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Decreto-Lei 53/91, de 7 de Agosto
Law no. 53/91 of August 7th, 1991
Heraldry of the “autarchies” and of collective entities of public administrative utility
The Assembly of the Republic [= Portuguese Parliament] decrees, in the terms of the constitutional articles no. 164, paragraph d), 168, #1, paragraph s), and 169, #3, as follows: [***]
Scope of aplication
The current law disciplins the right to use, order and process of creation of the heraldical symbols of the local autarchies and the collective entities of public administrative utility.
The heraldical symbols contemplated in this law are the coats of arms, the flags and the seals.
Right to the use of symbols
- Have the right to use heraldical symbols:
- The administrative regions;
- The municipalities;
- The communes;
- The cities;
- The towns;
- The collective entities of public administrative utility.
- The national coat of arms cannot be included in the heraldical symbols contemplated in #1.
Process of acquisition of right [to use the heraldical symbols]
- The right to the use of heraldical symbols with a given order is acquired::
- By the local autarchies, by deliberation of their competent organs, after hearing the Heraldry Comission of the Association of the Portuguese Archaeologists;
- By the collective entities of public administrative utility by their request and through a dispatch of the Minister of Planning and Territorial Administration, given after hearing the Heraldry Comission of the Association of the Portuguese Archaeologists.
- A oponibilidade a terceiros do direito referido no número anterior depende da publicação das ordenações dos símbolos heráldicos no Diário da República.
- All orders published in the Diário da República are unofficially registered in the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration.
The heraldical symbols can be changed by adding honorable pieces, mottoes and decorations to the primitive ordering, provided these are attributed by the competent authority.
The extintion of right to heraldical symbols follows automatically the extintion of its owner.
Use of the Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms can be used:
- In buildings, contruction sites and vehicles;
- In forms and printed material;
- As editorial mark.
The flags, when assuming the form of banner, are exclusively parade flags, but the flags made of filele or similar fabric can also be hoisted or used as a decorative coating.
Description of the symbols
The official description of the heraldical symbols must be synthetic, complete, unique and made according to the general rules of heraldry.
About the ordering of the heraldical symbols
Rules of ordering
The ordering of the symbols contamplated in this law must obey the following rules:
- Simplicity - excluding superfluous elements and using only the necessary ones;
- Uniqueness - not allowing that the heraldical symbols ordered by the terms of this law may be confused with other pre-existing symbols;
- Genuineness - respecting in symbology the character and specifity of its owner and particularly the emblems that have been used before;
- Stylization - employing the elements used in the form that better serves the aestethical intentions of heraldry and not in their naturalistic shape;
- Proportion - relating the dimensions of the used elements with the dimensions of the field of the shield, or the flag, according to the heraldical rules;
- Iluminura - joining fur with fur, fur with metal or fur with colour and not metal with metal and colour with colour.
Coats of Arms
The Coats of Arms contemplated in this law are, as a rule, composed of a shield topped with a crown and have a scroll below with an inscription or motto. Eventually, its ordering may include the highest decoration that has been attributed to the owner.
- The shield is always of rounded tip, built from the square, being the tip a semi-circle with a diameter that equals the width of the shield.
- In the shield's field are not allowed partitions that cause a division of its significant whole.
- The crown is mural in the arms of the local autarchies and civic in the arms of the collective entities of public administrative utility.
- The mural crown obeys to the following characteristics:
- To the administrtative regions is golden with five apparent towers, having between them escutcheons of blue, charged with five silver bezants;
- To the city of Lisbon, because it is the capital of the country, it is of gold with five apparent towers;
- To the municipalities headed by a city it is of silver with five apparent towers;
- To the municipalities headed by a town it is of silver with four apparent towers;
- To the communes headed by a town it is of silver with four apparent towers, being the first and the fourth smaller than the other two;
- To the communes headed by a simple village it is of silver with three apparent towers;
- To the towns that are not head of autarchy it is of silver with four apparent towers, all of small dimensions.
