The Secretary of the Commonwealth now offers
registration services for organizations interested in protecting
their organizational identity in Virginia. There are criminal
penalties for unauthorized use of a registered organization's name
and its registered mottoes, logos and insignias. Think of this
service as parallel to what the State Corporation Committee (SCC)
does with business and corporate entities. ( Review
the SCC's services.)
With the Secretary, you may register your
organization name only, or the organization name and mottoes or logos. See
below for much more detailed information:
The Secretary of the Commonwealth will approve your organization's registration on the basis of a completed application and payment of the required fee.
Registration is valid for the calendar year in which it was approved and may be renewed annually. Renewal applications and fees must be submitted no later than December 31 for the next calendar year. If you do not renew by this deadline, your registration will expire. If you allow your organization's name registration to expire, by default all other associated registrations expire also.
The Secretary of the Commonwealth may cancel or refuse to renew a registration if there is any misrepresentation on any application. Renewal may also be refused if the organization fails to accept or respond to certified mail sent by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to the address provided on the application, a renewal application or written notice of a change of address provided to the Office by the organization.
Fees and Renewals
The fee for applying to register a name, motto, logo or insignia is $7.50 per item. This fee must be submitted with the application and is not refundable for any reason, including failure to file a completed application, withdrawal of the application or denial of registration.
The fee for renewing any registration is also $7.50 per item. The renewal fee must be paid by December 31 each year for the subsequent calendar year. If you fail to pay all renewal fees when due, your registrations will all expire.
If you send in an incorrect total amount for renewal of all your registrations, you will have thirty (30) days from notification of that fact in order to submit the proper amount -- or all registrations will be cancelled.
While the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth will send renewal
notices by first-class mail to each registered organization, it is
your responsibility to maintain a current address with the SOC Office.
Even if you do not receive a renewal notice, you are still solely responsible
for paying renewal fees in a timely manner.
Registering an Organization Name
An organization may register its name with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Registration provides you with certain legal protections whenever others use
your organization name in Virginia. Registration also prevents other organizations
from registering names that are identical or confusingly similar to names already
in the registry.
Name registration is also the prerequisite for registering any other aspect of your organizational identity, such as a motto or logo.
A registered organization may also register its motto(s), which bestows the same legal protections that accompany name registration. As with a registered name, for a motto to be registered it must not be prohibited by law or be confusingly similar to a motto that is already in the registry.
Motto registration applications must be approved and signed by the chief official of your organization. You are allowed to register an unlimited number of mottoes. Annual motto renewal must be in concert with name registration renewal.
You may discontinue your motto registration via written request from the chief official of the organization to the Secretary of the Commonwealth -- or simply by failing to pay the renewal fee by December 31.
A registered organization may also protect its logos and insignias – including badges, buttons, decorations, charms, emblems, rosettes and other graphic representations. The design of these items must not contain anything prohibited by law or be confusingly similar to any other registered item.
The chief official of your registered organization must approve and sign a completed application. This application must include a detailed written description of the design of the graphic and five (5) identical samples, photographs, detailed drawings or other renderings on white paper no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches. Approval will not be granted if the written description does not comport with the renderings submitted or if the renderings are not deemed to be sufficiently detailed or clear.
You may register an unlimited number of logos and insignias and may renew them annually when you renew your name registration.