In January 1798 Vaud proclaimed itself an independent republic, similar to the new French republic. Later that year the new republic joined the Helvetian Republic. The Helvetian Republic did not use arms. In 1803 the use of arms was again permitted and the new Canton Vaud decided to devise new arms. The new arms were adopted on April 17, 1803, and are nearly identical to the present arms. The official description mentions the green colour on top and the white below. The original drawing, however, shows the green below and the white on top. The colour of the letters was not described, but the motto was shown in black. Later in the 19th century the gold lettering became more common.
In 1806 the arms were augmented with liberation symbols, cannons and other military equipment. These augmentations lasted for about 10 years and are no longer used.