The International Association of Amateur Heralds

  • The Royal
                Arms of the United Kingdom
  • "Patio del
                Crucero Real Alcázar Sevilla"


The Articles of the Association provide for three grades of membership: Member, Associate Fellow and Fellow.The Board of the Association may determine from time-to-time the criteria for admission to any grade and for re-grading.


The usual grade of entry will be Member. This grade is for those persons who have a general interest in heraldry, and who wish to become involved in wide-ranging heraldry discussions, but who will not immediately be involved in formal design work or other activity on behalf of the Association.
Members can take part in all general matters and can vote on any issues brought forward, including annual elections for Board Directors.Members cannot stand for Board positions nor can they nominate a person for election to the Board.

As well as doing all that a Member is entitled to do, an Associate Fellow can nominate a Fellow for election as a Director, but cannot stand for election.

Members may be re-graded as Associate Fellows upon providing satisfactory evidence to the Board, through the Vice-President, Heraldic Education (VP-HE), that they have sufficient heraldic knowledge. This may be through passing the Association's Basic Heraldic Knowledge (BHK) examination, or any other approved exams, or by evidence of heraldic background and knowledge, or such other evidence as the Vice President accepts. When he or she is satisfied, the Vice President will recommend to the Board re-grading to Associate Fellow.

The Board may decide that an individual may enter the Association as an Associate Fellow if the necessary evidence is provided on first application.

See below as regards participation in design work.


Fellows may do all that Associate Fellows can do. A Fellow may also stand for election to the Board, provided he is properly nominated and confirms to the Secretary that the nomination is accepted.

Associate Fellows may be re-graded as Fellows at the discretion of the Board. A candidate for regrading will be expected to have demonstrated some commitment to the Association and the advancement of its objects. This might be through participation in design work through the Design Teams (see below) or by some other way. Nomination for regrading may be made by a Mentor or any member of the Board.

If the re-grading is on the basis of work done in a Design Team, then the Vice-President, Heraldic Design (VP-HD) must first be satisfied that the Associate Fellow has sufficient knowledge to work independently as an IAAH Herald or IAAH Herald Artist.

Design Work.  Design requests from the general public are administered by the Vice President, Heraldic Designs, who allocates the design work to a Design Team. Each Design Team is led by a Fellow (known as a Herald in this context) who is a member of the IAAH Design Panel. This ensures that the highest quality of heraldic advice and artistry is offered in the Association's free service to members of the public. The lead Herald chooses an Heraldic Artist from the Design Panel to work with him on a project, and may also invite one or more Associate Fellows who are training as Heralds or Artists to assist. The Member grade is not involved in design work.


The Basic Heraldic Knowledge (BHK) exam is an ‘open-book’ exam conducted on an ‘honour’ basis over the internet.  The basic text for the exam is “Boutell’s Heraldry” as edited and revised by the late J. P. Brooke-Little (1983 edition).  We recommend that an aspiring examinee obtains a copy of this book for his or her personal library as it is one of - if not the main - accepted basic English language texts on the subject of Heraldry.  Failing a personal copy, the prospective examinee should try to borrow or otherwise obtain a copy
in order to sit the examination.  The book should be read more than once in order to get a good understanding of its contents and how to use the index.

Having read the book a couple of times, and hopefully digested its contents, the prospective examinee should then contact the VP-Heraldic Education (VP-HE) in order to nominate for the exam.  The VP-HE will then arrange a mutually acceptable timetable for the taking of the exam and forwarding the completed paper to the VP-HE who will arrange to have it marked and graded.

The pass mark is a generous 75%.  Those falling a couple of % either side of the pass mark will undergo some remedial mentoring from the VP-HE and on the successful conclusion of that mentoring, will be afforded a Pass grade.  There are only the two grades for this exam - PASS and FAIL.  A person obtaining a Fail must wait another three calendar months before applying to retake the exam (a different paper).

On passing the exam, the VP-HE will take the necessary action to have the examinee upgraded to the status of an Associate Fellow of the IAAH and his/her name will be entered on the IAAH’s BHK Exam Roll of Honour. 

The syllabus for the BHK Exam can be perused here.