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Flying foreign flags in America and rules you should abide by 2024

Moving to America, there are obviously cultural differences, behavioral differences, day-to-day differences, business differences, and more, but one thing that you'll notice almost immediately is how many USA flags are flying all over the country. From the gas station to the local high school, flags are everywhere! So are you allowed to fly your national flag too?

Coming from Australia, I can safely say that knew very few (if any) people who owned a flag privately, and only my university carried a flag in addition to government spaces.

It was really a bit of a shock for me when I first arrived. I knew the stereotype of Americans being patriotic and loudly proud of their country but I didn't quite expect to be so visually bombarded by flags as soon as you step off the plane.

I've been asked a lot whether it's ok to fly a flag for your home country in the U.S. and what the rules are to do so (if any), so I thought I'd break it down.

What are the rules for flying the U.S. Flag in America?

First things first, you should know the rules of flying a U.S. flag in America, if you're so inclined to do that. There are a number of guidelines set out in the”flag code”:

The “flag code” is the federal law that sets forth guidelines for the appearance and display of the U.S. flag (“flag”) by private citizens.

Congressional Research Office R45945 (October 7, 2019)

But an important thing to note, for those of you who might be worried, is that:

Most of the flag code contains no explicit enforcement mechanisms, and relevant case law would suggest that the provisions without enforcement mechanisms are declaratory and advisory only.

Congressional Research Office R45945 (October 7, 2019)

This means that these are simply guidelines and recommendations, and you can't be charged with a crime if you don't abide by most of these rules. Following these rules is recommended if you want to fly a flag though as a sign of respect in the country you're flying it in!

So what are the rules contained in the US Flag Code?

You can find a comprehensive list of all the rules here but I've summed them up into a shorter, more consumable list to make sure you know a general concept here.

  1. You should display the flag from sunrise to sunset (and if you want to display it at night, it should be lit)
  2. You can fly your state's flag on the same flagpole as long as it's below the U.S. flag, or you can fly it next to it on its own flagpole, at the same height or lower
  3. You can't choose to fly the flag at half-mast, only the President and Governor of your state can do that, so don't lower that one without being told to (interesting sidenote: on Memorial Day you should fly it at half-staff until noon, then raise it until sunset!)
  4. Make sure you're flying the flag the right way up, not upside down, and you should have it attached by the stars end, not the stripes end
  5. It shouldn't touch the ground (but if it does when you're collecting it, that's ok – the whole burning it if it touches the ground isn't true)
  6. Don't edit the flag with names or symbols or any other marks
  7. When storing the flag, it shouldn't be wadded up, it should be folded (into a triangle)
  8. And if the flag is no longer in a state that looks respectful, you should burn it, privately (making sure of your local and state rules for starting fires)

Basically, in short, be respectful, and take a hot second to think about what you're doing.

What are the rules for flying a foreign flag in America alongside a U.S. Flag?

Again, as above, these are guidelines to show that you are being respectful (and would expect the same respect back):

  1. You should have only one country's flag per flagpole
  2. All other country's flags should be flown at the same vertical height
  3. Technically, you should fly the U.S. flag on the left if you're looking at them

That's basically it. Just make sure you're flying them at equal levels and that shows that you're respecting everyone equally!

What are the rules for flying a foreign flag on its own in the USA?

You are absolutely allowed to do this as well. You don't have to fly the U.S. flag if you want to fly your own country's flag.

There are no specific rules in the Flag Code for flying your own country's flag!

I would recommend basically following the same guidelines though: Be respectful, and you'll be fine!

After all this, should you fly your own country's flag in America?

So now you know that it's legal and you are well within your rights to fly your own flag; should you?

You can do what you want! I'm not here to tell you otherwise, but it's always important to consider those around you and consider your own safety.

You should fly your own flag if that's what you want to do, so do it proudly, respectfully, and follow the guidelines above where appropriate.

Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

77 thoughts on “Flying foreign flags in America and rules you should abide by 2024”

  1. I am a proud American and agree with those who have identified the gentility and maturity that this article uses to approach a subject that is more “hot” than I realized. I fly my American flag on the specified “flag” days. I fly novelty flags during special holidays and I fly a Papal flag during important Catholic feasts (removing it for any coinciding official flag day) . I do not consider any of these disrespectful. My flag flying is not intended to diminish my native country’s importance. Saber rattling over flag flying is just divisive patter.

  2. Note that some HOA don’t allow flagpoles at all. To fly Old Glory you must attach a 45 degree flag holder to the side of your house.

  3. I think it’s important to honor the law and customs of the country where you are.
    For US flag (State / POW/ MIA) rules here are the basics.
    Flags should be the same size or smaller but no flag is to be bigger than or flown higher than US flag.
    US flag can have other US state flags under it.

