There are no international regulations governing flag etiquette but the rules
adopted by many countries have so much in common that it is possible for
formulate general guidelines. They are slightly different for a flag
displayed inside a country and for one at an international forum. The
general rule in both cases is that all flags hoisted as a group should be the
same width and should be hoisted on separate flagpoles, or separate halyards in
the case of a flagpole with a yardarm. The practice of hoisting two or
more flags on the same halyard is not correct. For most countries the
following rules are observed for hoisting flags inside the country :
- The flag should be displayed in the open from sunrise to sunset, but it
should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement. It may be
displayed at night providing it is well illuminated.
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- The flag should always be used in a dignified manner. It should
never touch the ground, the floor or water. It should never be carried
flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. It should never be used
as a table or seat cover, or as drapery of any sort. It should never be
used a a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
- The national flag should not ne displayed in a position inferior to any
other flag. The national flag takes precedent over all other flags.
When flown with other flags of other sovereign nations, all flags should be
flown on separate flagpoles at the same time. The flags should be the
same size, width and should be flown at the same height. The other
national flags should be displayed in alphabetical order depending on the
official language of the country.
- When there are two flags displayed, the national flag should be to the
left of the observer, facing the staff. The same rule should be observed
when the national flag is crossed with other flag; its staff should be in
front of the staff of another flag.
- In a line of three flags, the national flag should be positioned in the
- In a line of four flags, the national flag should be the first to appear
on the observers left.
- In a line of five or more flags, two national flags should be used, one at
each end of the line
- In a semi-circle, the national flag should be in the centre
- In an enclosed circle, the national flag should be positioned and centred
immediately opposite the main entrance to a building or arena.
- The order of flags hoisted together depends on the place of each
particular flag in the following hierarchy : (a) national flag, (b) regional
or provincial flag, (c) county, parish or commune flag, (d) civic flag, (e)
service flag (e.g. police or fire brigade), (f) other flag (university,
school, commercial firm, sports club etc)
- When the national flag is carried in a procession it should always be
aloft and free. In a single line the national flag must always be lead.
If carried in single line abreast with one other flag, it should be on the
right-hand end of the line facing the direction of movement; if carried with
two or more other flags it should either be in the centre, or two national
flags should be displayed, one at each end of the line.
- When a flag is displayed over the middle of a street, it should be
suspended vertically, with its top edge to the North in an east-west street or
to the East in a north-south street.
- When a flag is displayed vertically on a flagpole with crossbar, the upper
edge of the flag is to be on the observers left.
- When a flag is displayed vertically on a flagpole with a swivel crossbar,
the upper edge of the flag should face the flagpole.
- When a flag is displayed from a staff on a speakers platform, it should be
on the speakers right as he faces the audience.
- When used to cover a coffin, a flag should be placed so the hoist is at
the head and the top edge is over the left shoulder.
- As a sign of mourning the flags on flagpoles are half-masted. A
black ribbon is attached to flags hoisted on short outrigger staffs, and a
black cravat to military parade flags.
- When a flag is no longer is a suitable condition to be used it should be
destroyed in a dignified way by burning it privately