The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Flag and Flag Pole Laws

Flag Flying Regulations: Flagpole Permission

Patriotic Britons fly flags to express joy and pride. But, you must follow flag flying regulations to avoid breaking the law in Britain.

UK FLAG FLYING PROTOCOL: The Government regulates the standard rules and instructions for flying ensigns.

That includes the Union Flag - also called the Union Jack Flag - and three other national flags of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Flag Flying Conditions

The wide range of large advertising flag banners are emotive symbols. They get used to boost local and national identities. Flag flying also helps to strengthen community cohesion.

The UK government made several law changes to flag flying regulations in 2012. Nowadays, British controls over flag etiquette have become much more liberalized since.

Nonetheless, some official commemorative events and celebratory situations still require formal consent from the local planning authority. Yet, the proper protocol for other circumstances means permission is not needed.

The UK Rules for Flying Flags are subject to some standard conditions. All flags must:

Following the compliance with these standard conditions there are 3 different categories of consent for flag flying:

  1. Flags which can be flown without consent of the local planning authority.
  2. Flags which do not need consent provided they comply with further restrictions (deemed consent).
  3. Flags which require consent (express consent).

1. Flags Not Requiring Consent

The recent law amendments and changes in regulations allow for a wider range of national, sub-national, community, and international flags. The full list that does not require consent includes:

The above flags or their flagpoles must not display any advertisement or subject matter in addition to the design of the flag.

New regulations now allow the attachment of a black mourning ribbon to either the flag or flagpole. This applies to those which be flown at half-mast such as those projecting at an angle from the side of a building.

Use of the word 'country' in the list includes any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and any British Overseas Territory.

The flags of St George and St Andrew are the recognized national flags of England and Scotland. But, the flags of St David and St Patrick get listed separately as they do not necessarily fall into the category of a country's national flag.

2. Flags Not Requiring Consent (with restrictions)

Most categories of flag may be flown without consent subject to certain restrictions. This refers to the size, the size of characters on it, the number of flags, and their location. Categories of flags that can now be flown include:

Note: Flag flying regulations in this category relate to the flagpole or flagstaff. There are some restrictions for its fixing point or the location within the grounds or garden of a building.

UK Flag Rules: Flagpoles Planning Permission

Vertical Flagpole Planning Permission

Flying a flag on a vertical flag pole from the roof of a building:

Projecting Flagpole Planning Permission

Flying a flag on a flag pole projecting from any part of a building other than the roof (e.g. projecting from the side of the building).

UK Flag Rules: Multiple Flags

You can now fly up to two flags (2) within the grounds of a building. The rules used to allow only one (1) before the changes. These new flag flying regulations refer to 'curtilage'. But, they are subject to these conditions:

Flag Location Options Summary

Green and Blue Environmental Award Scheme Flags

Rule changes allow the emblem of the Blue Flag award scheme to be flown from a flagpole on part of a beach or marina. The same applies to the Green Flag Award scheme or Green Flag Community Award scheme allowing it to be flown on part of a park, in a garden, or other green space.

3. Flags Requiring Consent

To avoid breaking the law, any flag which is not identified above requires express consent from the local planning authority before it may be flown.

Note: Contact the local planning authority for guidance on the consent required for flying a flag in Great Britain.

Flag Flying Regulations: Flagpole Planning Permission in the United Kingdom