    Other Countries flags should be the same size (but never larger) than US flag and flow at the same height on separate flag pole.

  4. We have a flagpole in front of our house – we have a very large US flag.
    My husband is Swedish, I am Ukrainian.
    I just purchased a much smaller flag for each country.
    We were hoping to fly both under the very large US flag for July 4th – then read the rules, and it seems we aren’t allowed to do it.
    We really don’t feel like adding two more flagpoles.
    What to do?

  5. I’m an American born and raised and proud to be an American I recently discovered we came from Sweden and I want to fly a Sweden flag but not to disrespect the American flag but i have just one pole so im gonna switch back and forth …my son served proudly but we want to fly our swedish flag without Any fuss so i Will play nice as long as everyone else does

  6. I think it’s disrespectful to fly a foreign flag on US soil without the presence of a US flag as well. It’s not about what’s legal. It’s about What is respectful. Call it’s fine to be proud of your heritage. It’s not find a disrespect your host country

  7. Virginia Dare McGraw

    My neighbor has a half US flag and half Ukraine People are saying it’s illegal but u can buy on Amazon. ? ???

      1. Hi Josh,
        Fellow senior Aussie here…
        Regarding the matter of flags I have an interesting and important story to share.
        In the late ‘80s I had a workmate, an older chap, who’s son worked for the Australian diplomatic service in the United States, particularly on the West Coast, not sure of which city.
        Not sure what circumstances led to our discussion of flags but this gentleman spoke of some trouble his son got into in the United States on Australia Day while he was there working for the diplomatic service.
        Because the house that he was living in, in the suburban areas, had a flag pole, he decided that Australia Day was a good time to raise the Australian flag.
        Within hours he was locked up and on the verge of creating a diplomatic incident because he raised a foreign flag, but did not raise an American flag alongside, as per the understood protocol.
        Now what’s interesting is my research today in 2022 shows some interesting results with regard to the flag protocol and the flying of other countries’ flags on American soil without an accompanying stars and stripes.
        In fact ridiculous faux flags hybridising both the US and the Ukrainian flag are noted to be flying around American neighbourhoods and even reported to have been shown displayed by politicians. (As per…..
        This would appear to be deeply disturbing, given the importance of the flag for any country, as it’s the epitome of the country’s existence.
        I always reflect on Arnie’s movie KinderGarten Cop and the children singing the national anthem while saluting the Stars and Stripes.
        Here in Australia that practice ended, in my observation, when our “National Anthem” changed from “God Save The Queen” to “Advance Australia Fair”, the words to which were convoluted and difficult for youngsters to learn. Anytime it’s sung in public it’s mostly mumbled through by us all, as it’s also difficult for ESL immigrants to tackle. Learning it is worse than homework for most people and I must confess to never being at ease with it’s complexity.

        I have often wondered whether it was a deliberate ploy to actually diminish easy and eager participation in an event that is pretty rare, if not too rare.

    1. Thank you for your article & comments. One of the most comprehensive & polite posts I’ve found! You are on-the-money with your advice.

      I live in an HOA & am putting a flagpole in my front yard. I have researched long & hard on flag laws across our state & the US. I want to fly flags other than just US: Klingon, Ireland, POW/MIA, Pride.

      Thank you, Josh!

  8. I just got an email from the HOA asking me to take my Ukrainian flag down or I will be fined. From the American flag act I realize they cannot tell me to take the American flag down if flown in a respectful manner. From what I am researching, it appears I have the right to fly The flag of my descendants. Is this true? Can anyone lend some insight? Thank you!

    1. Check our HOA policies. If they have it written in as a rule, then they are unfortunately within their rights. However if it’s unwritten specifically to flags, then you’ve got an argument!

  9. I am ordering a flag of Ukraine. I usually fly a United States flag on my porch, however at this time I wish to show American support for another nation that is losing so much.

    I wanted to order the Ukraine flag from another website because they are donating 25% of their proceeds to Ukrainian refugees, however they only offered single sided flags.

  10. Why does it say “Your own country’s flag” ? If the foreign flag is “your country” than you’re not identifying as an America and as such you shouldn’t be living here. Simple. You move here, this becomes YOUR OWN COUNTRY too.

    1. Hi Hoffman, thanks for your feedback! Lots of people live in the US, it’s the melting pot! Some move here for a short amount of time, some move here for a long time, and some move here forever. For many, the country you live in doesn’t necessarily become “your” country, it becomes a temporary home that you contribute to and love temporarily! I was born in Australia, live in the US, but would still call myself an Australian even if I plan to live here for a long time or even forever!