- The civic crown is formed by a plain ring, ending in two ferrules, all in silver, and topped by three apparent golden branches of oak, fruited of the same.
- The scroll where the inscription or motto is inscribed is placed below the shield and is lit in the metals or colours that are better harmonized with the whole of the arms.
- The lettering to be used is of elzevir typeface, and the inscriptions are oriented along the direction of the upper edge of the scroll.
- Exceptionally, and if that is justifiable by good historical reasons, the use of inscriptions or mottos within the shield’s field can be allowed.
The flags contamplated in this law can be ordered as banner or hoisting flag.
- The banner is shaped as a square and measures 1 meter of side.
- The banner is of embroidered silk fabric edged by a fillet in the dominating colour and metal and it's endings, that end in tassels of the same colour and metal, are used to give knots in the staff.
- The staff and the spear are of golden metal.
- The banner is mounted in the staff through a denticulated sleeve and in the horizontal rod that keeps it unfurled, by a continuous sleeve.
- The banners of the administrative regions are gyronny of 16 pieces, those of the cities gyronny of 8 pieces and those of the towns and communes qualtered of plain if the circumstances advise it, and all bear in the centre the arms of the owner.
- The banners of the collective entities of public administrative utility are monocoloured, but their ordering should also contain a border, a saltire or a cross, the latter throughout, and all have in the center the coat of arms of it's owner.
- In the coats of arms represented in the banners, the decorations are not shown, because they can be used, according to the law, in the banner itself.
Flags to hoist
- The hoisting flag is rectagular, the length equals one and the half the dimension of the hoist and must be made of filele or similar fabric.
- The order of the flag is identical to that of the banner, but when it is not monocoloured, the coat of arms of its owner can be omited.
The seals are circular, having at the center the representation of the charges of its owner shield without the indication of the smalts, and having around the name of its owner.
On the process of ordering the symbols
Elements of the process
- The ordering of the heraldical symbols is based on a process that must include, whenever possible:
- The historical report on the interested entity;
- The copy of deliberations and actions of the interested party with relation to the ordering of its symbology;
- The reproduction of the symbols or emblems used by the interested party in the present or in the past.
- The process mentioned in #1 must be addressed to the Cabinet of Autarchic Heraldry through the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration. The Cabinet of Autarchic Heraldry should publish an opinion proposing an ordering that is mandatory in what concerns heraldical matters.
- The opinion and the proposal mentioned in #2 are returned together to the interested autarchy through the same channels, so that it can reach a decision about the ordering of it's heraldical symbols or, in the case that the interested party is a collective entity of public administrative utility, the process is returned to the General Board of Autarchic Administration that will develop the necessary efforts to obtain the ministerial dispatch of approval.
- The decision of the competent autarchical organ must be communicated to the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration.
Upon establishement of the heraldical symbols by deliberation of the interested party or by ministerial dispatch, according to the cases, they must be unofficially registered in an adecuate armorial, periodically released by the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration.
Final and transient regulations
The current law does not invalidate the orderings of municipal heraldical symbols made according to the dispatch of 14 April 1930, nor those that resulted from a proved action from a competent authority previous to this date and that have not been reviewed according to the said dispatch.
All cases that have been omitted in this law on heraldical matters are solved by the use of the general rules of the heraldical science and art.
Criation of the Cabinet of Autarchic Heraldry
- Within the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration is created a Cabinet of Autarchic Heraldry, with consultative and registry powers in the area of the heraldry of autarchies and collective entities of public administrative utility.
- Until this organism is fully endorsed the consultative powers in the area of the heraldry of autarchies and collective entities of public administrative utility are assumed by the Heraldry Comission of the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists.
Coming into effect
This law comes into effect 60 days after being published.
Approved on 11 June 1991
translated by Jorge Candeias, 08 Feb 1999
Anything below this line was not added by the editor of this page.