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Flag and Etiquette Committee
Nautical Flags

Do It Right!

Nautical Flags

Traditionally, three flags have been considered essential to mark a vessel's identity.  A vessel always displays the national ensign (country), the yacht club burgee (fleet), and a private signal (master).  An officer flag was displayed in lieu of a private signal. Today, boaters generally attempt to fly too many flags. They fly flags just because they have them. With the exception of dressing ship, flags should not be used as decorations or as a resume. Flags should be used to convey something specific about your boat or its personnel, whether it be nationality, maneuvering situation, club affiliation, office held, or any number of other things.

This page contains links to flag information and images of nautical flags that might be seen in or near U.S. waters. The information will guide you in flying your flags properly. Hopefully, the information on these web pages will answer all of your questionse, but if you cannot find the answer to a question, please don't hesitate to contact the USPS Flag & Etiquette Committee. (Note, the flags on this website may not be drawn to scale.)

Use the Menu choices on the left or the links below to find the nautical flag information.

[IMAGE]s wit text descriptions

Flag Etiquette

Selection of foreign ensigns


Flags used by United States Power Squadrons®

International maritime signal flags and their meanings

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