        1. I personally feel it’s disrespectful, and feel the same person flying Their country flag in the US, would feel disrespected if the US flag was being flown around in their country. Kind of Ironic because, its because of the American flag others have the right to fly their flag around. Just think that should be respected. Having both flags up, I feel, isn’t disrespectful. But when only a foreign flag is flown, I do feel disrespected.

      1. Agreed with the very humble reply to the “love it or leave it” stereotype. As an American born and raised I wouldn’t take and offense to somebody flying “their” flag. Not everybody lives here forever for any multitude of reasons. Perhaps they own homes in several countries, perhaps they’re just a temp worker living here for 6 months and the property happens to have an empty flag pole outside? Whatever! America is a melting pot.

        However, if you ARE flying an American flag I do get a bit miffed if the flag code is blatantly ignored.

        Otherwise – have fun representing the things that are important to you!

        1. One other thing to note – America allows any historic American flag to fly in place of the current flag. I suppose this is from the days of expansion where it would be unrealistic to ask everyone who just bought a 49 star flag to go purchase a 50 star flag, etc

          With that in mind, I live in a historic town where Washington had a headquarters and lived for some time. Keeping that history in mind I will sometimes fly the Grand Union (continental colors) flag or the Hopkinson flag (the actual first flag).

          1. Did anybody even buy a 49 star flag? It only lasted for a year and as Hawaii joined the US within a couple of months of its introduction everyone knew it was only going to last a year.

      2. Is it disrespectful to fly a flag that is half United States and half another county- say Ukraine? I want to display this flag, but I don’t want to insult my military neighbors. What say you?

          1. I interpreted JD’s question that it was ONLY ONE flag combined, and not two (2) flags. In other words, on ONE AND THE SAME FLAG, 1/2 the fabric/material displays the American colors and the other 1/2 displaying ANOTHER NATION.

            i.e. for instance I very recently bought ONE (1) FLAG on Amazon with the American flag on 1/2 (positioned on the LF, from left to right) which I would consider to demonstrate precedence. And to the RT or other 1/2 of the flag another nation, and in my case or situation, the Country of Honduras flag colors which are blue and white only.

            This is something “new” that merchants are designing to obviously make sales. Now I would like to display said ONE (1) Flag (on the 20 ft. pole I also purchased) on my my front lawn, is that permissible or would I be disrespecting America and it’s Flag in this fashion yes or no? For I would consider that the “1/2 n 1/2” Flag as I have described above with the American colors coming FIRST or the the LEFT might be equal to or similar to; having one full American flag on the Top of the Pole with the secondary full Flag from any other Nation displayed on the same Pole, however always underneath or below the precedent American Flag.

            1. Hey BN, yep, you’re right but per the rules above you shouldn’t be altering the US flag, or combining it. You should be flying both separately. You also shouldn’t be flying multiple nations’ flags on one pole per the above.

              Again these are just guidelines though, you can do what you want!

            1. Well, that’s Congress. They really aren’t part of the citizenry. Mostly screwballs, regardless of party, and prone to practicing gimmickry.

              I can see issues arrising with neighbors keeping the flags separate and displaying per code would be the most respectful for both. Also, the classier way of showing support for a very serious situation.

          2. yes it would be. I don’t know any country where it be ok to do this out of respect for that country.
            what you should do is fly both flags with USA ?? flag on top.

            1. Flying the flag of one sovereign nation higher than another indicates subjugation of the nation who’s flag is flown lower. Other sovereign nation are our nations equals, regardless of population, economy, or military might.
              How national flags are flown together is reciprocated across nations.
              To fly one nation’s flag higher then another’s is effectively a declaration of war.

            2. Not on top. One nation’s flag positioned above another indicates subjugation. I advise buying a second pole and mounting bracket to allow appropriate display.

          3. That would be weird. I advise flying one of each. Follow the precedent of the U.S. flag on it’s own right, and both at the same height.

          4. I hear a lot of people that want to support Ukraine and you do if your a tax payer. We are paying for this war. Leave the flag thing alone and just show your support by paying more taxes to support them. Us military members fly US flags because it’s who we support.

          5. JD
            My wife is Canadian. I am as American as it gets. I have served and fought . I think the duel flag is ok as long as the US flag is on top. Also it is a novelty flag not the real McCoy.

          6. You can fly another country flag on your house. But not your business, American Flag must be ‘beside it or above’ it. Own a business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. America Josh, This misconception that you have as a non-American that it is “okay” and/or “acceptable” for foreign temporary/permanent visitors to the United States to fly their own country’s flag couldn’t be further from the truth or reality. You being from Australia, a liberal country, you’re not entirely to blame, mate. In fact, it won’t be long before legislators are pressing to have the display of foreign country flags in the United States of America restricted to inside privately owned residences, federal agencies, and foreign embassies located in the U.S. Why? Because this is the United States of America, not Australia or any other country. In order to become a United States citizen, you must renounce your allegiance to any other country. Hoffman was correct. If you’re living in America, it become your country. This is coming to you from a United States Army Gulf War Veteran.

