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How Does the Hague System Work?

WIPO's Hague System allows you to secure design protection simultaneously in multiple countries or regions through one international application, in one language with one set of fees.

There is no pre-requirement to file a national or regional design application in order to use the Hague System.

You can file an international application under the Hague System if you:

  • are a national of,
  • have a domicile or habitual residence in, or
  • have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in…

...any Hague System member (referred to as “contracting party”), including any country of the European Union (EU) or the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI). Full list of Hague System contracting parties.


(click to enlarge)

You can secure protection within any contracting party, including member states of an intergovernmental organization party to the Hague Agreement. If you wish to protect a design in a jurisdiction that is not party to the Hague Agreement, you will have to file a national (or regional) application.

Digital Information Kit

Get quick, concise and interactive information on applying for international design protection.

The process

The first step to obtaining international design protection is to file an international application with WIPO. Once submitted, your application will be checked for compliance with form and content (formal requirements), including payment of the required fees. Note: non-payment will result in an irregularity notice.

Once your application complies with all formal requirements, we will record it in the International Register. We will then publish your international registration in the International Designs Bulletin, the official publication of the Hague System, at which point the intellectual property (IP) offices of the designated contracting parties may perform substantive examination of your designs.

Tip! Check what your competitors are doing by searching existing designs – virtual and print – before you file an international design application.

Tools to get you started

Key steps (WIPO)




Formality examination



Possible action (designated contracting parties)


Substantive examination

  • Canada
  • China
  • Hungary
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Mexico
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Turkmenistan
  • United States of America
  • Viet Nam

(Legal reference: Article 1 (xvii) of the Geneva Act (1999))

WIPO offers a broad range of online resources that you can consult. You may raise specific enquiries through Contact Hague. WIPO does not provide legal assistance.

Download full schema of the Hague System procedure

Duration of protection

The initial period of protection under the Hague System is five years. You can then renew your design twice, which guarantees you at least 15 years of protection.

Individual contracting party legislation may allow for a longer duration of protection.

Maximum duration of protection

Find out how long you can protect your designs for in each Hague System contracting party.

Making changes to your international registration

It is important to keep your international registrations up-to-date. You may need to make various changes such as changing ownership or representatives.

You can centrally manage and renew your registrations directly through WIPO.

Learning resources

Video: designs and protection

Watch this brief introduction to designs and their international protection through the WIPO Hague System.

Digital Information Kit

Explore our digital Information Kit to get quick, concise and interactive information on applying for design protection internationally. [Download print version]

Hague System webinars

Our free interactive Hague System webinars offer practical information on a wide range of topics related to filing international applications and managing international registrations.

Distance learning

The WIPO Academy online preparatory course on trademarks, designs and geographical indications (DL-302) is designed to precede practical training on IP protection.

Need help?

Our Hague Customer Service team is available to answer all your questions and queries and to assist you throughout the lifecycle of your international design applications and registrations. To ensure optimal handling of enquiries use Contact Hague.

Contact Hague | Phone +41 22 338 7575 (Monday to Friday, 09:00–18:00 (CET))