Flags Displayed on Foreign Soil

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by Briyin, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. Briyin

    Briyin New Member

    Hello, am living in New Zealand. What is the etiquette for the display of the American flag when there are two flagpoles next to each other and the New Zealand flag is flown next to it? Is the American flag to be level and on the left or is the national flag always flown on the left (as seen by the viewer facing the flags from, say, the street in front of the building)?

    Did that make sense? Two country flags...two flagpoles...what's correct?

    Thanks very much
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, Briyin -- welcome to the forum!

    The rule of thumb is that the position of honor is on the flag's own right, which is the left of an observer facing the flag. I don't know for sure whether New Zealand has its own specific rules for flag display, but the usual custom is to put "host" flag (NZ, in this case) in the position of honor, and the other national flag to its right (again, as seen by an observer facing the flags). If the US and NZ flags were displayed in the USA, the order would be reversed.


    Peter Ansoff
  3. Briyin

    Briyin New Member

    Also, the flags are being displayed at someone's residence, so I don't know if the person is a Kiwi or an American. I'm guessing that if it's an American, then the American flag should be flown on the left...it's it a Kiwi, then theirs should be on the left (both at the same height).

    Can anyone point me to a site where this is explained so that I can potentially print it and politely offer it to them?
  4. Briyin

    Briyin New Member

    Thanks very kindly. I guess it would make sense that even the person is American, that there'd not be any situation where they'd fly the flag on the left (to the observer) since it'd likely be construed as disrespectful to the host nation's flag.

    We Yanks are already viewed by some as being imperialistic...that just might stoke those flames to fly it in their position of honor! :)

  5. SSG Samora

    SSG Samora New Member

    I am currently in Baghdad and have come accross a similiar situation. The internet is not great here so it makes research slow. Could someone point me in the right direction on where in the Us flag code it states when displaying the flag in a foreign country how they should be positioned. Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks.
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, SSG Samora !

    Thank You for your continuing service to our country !!!

    QUOTE : SSG Samora "I am currently in Baghdad and have come accross a similiar situation. The internet is not great here so it makes research slow. Could someone point me in the right direction on where in the Us flag code it states when displaying the flag in a foreign country how they should be positioned. Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks."

    Right up front I'm going to tell you that I don't know for sure. So you can choose to keep reading this, or stop and wait for a reply from Mr. Peter Ansoff (Our resident Flag expert).

    The U.S. Flag code is pretty much all about the treatment of the U.S. Flag on U.S. soil. IF the U.S. Flag in question is "flown" within the confines of the U.S. Embassy there in Baghdad, that's considered "U.S. soil" and the Flag Code and embassy regulations would prevail.

    If the U.S. Flag in question is to be flown on a U.S. Military base, I am not sure what would take precedence, the U.S. Flag Code, the Military's rules & Regs, or "LOCAL" custom & etiquette. I would suggest asking the base's staff (I'm not sure what their rank or title would be) such as the "liaison" officer. In any case, I'm thinking (OK, "guessing") that the U.S. Flag Code and whatever branch of the military runs the base will prevail!

    If the Flag in question is going to be flown "off-base" and on local civilian soil, then you'll probably want to follow that country's (Iraq's) Flag etiquette (laws or rules & regs). Speaking as a Vietnam Veteran, if your planning on flying an American Flag out in the open somewhere in Baghdad, you might want to take this opportunity to re-consider the wisdom of that decision, if you know what I mean!

    That's my advice for now, so take it for what it's worth. Remember, I warned you that I didn't know for sure. :D

    In the meantime, take care of yourself and those around you, and wait for Peter Ansoff's reply !!!

    Robin "Stay Low And Keep your Head Down" Hickman

    PS. Don't be too surprised if your question in this thread gets placed into its own thread (for clarity).
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  7. SSG Samora

    SSG Samora New Member

    Thank you much.. it isn't just about the flag being flown but the general rule. I am on a us base and not at the embassy. The question came about when we printed up an award with the Iraqi flag on the left and the us on the right of the certificate. Based on what I can find in this forum and others the position of honor goes to the host nation. I agree that the Us Flag Code only really applies on Us soil and since this base is leased from Iraq and not owned we are in a foreign country. The flag positioning for our ceremonies and such would need to be changed if i could find this in a code or in a reg. I have exhauted all my means trying to find this in AR's and would like to find it concrete somewhere instead of a round about answer. I looked up pictures of the g8 summits since that is on foreign soil and the flags were always put up with the host nation on the viewers left and the other countries and nations in alphabetical order using the english alphabet. I need conclusive proof that this is correct before I make the changes to our proceedures thank you so much for any and all help.
  8. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, SSG Samora !

    Flags on an award certificate, eh ?

    Okay, here's my best shot :

    If the award is for an American then place the American Flag on the left. If the award is for an Iraqi, then the Flag of Iraq goes on the left.

    How's that?

    If the design calls for the two Flags staffs to be crossed (like a great big "flaggy" letter "X"), I would assume that the placement of honor is the Flag on whose staff is on the top with the Flag to the left.

    I may be wrong about that, BUT I do know that THAT is covered in the U.S. Flag Code.