          1. Nothing says “FREEDOM!” like forcing the behaviors of those that live inside your borders. If legislators did, in fact, do that, you’d have a wonderful first amendment case on your hands. The beauty of a country like the US is that you shouldn’t be afraid of being a melting pot of communities and backgrounds and being proud that people are excited and comfortable to share that without reprimand. The US will be my home, and I will likely be a citizen of the country in the coming years, but I will never not be an Australian.

        2. This is false information!!! U.S. Title 4 S 7 states (paraphrase) no forign flag shall be displayed in prominence or above the flag of the United States. It’s law,

        3. Over a century ago, my family fled New Kingsburg and were Germans. The place was taken from us by the Russians and is now called Kaliningrad. I am a proud German even though my grandparents and I were born here. I am an American citizen who is proud of his German roots. My last name is a German one. Am I supposed to change my last name?

        4. A mixed U.S flag with another country (meaning the U.S. flag and another country’s flag mixed half and half on one flag) is an abomination and a disgrace and extremely disrespectful of our nations flag and country!!! Im extremely offended by the sight of it !!! I just passed a half n half American flag/Brazil flag waving and almost threw up !!! Sick to my stomach! Im filing a complaint with the business and town to have it removed!

        5. thats the problem people like you have. If you come from another country you must be able to assimilate.

          It is a melting pot. But USA is still the greatest country in the world, and the only country youre allowed to do the things you do here. Problem is, many of you come and think you want to make it like home. Its not, this is America.

        6. When you melt you incorporate, in other words, you assimilate. Have you ever seen a sports team work independently as each individual player and win any titles? You’re a fool.

          1. To continue your sports analogy with some US-friendly sports terms: If everyone was the same, then who is the Quarterback if nobody leads? Who is the Quarterback throwing to when nobody is especially good at catching? Who is punting? In your world, there’d be no-one excelling at positions, there’d be a whole array of players with no particular skill in any direction. Teams work best when all of the people melt together in a team and excel in their own unique way as well.

            In this melting pot I love the flags, the foods, the colors, the cultures, and the languages. The melting pot shouldn’t remove all your flavor, it should enhance it!

      3. Hoffman – in 2021 you can identify as whatever you like. I like to identify as a rich trophy wife. Unfortunately my bank account does not support my identity ?

      4. I’m an American. This is a free country. I will fly whatever flag I want. And of course I’ll follow the respective rules for the flags in courtesy and respect.

      5. There are ex-pats of other nations living here, and naturalized citizens with close family and cultural ties to other nations. Love and respect for another nation does not preclude or diminish love and respect for other nations. Provided the flag is of a nation that is not opposed to, or at war with the United States, it is in no way disrespectful.

        FYI ulta-nationlism is both racist and fascist in nature.

      6. Excellent, waiting for That. I agree, one should at the very least also fly the American flag if you also want to identify with America like an American and Serbian Flag or American and Mexican flag. 2 flags are better than one. Any non Country flag should also fly below…

      7. Elizabeth Ann Gomez-Crocker

        I agree with only flying American flags in America. I can almost guarantee NOONE is flying a foreign flag in other countries. Americans are getting sick of the globalist attitudes coming here. If you live here, BE AMERICAN! If not, BE RESPECTFUL to the peoples that live here AND LOVE our country.

      8. BULLSHIT…..everyone that comes to America should feel good and proud to fly their own country’s flag. If Southerners can proudly fly the 𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒐𝒖𝒔 rebel flag in America then •ANY• foreigner living in this country should also fly their own home country’s flag!

      9. Not, true because Africa American did not move here, we were stolen from our country, so technically this is not our country by choice.

      10. Not everyone that comes here becomes a citizen or stay here for good. There are people here on Green card or certain work visas etc. I don’t personally see a reason to fly a flag of my country of origin by itself, there may be occasion where it makes sense to fly a foreign flag, like have an international food event or some holiday to only people from that country celebrate, but I believe the American flag should be flown as well. The reason I’m googling information about flying a foreign flag is because I just came back from a jog and I noticed that the hight school in our neighborhood here in Northern Virginia is flying a big India flag all by itself. The hight school is used by the Indian community in the area to hold certain events- I’m not sure what type of events they are, I mean not sure if they are personal like weddings etc. or more like organizational. We have a large Indian community here, so that’s no surprise, but I was surprised by the flag flying in front of the school where my kids go with no sight of the American flag. I was curious what the regulations say about that. I’m an immigrant myself but I’ve spend more years in the US than in my country of origin, and I’m also a veteran who learned to observe these types of things for obvious reason.

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