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Portuguese subnational flag and arms law

Lei 53/91, de 7 de Agosto

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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: [***]


CHAPTER I
Generic principles

1st Article
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.

2nd Article
Heraldical symbols

The heraldical symbols contemplated in this law are the coats of arms, the flags and the seals.

3rd Article
Right to the use of symbols

  1. Have the right to use heraldical symbols:
    1. The administrative regions;
    2. The municipalities;
    3. The communes;
    4. The cities;
    5. The towns;
    6. The collective entities of public administrative utility.
  2. The national coat of arms cannot be included in the heraldical symbols contemplated in #1.

4th Article
Process of acquisition of right [to use the heraldical symbols]

  1. The right to the use of heraldical symbols with a given order is acquired::
    1. By the local autarchies, by deliberation of their competent organs, after hearing the Heraldry Comission of the Association of the Portuguese Archaeologists;
    2. 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.
  2. A oponibilidade a terceiros do direito referido no número anterior depende da publicação das ordenações dos símbolos heráldicos no Diário da República.
  3. All orders published in the Diário da República are unofficially registered in the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration.

5th Article
Change

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.

6th Article
Extintion

The extintion of right to heraldical symbols follows automatically the extintion of its owner.

7th Article
Use of the Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms can be used:

  1. In buildings, contruction sites and vehicles;
  2. In forms and printed material;
  3. As editorial mark.

8th Article
Flags

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.

9th Article
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.


CHAPTER II
About the ordering of the heraldical symbols

SECTION I
Generic rules

10th Article
Rules of ordering

The ordering of the symbols contamplated in this law must obey the following rules:

  1. Simplicity - excluding superfluous elements and using only the necessary ones;
  2. Uniqueness - not allowing that the heraldical symbols ordered by the terms of this law may be confused with other pre-existing symbols;
  3. Genuineness - respecting in symbology the character and specifity of its owner and particularly the emblems that have been used before;
  4. Stylization - employing the elements used in the form that better serves the aestethical intentions of heraldry and not in their naturalistic shape;
  5. 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;
  6. Iluminura - joining fur with fur, fur with metal or fur with colour and not metal with metal and colour with colour.

11th Article
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.

12th Article
Shield

  1. 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.
  2. In the shield’s field are not allowed partitions that cause a division of its significant whole.

13th Article
Crown

  1. The crown is mural in the arms of the local autarchies and civic in the arms of the collective entities of public administrative utility.
  2. The mural crown obeys to the following characteristics:
    1. To the administrtative regions is golden with five apparent towers, having between them escutcheons of blue, charged with five silver bezants;
    2. To the city of Lisbon, because it is the capital of the country, it is of gold with five apparent towers;
    3. To the municipalities headed by a city it is of silver with five apparent towers;
    4. To the municipalities headed by a town it is of silver with four apparent towers;
    5. 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;
    6. To the communes headed by a simple village it is of silver with three apparent towers;
    7. To the towns that are not head of autarchy it is of silver with four apparent towers, all of small dimensions.
  3. 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.

14th Article
Scroll

  1. 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.
  2. The lettering to be used is of elzevir typeface, and the inscriptions are oriented along the direction of the upper edge of the scroll.
  3. Exceptionally, and if that is justifiable by good historical reasons, the use of inscriptions or mottos within the shield’s field can be allowed.

15th Article
Flags

The flags contamplated in this law can be ordered as banner or hoisting flag.

16th Article
Banners

  1. The banner is shaped as a square and measures 1 meter of side.
  2. 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.
  3. The staff and the spear are of golden metal.
  4. The banner is mounted in the staff through a denticulated sleeve and in the horizontal rod that keeps it unfurled, by a continuous sleeve.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

17th Article
Flags to hoist

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

18th Article
Seals

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.

SECTION II
On the process of ordering the symbols

19th Article
Elements of the process

  1. The ordering of the heraldical symbols is based on a process that must include, whenever possible:
    1. The historical report on the interested entity;
    2. The copy of deliberations and actions of the interested party with relation to the ordering of its symbology;
    3. The reproduction of the symbols or emblems used by the interested party in the present or in the past.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The decision of the competent autarchical organ must be communicated to the Ministery of Planning and Territorial Administration.

20th Article
Registration

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.


CHAPTER III
Final and transient regulations

21th Article
Previous legislation

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.

22th Article
Omitted cases

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.

23th Article
Criation of the Cabinet of Autarchic Heraldry

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

24th Article
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


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