Official Heraldic Authorities
The College of Arms in London is the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants. Its records also include official copies of the records of Ulster King of Arms the originals of which remain in Dublin.
Coats of arms have been and still are granted by Letters Patent from the senior heralds, the Kings of Arms. A right to arms can only be established by the registration in the official records of the College of Arms of a pedigree showing direct male line descent from an ancestor already appearing therein as entitled to arms, or by making application through the College of Arms for a grant of arms. Grants are made to corporations as well as to individuals.
Court of the Lord Lyon in Scotland dates from the 14th century. The earliest official record is of the appointment of a Lyon by King Robert the Bruce in 1318, but the office may be older. The position incorporates the ancient Celtic office of High Sennachie who was responsible for verifying the genealogy of the King of Scotland and for crowning the King at his coronation.
The Lord Lyon is the sole King of Arms in Scotland. He is Head of the Heraldic Executive and the Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon which has jurisdiction over all heraldic business in Scotland relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies. The Lord Lyon King of Arms is also responsible for State Ceremonial in Scotland.
Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland (Dublin).
The Chief Herald is the authority on all heraldic matters relating to Irish families. His Office is also the Genealogical Office, which is the oldest Office of State.
The earliest reference to a herald of arms for Ireland is the record of the appointment of John Chandos as "Ireland King of Arms" in 1382. Chandos had a number of successors, who appear to have been regarded as members of the English College of Arms, up to the time of Edward IV. The last recorded incumbent in that series was Thomas Ashwell. The post was reconstituted in 1552 by Edward VI as "Ulster King of Arms". That post continued until 1943 when the first Chief Herald of Ireland was appointed, the title "Ulster" being joined to that of Norroy King of Arms in the College of Arms.
The Canadian Heraldic Authority established 1988.
Canada became the first nation in the Commonwealth to exercise The Queen's Royal Prerogative in heraldic matters. On June 4th Letters of Patent were presented to the Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé, by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, creating the Authority within the Government House Chancellery. In doing so, Her Majesty authorized the Governor General of Canada to exercise, in Canada, the right to grant arms to individuals and corporations; registration of recognized existing arms, flags and badges; approval of military badges, flags and other insignia of the Canadian Forces; and registration of genealogical information related to the inheritance of arms.
The South African Bureau of Heraldry, created in 1963.
According to section 3(2) of Heraldry Act (Act No 18 of 1962), the Bureau of Heraldry is to receive and examine applications for the registration or deletion of heraldic representations, names, special names or uniforms, and issue certificates of registration of the same. Additionally, it should keep the register and documents lodged in terms of the Heraldry Act. The Bureau of Heraldry is obliged to give advice, in so far as it is possible, regarding heraldic representations, names, special names and uniforms.
Cronistas Reyes de Armas de España
These heraldic offices date back to the 16th century. They have judicial powers in matters of nobiliary titles, and also serve as a registration office for pedigrees and grants of arms. Heraldry is not regulated in Spain, in the sense that there are no laws or rules on who can take what arms, and no official has ever had enforcement powers of any kind. Under the supervision of the Spanish Ministry of Justice the Cronistas will grant arms to residents of areas currently or formerly under the government of the Spanish Crown.
At present there is only one Cronista in office, and he has not been officially appointed by the King as a "Rey de Armas", his authority stemming from appointment as a Cronista by the Provincial authorities of Castille and Léon. He does not have an "official" web-site. The links below will provide some further information:
Asociacion de Posesores de Certificaciones de Genealogia, Nobleza y Armas Expedidas por el Cuerpo de Cronistas Reyes de Armas de España (owing its origins to the late Cronista Rey de Armas Vicente de Cadenas), Spanish Heralds.