Patriotic Britons fly flags at their homes and on vehicles to express joy and pride. Even so, you must follow all UK flag laws to avoid breaking British flag flying regulations.
Information in this section explains flag flying rules and what flags are illegal to fly in the United Kingdom. Check when you will need to get consent from the local authorities.
UK FLAG FLYING PROTOCOL: The government regulates the standard rules and instructions for flying ensigns.
That includes the laws for flying the Union Flag - also called the Union Jack Flag - and three other national flags of England, Scotland, and Wales.
The wide range of large advertising flag banners can be emotive symbols. They get used to boost local and national identities. Flag flying also helps to strengthen community cohesion.
As such, the UK Government made several law changes to flag flying regulations in 2012. New rules widened the types of flags you can fly in England.
Since then, British controls over flag etiquette have become much more liberalized. The lifting of the ban signifies how the subject has become more tolerated and less controversial.
Nonetheless, some official commemorative events and celebratory situations still require formal consent from the local planning authority. Yet, the proper flag flying protocol for many other circumstances means permission is not needed.
The rules on flying flags in the United Kingdom fall subject to some standard conditions. As such, all flags flown must:
Following the compliance of these standard conditions is law. Even so, there are three (3) different categories of consent for flying flags in the UK:
Note: The main section about your legal rights and legislation covers extra topics (e.g. civil rights and human rights).
Previous law amendments and new regulations now allow for a wider range of national, sub-national, community, and international flags. The full list of flags that do not require consent includes:
Note: Flying the British flag (the Union Jack Flag) is not illegal in 2020. The flag institute recognises the flags of St George and St Andrew as the national flags of England and Scotland respectively. But, they list those of St David and St Patrick 'separately' because they do not fall into the usual category of a country's national flag.
The flags (or their flagpoles) must not display any advertisement or subject matter in addition to the actual design of the flag.
New regulations allow the attachment of a black mourning ribbon to either the flag or the flagpole. This applies to those flown at half-mast or those projecting outward 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.
Many people asked whether it is illegal to fly the St George Flag in England. They felt discouraged to express their pride during the FIFA World Cup and other sporting events.
In fact, it is legal to fly the flag of St George under UK flag laws. But, the person who flies the English flag must have permission from the owner of the site. It must be flown in a safe condition and not cause any danger (e.g. obscuring official road traffic signs).
As a flag flier you would need the permission of the site owner to display any flags (e.g. public houses). Property owners have the right to disallow flags in their buildings or on any vehicles that they own.
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 the location. Categories of flags that can now be flown according to certain restrictions include:
Note: Flag flying regulations in this category relate to the flagpole or flagstaff. Hence, there are some restrictions for its fixing point or the location within the grounds or garden of a building.
Flying a flag on a vertical flagpole from the roof of a building:
Flying a flag on a flagpole projecting from any part of a building other than the roof (e.g. projecting from the side of the building).
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 rules refer to 'curtilage'. But, they are subject to these conditions:
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 spaces.
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 United Kingdom