. Success in this regard is in progress. The new Provincial Coats of Arms will form a major part of the London based South Africa House refurbishment.


7.1.1. The Bureau of Heraldry is one of a very limited amount of Government Institutions which generates revenue for the State. Currently the fees for the design and registration of heraldic representations are far below our international competitors and this is the reason for the massive volume of international applications the Bureau processes annually.