Frequently asked Questions

We have listed here some common questions that may not be addressed on other sections of the website. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email the Lyon Office at

What is my clan Coat of Arms?

A clan cannot have a coat of arms. The Chief of a clan has his or her personal coat of arms but that belongs to the chief and cannot be used by anyone else. What a member of a clan may use is a badge consisting of the chief’s ‘crest’ (see next question), within a belt and buckle design. The belt shows the chief’s motto on it.

Is a crest the same thing as a Coat of Arms?

The word ‘crest’ is often used as a general description of a coat of arms but this is not correct. A crest is one part of a heraldic design. It is the symbol which appears on top of the helmet which itself is on top of the shield. The shield contains the main part of the Arms.

Who can have a Coat of Arms?

Anyone resident in Scotland or who owns a house or land in Scotland may apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for a Scottish coat of arms. If you are not resident in Scotland and do not own any property there, you may be able to apply for Arms to be granted in the name of an ancestor who lived in Scotland if you can prove descent from that ancestor. If you are uncertain of your position, you should write setting out your circumstances to: The Lyon Clerk, Court of the Lord Lyon, HM New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT.

How do I apply for a Coat of Arms?

Application is made in the form of a Petition to the Lord Lyon. A copy of a leaflet containing various sample forms of Petition for different circumstances is available HERE.

Can everyone who is descended from someone who had a Coat of Arms use it?

No. A coat of arms belongs only to one person at a time. It passes from the owner to his eldest son and then to his eldest son and so on. Other members of the family may, depending on their relationship and their surname, be able to apply for a ‘differenced’ version of the Arms to be granted to them by the Lord Lyon. If you think that you are in this position you should write, giving details of the circumstances, to the Lyon Clerk, address above.

I have located my Coat of Arms on the Internet. Can I use it?

There are many websites which supply information about coats of Arms which are said to apply to particular names. Unfortunately most of this information is completely inauthentic. In many cases what is supplied is the design of the Arms belonging to the chief of a clan. Only the individual chief himself can use these Arms and it is completely incorrect for anyone else to do so.

I have bought my Coat of Arms from a heraldic shop. Is it correct?

No. See the last question. What you have bought is simply a souvenir and has no authenticity. It is akin to having your photograph taken in front of a castle and giving the impression that the castle belongs to you.

Does the Lyon Office undertake Genealogical Research?

No. A person who wishes to consult a professional genealogist should contact The Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives at or the Scottish Genealogy Society or other professional genealogist.

I have commissioned an artist to paint the Coat of Arms I would like - will Lyon grant them?

While Lyon tries whenever possible to carry out the wishes of the petitioner, he is not obliged to do so and may for good reason not allow exactly what your painter has devised. For this reason, it is safer to await your grant before commissioning paintings of your arms. The fees payable on the Grant include the cost of designing the arms.
The Court of the Lord Lyon
Scotland’s Heraldic Authority