Displaying the U.S. flag when overseas

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by jonholland, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. jonholland

    jonholland New Member

    I have a question regarding flying the U.S. flag when overseas, in another country. I know that the rule here in the United States is that the U.S. flag should always been flown in a position of superiority (when flown next to another nation's flag) in other words, to the veiwer's left / flag's own right. However, what happens when abroad? Surely, it should be the host nation's flag that is flown to the viewer's left / flag's own right, as it is in their country? Many country's have the same flag protocol as we do ie) their own flag should be flown in a position of honor, and any other nation's flag on the other side. I know this is the case up in Canada, and also over in Great Britain too. I would think that to do otherwise could be seen as disrespectful to the host nation, and indeed be in breach of their own laws / rules. What is the official answer on this? I only ask because I actually travel and work overseas frequently (I'm a contractor) and like to fly the U.S. flag wherever I am temporarily living at the time, along with the local nation's flag. I have always rather liked the look of 2 crossed flags above my front door or garage.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, Jon -- welcome to the forum!

    In a nutshell, your approach is exactly right. The host nation's flag should have precedence (the flag's right/viewer's left), just as our flag does in the USA. As you pointed out, some nations have formal flag usage rules, and they generally follow this principle.

    The rule that one nation's flag should never be flown above another's is pretty much universal usage. However, as I've mentioned in other posts, there is a partial exception that involves half-staffing the US flag. Military regs state that it is proper to fly a half-staffed US flag alongside a full-staffed foreign national flag. (The alternative would be awkward, because it's up to each nation to determine when its flag should be half-staffed.) This exception only addresses flags flown side-by-side on separate poles -- it is never proper to fly one national flag above another on the same pole.

    Best regards,

    Peter Ansoff
  3. texan_mirage

    texan_mirage New Member

    Hello Everyone,

    I am currently in India and wish to fly the "US Flag" and the "Lone Star Flag" at my residence in India. Will I have to display a indian flag as well and if yes, then how should i position the three flags?
    Please advice asap.
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello Tex, and welcome to the USA flag forum. India has a very precise flag code, summarized here on Wikipedia: Flag of India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I didn't see any provision for flying foreign country flags without the Indian national flag.

    In summary, I think you would be OK if you put the flag of India in the position of honor (to the left, as you are looking at the flag display) and the US to the right. The flag of Texas could fly below the US flag on the same pole, or if you have three poles, the TX flag would be furthest to the right.

    You might pay your neighbors the courtesy of asking them if they have any objections to flying your flags...

    Columbia Maryland
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    It's interesting that para 2.2(viii) of the Indian flag code

    "no other flag or bunting should be placed higher than or above or side by side with the national flag . . . "

    mirrors the ambiguity in Section 7c of the US flag code:

    "No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States . . ."

    In both cases, the implication is that other national flags cannot be displayed at the same level as the host national flag, which contradicts other provisions of the respective flag codes and common international usage. The language of the US code is part of what was added by Congress in the 1950s to forbid display of the UN flag "in place of" the US flag (whatever that meant). I suspect that the matching provision in the Indian code was copied from the US code; the overall language of the two codes is very similar.
  6. Scott

    Scott New Member

    Good day,
    I am in the US Navy and stationed at the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan. We fly the National Ensign and the Japanese flag from a single masthead on 2 separate lines/yard arms. Part of the confusion with flying our flag is the point of reference. As you are looking out from the building, we have always flown the National Ensign on the left and the Japanese flag on the right. DSC_2557.jpg The position of our flags has recently come into question and I'm looking for the final authority on how we should be flying the flags.

    I believe we have the National Ensign displayed correctly, but I just want to be sure. Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.
  7. APS221

    APS221 Member

    I don't think that would be correct. Chapter 8 of the Naval Telecommunications and Procedures - Flags Pennants and Customs Manual [NTP 13 (B)] seems pretty clear.

    (1) No other flag or pennant will be displayed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the U.S. national ensign. "On the right" is when facing the flag with one's back to the building entrance.

    (2) When displayed with foreign national ensigns, the U.S. national ensign shall be displayed to the extreme right and on the same level. International usage forbids display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. The national ensign of other nations shall be displayed right to left after the U.S. national ensign, beginning in alphabetical order of the names of such nations in the english language except that:
    (a) When the U.S. Naval activity is located in a foreign country, the national ensign of that country is displayed to the immediate left of the U.S. national ensign without regard to it's alphabetical listing.
  8. APS221

    APS221 Member

    However, this illustration from the manual would seem to indicate the opposite.
    If the Washington Monument is the building, then these flags are flying opposite to established custom.
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I don't believe that is a fair assumption. While the flag display appears to be on the grounds of the Washington Monument, I would not necessarily say they are being displayed "in front of the monument." The monument is surrounded by 50 USA flags, so any other display in the area would not be "tied" to the monument, so to speak. I believe the illustration was intended to show national flags flying at the same height.

    (Ignoring the fact that there is no such display in the vicinity of the Washington Monument, determining the location of the "observer" is not a simple matter, as there are no other buildings in the area except for a small stonework visitor's center, and it does not have flagpoles nearby.)
  10. Scott

    Scott New Member

    From the USMC Flag Manual. Being on a USMC base, this is why we have it the way we do.

    When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown fromseparate staffs of the same height. When the President directs that the flag be flown at half-staff at military facilities and naval vessels and stations abroad, it will be so flown whether or not the flag of another nation is flown full-staff alongside the flag of the United States of America. The national flag, if required, will be displayed, on the right (the flag's own right) of all others. The national flags of other nations shall be displayed, right to left, in the alphabetical order of the names of the nations in the English language. The flags should be of approximately equal size. Situations periodically occur wherein the national flag is shown a host country and must therefore be flown in accordance with agreements made with the host country. In such situations the national flag could be flown or displayed in a subordinate position to the host country flag. Where an agreement does not specifically designate the flag to be flown in the
    position of honor, common sense dictates handling of the situation in a way that will preserve and enhance the prestige of the host country and its flag.

    It'd be much easier if we were all the same!

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