Courtesy Flags

A nation’s courtesy flag should be flown by all vessels when entering a nation’s territorial waters for the first time (and for the duration of the stay in that country’s territorial waters).

The flag should be flown from the starboard spreader in a position above any other flag. Motor vessels that do not have a dedicated signal halyard should fly the courtesy flag from a prominent position instead (e.g. the VHF aerial).

The courtesy flag should be in a good state and of reasonable size as some officials take offense at yachts that fly a torn or tiny flag.

In some dependencies or autonomous regions, such as the Canaries, Azores, French Polynesia, or Corsica, it is appreciated if the regional flag is flown together, but below, that of the metropolitan power.

More details on Flag etiquette. offers a discount to Noonsite members. provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world.

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