Coats of arms, insignia and symbols

The primary symbol for use with the government identity system is the Royal Coat of Arms.

In specific cases the Royal Coat of Arms will not be appropriate, for example:

  • for departments that have been issued with coats of arms, badges or insignia by the College of Arms
  • for identities primarily used in Scotland which adopt the Royal Coat of Arms Scotland
  • for identities used overseas where the Royal Coat of Arms is not recognised by the desired audience
  • for identities where use of the Royal Coat of Arms is too restrictive, or to avoid duplication of the Royal Coat of Arms on a single piece of communication

The primary symbol may only be replaced by a department’s coat of arms, badge, insignia or symbol by agreement with Cabinet Office.

Primary symbol

Departmental insignia

Using the Royal Coat of Arms

The government identity system places the Royal Coat of Arms at the heart of government logos.

The Queen is Head of State, and the United Kingdom is governed by Her Majesty’s Government in the name of the Queen. The Royal Coat of Arms is personal to the Queen and because of the constitutional relationship between the Sovereign and government, central government departments and their executive agencies and ALBs are permitted to use the approved versions of the Royal Coat of Arms.

They must, however, adhere to the principles specified by the College of Arms:

  • Government departments, and their clearly associated executive agencies and ALBs, have a general discretion to use the Royal Coat of Arms for official purposes as illustrated in these guidelines. This discretion may not be extended to associated bodies (e.g. advisory groups or government department clubs and associations, nor other clubs and associations of civil servants) which, although having a role in the processes of national government, are not government departments or part of them, and which accordingly operate to a greater or lesser extent independently from ministers.
  • In some circumstances, if necessary and by agreement with Cabinet Office, it may be possible to use the Royal Crown as a simpler alternative device to the government version of the Royal Coat of Arms.
  • The Royal Coat of Arms should not be used in isolation. It should always be used in conjunction with the department or organisation name.
  • HM Government identities using the Royal Coat of Arms must adhere to the superior rule. The superior rule ensures that logos using the Royal Coat of Arms have prominence and authority. To achieve this, logos must be placed at the top of any communications, adhering to the exclusion zone illustrated on the Logo artwork and when to use it page. In certain cases it may not be possible to adhere to the superior rule, for example online or when co-branding, in which case the logo must have equal prominence to that of its partners.
  • The Royal Coat of Arms should be reproduced in black or white only, for consistency. In specific instances it is possible to reproduce the Royal Coat of Arms in a single colour; however, it should never be a metallic colour (e.g. silver or gold) as such colours have a Royal association.
  • The Royal Coat of Arms should not be used as a watermark or overprinted.
  • The official versions of the Royal Coat of Arms are not to be altered, distorted or modified in any way.
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the Royal Coat of Arms within a logo is given due respect.