American Flag Etiquette in a Nutshell

Following proper American flag etiquette can get complicated at times; here is a quick and easy guide to use whenever flying or handling a U.S. flag

The U.S. Flag Code is full of guidelines regarding how and when to handle and fly the American flag. With so many rules to keep track of, it can be difficult to follow them all. Here is an easy guide to American flag etiquette everyone can use!

American flag etiquette

When displaying the U.S. Flag:

  • Fly your flag from sunrise to sunset. If you want to fly it 24-hours, make sure it is properly lit up in the darkness. (Here is another article with more details)
  • The flag should always fly above every other flag when displayed on a single pole or lanyard.
  • If you’re displaying several flags in a row, the U.S. flag always goes to the observer’s left. Other world flags can be flown at the same height but state and local flags should always fly lower
  • On special flag holidays, the American flag should fly at half-staff. On Memorial Day, it should fly at half-staff until noon and then be raised to full height
  • When you fly your flag at half-staff, you should first raise it to full staff and lower it half way down the pole
  • When displaying a flag on a casket, the Union should always be placed at the head and over the left shoulder

When storing or disposing the U.S. Flag:

  • Fold the flag in the traditional triangle, never crumple it up. (For more details on how to fold an American flag, check out this article)
  • Proper disposal is done by burning. First fold the flag and while its burning, everyone present should salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and follow with a brief moment of silence. (For more specific steps, read this article on Proper Flag Disposal)

American Flag Flying Etiquette

Make sure you NEVER:

  • Dip the American flag to any person, vessel, or flag
  • Let the flag touch the ground
  • Fly the flag upside down, unless in case of serious emergency
  • Carry anything in the flag
  • Use the flag as clothing
  • Store the flag in a place where it can get dirty
  • Draw on it, or otherwise mark it in any other manner


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14 Replies to “American Flag Etiquette in a Nutshell

  1. Who took the picture of the flag at the top (in the sun)? Does Collins Flags own the image? If so, I would like to ask permission if I could use it? Thanks.

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