    Be patient with us... Peter Ansoff should be around here just about any time now!

    Robin "Hey, I Tried" Hickman
  9. SSG Samora

    SSG Samora New Member

    The Flags are on completely different sides of the cetificate in the far corners. But there is also a question of flag displays as well. Now I am not flying flags at all but here in the palace it would be nice to have things right. I am not positive but I having a good feeling that the host nation gets the honor. As far as the awards go it is a matter of protocol and wanting to make sure things are right and not be left up to question. In the end I am thinking that the flags will be switched to the Iraqi having the far left as viewed but i want to have my ducks in a row. We have tossed up tshirt ideas as well and we are in a state that we would like to be right and not offend at all if that makes sense. The Iraqi command is always around and I personally would like to make things right if they are not. To easily is it just tossed aside and not done properly because we are used to being in the States and having the position of honor. Thanks again for the help
  10. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Howdy, SSG Samora !

    I wish I could have been of more (and better) help to you. I apologize if i've let you down.

    Be patient. Mr. ansoff should be around here pretty soon. (It's almost 11:45 AM here on the Pacific Time Zone and I think he lives on the East coast.

    Robin "Well, At Least I Tried" Hickman

    PS. FWIW (MY 2 cents) : If they are "American" certificates (designed & printed), then the Americans have "first dibs" on the "place of honor". If the certificates are "Iraqi", then the Iraqis would have "first dibs".
  11. Briyin

    Briyin New Member

    Hey SSG Samora,

    I talked to a Defense Attache from an embassy and he said the US flag is usually on the right when displayed in foreign countries (whether it be on a flagpole that you're looking at from the front as facing the building or on paper...certificates in your case). Because we are guests in that foreign country, it comes across as too imperialist, basically, to put ourselves in that place (the left) reserved as the place of honor...in these cases, we are deferring out of respect to that host country and giving them that spot.

    All the best in Iraq...hope this helps.

    Rangers Lead the Way! (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

  12. Briyin

    Briyin New Member

    I wish I'd seen the other posts before responding to your post...because what I didn't ask him was "What about on 'US' soil?" like at an embassy? The responders all make good sense...like if the cert is being given to a US or foreign national...I'm keen to read Peter's response to clear this up. :)
  13. SSG Samora

    SSG Samora New Member

    I have looked up pictures of all the emabassies and it is considered US soil and the US flag is in the position on honor. I also looked up pictures of the G8 conventions to see how they were flown in various countries. I am still waiting for a great way to look this up so I can show the general exactly what is right. Wanna have your ducks in a row when you do that lol. Thanks everyone.
    SSG Samora
  14. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, all. Sorry to keep all my fans waiting! (-;.

    First of all, welcome to the forum, SSG! We hope that you and your mates are safe and sound. Please tell them all that we are proud and grateful for what you are doing for us.

    Actually, this question has a couple of "layers." In general, international usage is that the flag of the host nation takes precedence, and is positioned to its own right of other national flags when they are displayed together. This is reflected in the US flag code, and also in the Canadian rules of flag etiquette. I don't know if Iraq has its own formal equivalent of the flag code, but if it does I'd assume that it would follow the same rule. US State Department regulations (Foreign Affairs Manual, Vol. 2) reflect this usage:

    "On U.S. Government premises, the U.S. flag is accorded the position of honor by being placed on the right of a group of sovereign flags. However, in a display not on U.S. Government premises, the flag of the host country may be accorded the honor position among a group of flags of sovereign nations."

    As SSG Samora points out, Army regulations do not provide any additional guidance. AR 840-10 just says:

    "The flag of the United States should be displayed with foreign national flags at overseas installations according to applicable international agreements."

    In general, the rule seems to be that the host flag goes in the position of honor if the display is not on US premises. If it *is* on US premises, the US flag goes in the honor position. I've attached a photo showing flags being set up for a ceremony at the US Airforce Base at Ramstein, Germany. As you can see, the US flag is first in the order of precedence, followed by the German flag, the US Airforce flag, and the Wing flag.

    The Navy's NTP 13(B) has a specific provision dealing with the display of multiple national flags:

    "When displayed with foreign national ensigns, the U.S. national ensign shall be displayed to the extreme right . . . 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 . . . 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." [emphasis added] Navy and Marine Corps regs also have a similar provision for the display of multiple national flags on US Navy ships. In other words, the host nation's goes second in the order of precedence when on US premises.

    The bottom line seems to be that the rule depends on the context. If the display is on a US base, or in a US embassy or consulate, the US flag goes in the honor position, and the host flag goes second before any other national flags. In any other case, the host flag goes in the honor position. With respect to things like printed certificates, it's really a judgement call. If the certificate is for an internal US award, I'd put the US flag in the honor slot. If it involves Iraqi personnel or authorities, or if there were any possibility that the Iraqi side might be sensitive to the issue, I'd give the honor position to the Iraqi flag. As with so many aspects of flag etiquette, there are no magic answers -- one has to make a judgement about what makes sense.

    All that's pretty long-winded, but I hope it addresses the issue. Again, welcome to the forum, and best regards to everyone over there.

    Peter Ansoff

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