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FAQ

For complete information about Canada Flag Protocol, please visit Canadian Heritage web site.

If your query is not answered here, please visit the above link or contact us for assistance. The Flag Shop is a member of the Flag Research Center, the world authority on flags.

  1. What is the standard size of flag?
  2. What size of flag do I fly on a 30 foot flagpole?
  3. What size flag should I buy for my boat?
  4. How long will my flag last?
  5. I am displaying several flags. In what order do I place them?
  6. How do I break a flag?
  7. What is the proper way to dispose of a Canadian flag that is worn and tattered?
  8. What is the proper way to fold a flag for storage?
  9. Are flags supposed to be flown separately or is it alright to fly them one under the other?
  10. Is there some protocol to follow in developing a new flag?
  11. What is the protocol for flying flags vertically?
  12. What are our policies regarding putting writing or appliqués on a flag?
  13. What is the proper etiquette for lowering the flag to half mast? We have received requests to lower the flag when employees pass away but we were told that the flag should be lowered only when a dignitary dies, and then until after the funeral. What are the rules with regards to this subject?
  14. What size of the pennant should be at the top of a 35 feet nautical pole with yardarm and gaff?
  15. A U.S. visitor asks: "On a nautical pole, can we fly our club burgee from the peak if the U.S. flag is on the gaff?"
  16. The Canadian flag that I fly had a disagreement with a tree and has become frayed. This takes in about 1 1/2" on the loose end of the flag. Can this be repaired or must it be replaced?
  17. In International events, what is the proper way to vertically hang flags of all nations?
  18. A neighbor has a large Canadian flag on a pole in her yard. The flag has an image superimposed over the maple leaf. Is this legal or proper etiquette?
  19. Can we fly the Jolly Roger flag (pirate flag) on a boat?
  20. What is the correct way to raise the Canadian flag? Do you break it when it gets to the top, or do you raise it untied?
  21. Can we display more than 1 Canada flag at the time? And can the Canadian flag be mounted on a taller flagpole?
  22. What is the reason for mounting the Canada flag on the left side? Is it because your heart is on the left side?
  23. What is the proper order of precedence for flying Canada's provincial and territorial flags?
  24. I am with a printing company in the USA. Can the Canadian flag be printed on business cards and if so what are the legal restrictions?
  25. I am renting flags from you for an international corporate symposium where all attending countries' (17) flags will be displayed. Other than alphabetical order, are there countries or flags that may not be flown next to each other for any reason? The USA is the host so should that flag be out of alphabetical order displayed at the front/left? When divided into two rooms is there a rule for determining the "start" and "finish" ends of the line of flags?

 

1. What is the standard size of flag?

There is no standard size flag but there are standard proportions for flags. Each national flag has its own recommended proportions, e.g. the Canada flag's proportions are 2:1. The fly is twice as long as the hoist. Most flags in Canada are made in this proportion even though some provincial flags have designated different proportions.

2. What size of flag do I fly on a 30 foot flagpole?

The rule of thumb is 1:4, e.g. a 7.5 foot wide flag should be mounted on a 30 foot pole. Of course, there are some variances. An 8 foot roof mount pole should have a 6 foot flag, not a 2 foot flag because of the distance from the viewer on the ground.

3. What size flag should I buy for my boat?

The rule of thumb for stern mounted flags is 1 inch for each foot of boat length. The flag size also has to take into consideration the length of the boat pole and its angle of mount over the water. Courtesy flags are usually about 18" in length.

4. How long will my flag last?

Manufacturers do not guarantee flags because there are so many variables to their use. A flag that is only flown occasionally will last for decades. A flag that is flown on top of a 15 story building may have to be changed every 3 months. If you are not satisfied that your Flag Shop flag or banner has lasted as long as it should, please contact us.

5. I am displaying several flags. In what order do I place them?

Flag protocol varies in different nations. Most countries stipulate that the national flag holds the place of honour by flying it higher, or it may be larger. In Canada, the Canadian flag should be the same height and size as all other flags, or placed in the middle of three, or on the left of any other number in a display.

6. How do I break a flag?

See diagram for a step by step procedure.

7. What is the proper way to dispose of a Canadian flag that is worn and tattered?

The original tradition was to burn it or bury it when flags were made of wool. Burying was easier and the wool would eventually disintegrate. Now, most flags are made out of nylon, polyester, or other synthetical fibres, when a flag becomes tattered and is no longer in a suitable condition for use, it should be destroyed in a dignified way.

8. What is the proper way to fold a flag for storage?

See diagram for a step by step procedure.

9. Are flags supposed to be flown separately or is it alright to fly them one under the other?

Normally it is recommended that you have a separate pole for each flag, however there are special times when a second flag can be flown on the same staff as a Canada flag, e.g. a Terry Fox flag for Terry Fox day. When flying other flags next to a Canada flag, they should all be the same size and at the same height. Marine flag poles have several different arms [gaff, crossbars, etc] for more than one flag. If you could rig an "arm" on your flagpole that would suffice. Otherwise, you need two poles. If that is not an option, fly the other flag on a temporary staff or drape it from the building somehow.

10. Is there some protocol to follow in developing a new flag?

There is no legislated protocol in developing a new flag but there are some basic design recommendations which will ensure that your flag projects your concept. Heraldic scholars will offer you many dos and don'ts regarding colours and placements. Here are The Flag Shop's recommendations. Keep it simple. Don't use words on the flag, unless they are a motto in a shield. Let the design speak for you. Juxtapose colours that have good contrast so the design is clear. Remember that, if you are going to reproduce the flag by screenprinting, every colour requires a screen. If cost is important, the fewer the number of colours the better. Choose strong colours which have high UV resistance. Pale colours fade quickly. Do not deface another national flag to be the base of your own new flag. If you wish to send your design to The Flag Shop before it is fabricated, we will be pleased to critique it for you. No charge!

