How to Properly Display the American Flag

How to Properly Display the American Flag

You love flying your American flag, but is it being properly displayed? We put together this list to help our readers learn the Dos and Don'ts of flag flying. 

Public Law 94-344 is known as the Federal Flag Code. It contains rules for displaying and handling the American flag. This public law does not contain any penalties for not adhering to the guidelines, however, you will want to abide by these guidelines as much as possible to show our nation's flag the upmost respect. Additionally, some states and local municipalities may have imposed their own guidelines and rules for flying the American flag, which may impose penalties when not followed. Please check your state and local laws if interested.

Guidelines To Follow:

  • Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness.
  • The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag. It is a good idea to take your flag in if you know it is going to storm/rain. 
  • It should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.
  • The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days. It should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag may be flown at half-staff to honor a newly deceased federal or state government official by order of the president or the governor, respectively. On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon.
  • During the hoisting or lowering of the flag or when it passes in parade or review, Americans should stand at attention facing the flag and place their right hand over the heart. Uniformed military members render the military salute. Men not in uniform should remove any headdress and hold it with their right hand at their left shoulder, the hand resting over the heart. Those who are not U.S. citizens should stand at attention.
  • When the flag is worn out or otherwise no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
  • ALWAYS remember, when displaying the American Flag the Union (the Stars) always goes to the top left, as it would appear from the main viewpoint. 

    Things Not to Do:

    • The flag should never be draped or drawn back in folds. Draped red, white, and blue bunting should be used for decoration, with the blue at the top and red at the bottom.
    • Don't burn the flag, unless respectfully retiring. 
    • Out of respect for the U.S. flag, never:

      -use the flag for advertising or promotion purposes or print it on paper napkins, boxes, or anything else intended for temporary use and discard.
      -dip it for any person or thing, even though state flags, regimental colors, and other flags
      may be dipped as a mark of honor.
      -display it with the union down, except as a signal of distress.
      -let the flag touch anything beneath it: ground, floor, water, merchandise.
      -carry it horizontally, but always aloft.
      -fasten or display it in a way that will permit it to be damaged or soiled.
      -place anything on the flag, including letters, insignia, or designs of any kind.
      -use it for holding anything.
      -use it as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should not be used on a costume or 
      athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers, and firefighters.

      This information was gathered from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: "Celebrating America's Freedoms" Guidelines for Display of the Flag.


    • John Lewis

      I fly a 4 × 6 American made flag on the rear passenger side of my pick up 24/7 with red white and blue lights around the upper rear half of the truck . Is there any flag violations there ?

    • Susan

      The place to get a Made in America
      Flag is by donating to Veterans of America or donating to a charity for Veterans.

    • Clifford Stern

      Thank you for this data. However, what about the flags that are made to mount on car rear door windows? Please show the proper way to mount.

    • James Hemby


    • Kim Murphy

      Is there a designated requirement for the height of the flagpole at our single family home ?

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