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Proper Protocol for Handling Flags


Flag Protocol and etiquette is important; it shows respect for the flags country, their people, dignitaries and their government.  Flag etiquette covers the proper placement, handling and use of flags.  All country flags should be treated with respect making sure the flag does not touch the ground.

Hanging a Flag

The first step in hanging a flag is making sure the flag is in good condition.  It is disrespectful to hang a wrinkled, faded or damaged flag.  Make sure flags are of close to equal in size, that you don’t mix fringed and un-fringed flags and that you hang the flag with the proper side up.  The CIA World Factbook  online is an excellent source to determine the orientation of a flag. You can also use this site to make sure the flag is the most current in use. Ensure that all flags hang across the front of the pole.  Insignias on flags should be displayed as much as possible; flags should not touch items below such as a chair of table

Make sure all flag poles have a topper.  Only the flag of the United States uses the eagle topper.  When hanging the U.S. flag, make sure to orient the flag so as much of the stars and stripes are showing as possible.  You also want to ensure the eagle is facing forward.


Order of displaying flags

When grouping the U.S. and state flags of the U.S., the U.S. flag should be at a higher level than that of the states and in the center of the grouping.
When grouped with flags of other nations, all flags are set at the same level.  International protocol forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. The U. S. Flag is always to its own right or at the left as you see it from the audience.  Next on display is the European Union flag as it represents a group of countries.  In many events, an international visitor is an honored guest.  The next flag in the group should represent the highest ranking, honored international visitor.  The remaining international flags are on display in alphabetical order.  Lastly on the far right we display the State of Texas flag and the A&M flag.
If the U.S. and an international flag are flanking a podium, the U.S. flag is in the place of honor at the right hand of the speaker and therefore seen on the left by the viewing audience with the foreign flag of honor at the speakers left hand. 


Other Flag Protocol issues

Be sensitive to the current relations between countries when planning an event where multiple flags will be on display.  If you are unsure about country relationships you can contact Shelley Harms in Public Partnership and Outreach at slharms[at] or 979-862-6700.