11 .What is the protocol for flying flags vertically?

Flags may be displayed vertically. The canton of the flags must be on the upper left corner.

12. What are our policies regarding putting writing or appliqués on a flag?

It is not acceptable to deface a flag.

13. What is the proper etiquette for lowering the flag to half mast? We have received requests to lower the flag when employees pass away but we were told that the flag should be lowered only when a dignitary dies, and then until after the funeral. What are the rules with regards to this subject?

The Government of Canada has a legislated list of occasions for flying a flag at half-mast, but the rules are for government buildings only. A flag may be lowered to half-mast to honour anyone that is important to you. Normally, you lower it on the day the person dies and leave it lowered until after the funeral, or about one week, whichever is shorter. To half-mast a flag, first you raise it fully, and then lower it approximately one flag width. When taking the flag down, you raise it to full position, then lower it completely.

14. What size of the pennant should be at the top of a 35 feet nautical pole with yardarm and gaff?

There is no standard size for a pennant or a burgee. Most yacht clubs burgees are about 18" on the fly.

15. A U.S. visitor asks: "On a nautical pole, can we fly our club burgee from the peak if the U.S. flag is on the gaff?"

The U.S. Flag Code stipulates that no flag flown together with the U.S. flag should be in a higher position. Since the Flag Code does not have a force of law, it is not illegal, but it is improper to put the U.S. flag on the gaff if another flag appears at the top of the mast.

16. The Canadian flag that I fly had a disagreement with a tree and has become frayed. This takes in about 1 1/2" on the loose end of the flag. Can this be repaired or must it be replaced?

Yes, flags can be repaired. Usually, the fly end has to be replaced.

17. In International events, what is the proper way to vertically hang flags of all nations?

Flags should all be hung with the canton in the upper left corner. With a symmetrical flag, it does not really show, but if they have ropes and toggles, rather than grommets, the toggle is next to the canton. To display the flags, the host country should always be on the left from the point of view of the spectators, followed by the other countries in alphabetical orders. No flag should be bigger than the host country's flag.

18. A neighbor has a large Canadian flag on a pole in her yard. The flag has an image superimposed over the maple leaf. Is this legal or proper etiquette?

The Canadian Government protocol guidelines prohibit the defacing of our flag, however, I doubt your neighbour will be prosecuted. Usually, if you complain to your local newspaper, you can shame them out of it. A letter to the editor [perhaps by one of your friends so you don't start a neighbourhood war] can often trigger the focus.

19. Can we fly the Jolly Roger flag (pirate flag) on a boat?

Yes, but make sure you fly your Canada flag as well, so you are well identified. The Jolly Roger flag can be used occasionally.

20. What is the correct way to raise the Canadian flag? Do you break it when it gets to the top, or do you raise it untied?

It should break at the top of the pole. The flag is folded 4 times and the halyard is wrapped around it and tucked in so it can be hoisted to the top, then given a tug to unfurl.

21. Can we display more than 1 Canada flag at the time? And can the Canadian flag be mounted on a taller flagpole?

No problem - Canada can be both on the right and left of a multiple display of flags. If there are only 2 flags, and one is not the Canada flag, then Canada flag is on the left. 5 Canadian flags - that's fine. Every Government of Canada announcement has scads of Canada flags as a backdrop. It would be best to have Canada on the left but, protocol states that our flag takes the position of honour - so higher is a more prominent position. Remember, these are no laws for displaying flags, but there are protocol procedures. (i.e. good flag manners)

22. What is the reason for mounting the Canada flag on the left side? Is it because your heart is on the left side?

There is no official explanation for "why left", but your "heart" theory is a popular one so that is what we tell our customers.

23. What is the proper order of precedence for flying Canada's provincial and territorial flags?

When the national flag of Canada is flown with the provincial and territorial flags, the order of precedence is according to the date of entry of the province, followed by the territory into confederation. Following the Canadian flag, the sequence is: 1.Canada 2. Ontario (1867) 3. Québec (1867) 4. Nova Scotia (1867) 5. New Brunswick (1867) 6. Manitoba (1870) 7. British Columbia (1871) 8. Prince Edward Island (1873) 9. Saskatchewan (1905) 10. Alberta (1905) 11. Newfoundland (1949) 12. Northwest Territories (1870) 13. Yukon (1898) 14. Nunavut (1999). Another Canada flag may be displayed at the end of the line if desired.

24. I am with a printing company in the USA. Can the Canadian flag be printed on business cards and if so what are the legal restrictions?

There are no restrictions to printing the Canadian flag on a business card. Government of Canada officials have a distinctive logo. It is the word "Canada" with a small Canada flag above the last "a". No one else may use that registered identification.

25. I am renting flags from you for an international corporate symposium where all attending countries' (17) flags will be displayed. Other than alphabetical order, are there countries or flags that may not be flown next to each other for any reason? The USA is the host so should that flag be out of alphabetical order displayed at the front/left? When divided into two rooms is there a rule for determining the "start" and "finish" ends of the line of flags?

If you are displaying the flags in the U.S., that flag takes the head of the line. Others follow in alpha order. If you are displaying in 2 separate rooms, we suggest that you have a U.S. flag in both rooms. There are no flags that may not be displayed next to each other. If state, civic or corporate flags are also displayed, they follow in the order listed here. Sometimes, the host countries flag is displayed at both ends of a long display.

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