Best Practices & Etiquette For Flying Flags
May 02, 2024 · 5 min read

About American Flag Etiquette

The American flag comes with a lot of history, which is why members of the organization constructed the National Flag Code. This is under Public Law 94-344 and contains the appropriate flag etiquette. Including rules on handling the American flag and honoring the nation’s most iconic symbol of freedom. Although the U.S flag code does not have any penalties, each state has their own individual flag code which may impose penalties for misusing the flag.

In the U.S. flag code, there are specific guidelines on American flag etiquette and how flags should be handled. Respecting American flag etiquette is extremely important and requires careful attention so that your flag display represents the nation in a dignified manner.

If you’re unsure on the flag guidelines, in this article we will be providing you with the best practices and etiquette for flying the American flag.

Let’s get started!

1 - Raising and Lowering

When it comes to raising and lowering the U.S. flag, it must be done respectfully. For example, the U.S. flag should always be raised first and lowered last. One person should lower the flag but it must be done slowly and with dignity. But when raising the flag, it should be hoisted briskly to the top of the pole.

Raising the flag

The flag can be raised from sunrise to sunset, or if illuminated, it can flown for 24 hours a day. But you should make sure if you want your flag to fly at half-staff, you should always raise the flag to the top of the flagpole first and then lower it to half-staff position. Before you start to raise it, make sure your flag is properly attached to the halyard. Raising the flag must be done with extra care and you must avoid letting it touch the ground.

Lowering the flag

As part of flag etiquette, it is advised to lower your flag before sunset and make sure it is folded neatly if it is not being taken down for storage. When it comes to lowering the flag, it should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

The U.S. Flag Code emphasizes that your flag should be maintained in good condition so you should avoid raising or lowering your flag in harsh weather conditions, unless it is absolutely necessary. Strong winds, heavy rain, storms and snow can all lead to damage to your flag and its components.

American flag flying in the clouds

2 - When to fly the flag

The flag should only be raised between sunrise and sunset. Make sure the flag is properly attached to the flag line which is called a ‘halyard’. The flag can be flown every day if you wish, but there are certain occasions such as national and state holidays when a flag display is more respected.

The flag is traditionally flown on many US holidays to mark a wide range of historical events and the commitment of individuals or communities. It is recommended to display your flag outside homes and businesses on these occasions to show your recognition.

Here are the main events where a flag display is called for:

  • New Years’ Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr>’s Birthday
  • Presidents Day
  • National Vietnam War Veterans Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Flag Day
  • Independence day
  • Labor Day
  • Patriot Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Navy Day
  • Veteran Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

3 - Know when to fly the flag at half-staff

It is flag etiquette to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff when the nation or a state is in mourning. In particular, flags should fly at half-staff on certain occasions, such as times of mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential order. This practice should also be considered on memorial day as a sign of respect and honor to those who have served the nation. The flag should be displayed at half-staff from sunrise until noon.

When the flag is flown at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the peak for an instant and then slowly lowered to the half-staff position which is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of a flagpole. To retrieve a flag at half-staff, always raise the flag back up to the top of the pole, then lower the flag as you normally would and then unclip to secure the halyard and fold the flag.

It is important to make sure that if you have other flags on separate staffs, they should also be at half-staff positions like your U.S. flag.

Here are some of the events when the U.S flag should be flown at half-staff:

  • National Mourning
  • Death of Government Officials
  • Memorial Day
  • Government Order
  • Tragedies and Disasters

4 - Fly the American flag above other flags

Other flags may also be displayed on the same flagpole, however they must never be higher or larger than the American flag. If flown on the same flagpole, at the same height, the flag beneath it may be the same size or smaller than the American flag. Alternatively, when you fly your U.S. flag with other flags on separate flagpoles of the same height, the U.S. flag should always be positioned furthest to the viewer’s left.

Key Note: Over flagging a pole greatly diminishes its strength in winds and can lead to damage.

Make sure your flag is positioned at the highest center point. This is referred to as the position of honor which means it is given the place of prominence to show its importance. Another great tip is to never fly another nation’s flag on the same halyard your U.S. flag is on.

This is the order of flags from top to bottom:

  • U.S. flag at the top
  • Other national flags (in alphabetical order)
  • State or territory flags (in the order they entered the Union)

Solar Flagpole Light on Flagpole

5 - Proper Illumination

If you want to display your flag at night, it should be properly illuminated so that it is visible, identifiable and presented with respect at all times. Your flag is a powerful symbol and should be treated with the honor it deserves. Not only does it help ensure legal compliance but also maintains respect for the nation’s identity and values.

How to illuminate your flag display:

solar light on a flagpole

Discover our premium flags online

At Federal Flags we provide 100% American-made, high-quality flags to suit both residential and commercial needs. We’re proud to be American and we know you are too, so we believe you deserve the best flag display to show your patriotism for our nation. Check out our American flags online and shop today! Or get in touch with our friendly team for expert advice.


Explore Our Other Flag & Flagpole Resources

Your Flagpole Awaits!

100% American-Made Quality - Lifetime Shaft Warranty

Shop Flagpoles

Featured Products