Flag Etiquette

Are you wondering how to display the American flag properly? Read below for a list of guidelines to display your American flag with honor and respect.

Raising and Lowering the U.S. Flag

When raising the flag, hoist briskly to the top of the pole. When lowering, it is to be done slowly and respectfully. The flag should not touch the ground or floor beneath it.

Positioning the U.S. Flag at Half Staff

“Half-staff” refers to the point on the flagpole which is halfway between the top and the bottom of the pole. Flying the flag at half-staff is a sign of mourning. When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted briskly to the peak, then immediately slowly and respectfully lowered to the half-staff position. Click here to view our Flag Holidays calendar.

Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on the Same Rope or Staff

No other flag may be flown above the United States flag. The exception is at the United Nations Headquarters where the UN flag may be placed above flags of all member nations.

When flags of states, cities, corporations or organizations are flown on the same flagpole as the U.S. flag, they should be flown under the U.S. flag. The flag beneath may be the same size or smaller than the U.S. flag, but never larger.

Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on Separate Flagpoles of the Same Height

When the U.S. flag is flown with other flags on separate flagpoles that are all the same height, the U.S. flag should always be placed on the pole furthest to the left as it is most commonly observed (such as from the street or when facing a podium). The U.S. flag should be raised first and lowered last.

Other flags being displayed may be the same size and flown at the same height, but never higher nor larger than the American flag. To the right of the U.S. flag would be any state flag(s) in alphabetical order, then corporate or organization flags.

Displaying international flags has its own set of protocols, which is explained below.

Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on Separate Flagpoles of Different Heights

Another common display includes poles of varying heights. The U.S.flag should be flown in the middle on the tallest pole.

The other flags in the display would be flown in this order beginning from the furthest left to right (as they will be most commonly viewed): state flag, the tallest U.S. flag in the middle, then corporate or organization flags, usually the same height as the first pole.

International flags should not be displayed in this configuration unless the U.S. flag is on the flagpole to the furthest left as most commonly viewed. All other international flags should be flown at the same height and of the same size in alphabetical order.

When flying international flags with the U.S. flag on poles of different heights, the international flag on the tallest pole should not be flown at its peak, but lowered to be at the same height as all the other flags.

Displaying the U.S. Flag with Flags of Other Nations

When displaying flags of two or more nations together, they should be flown on separate poles of the same height and all of the flags should be approximately the same size. International etiquette forbids the display of the flag of one nation above another in time of peace.

Flags in an international display should be flown in the following order beginning from the furthest left (as they will be most commonly viewed): The U.S. flag, then the International flags in alphabetical order.


If you have additional questions regarding flag etiquette that were not answered in this article, then it is not a part of the U.S. flag code, and thus dependent on local guidelines or open for interpretation. But if there are flag display questions you would like our help answering, let us know! Call us at 800-369-8085 or email us at info@FlagsUsa.com.

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