Flag Information Code

Sec. 1: SCOPE

The Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques (FIAV) adopts this Flag Information Code and encourages its use by FIAV Members, individual vexillologists, publishers, and others who study flags.


The purposes of the Code are:

(a) to allow basic information about flags to be recorded and transmitted concisely, accurately, and in a manner which (1) insofar as possible eliminates misunderstandings and (2) which is both comprehensible to persons knowing different languages and easy to learn;
(b) to standardize knowledge of flags in order to facilitate comparative studies of flag characteristics;
(c) to provide a convenient system for researchers, publishers, and others to record data for personal use and for exchanges and publication of information; and.
(d) To eliminate, insofar as possible, the confusion that exists in the terminology employed by governments and others to describe national flags and their use.


(a) The following letters are adopted for use to indicate the colors of a flag in illustrations:

R (red)
O (orange)
Y (yellow)
V (green)
B (blue)
P (purple)
N (black)
W (white)
G (grey)
M (brown)
Au (gold)
Ag (silver)

(b) Colors other than those listed above are not abbreviated.

(c) The following symbols indicate approximate color shades:

– (Light)
— (Very light)
+ (dark)
++ (very dark)

(d) The use of a color descriptor without a symbol indicates a medium, normal or unknown shade of the color.


Flag proportions are indicated by a ratio. The first figure corresponds to the width of the flag, which is defined as the side normally attached to the pole or staff. The second figure corresponds to the length of the flag. A flag with a width of 3 units and a length of 5 units is written as either 3:5 or 3×5.


(a) The following grid is used to describe the use or uses of a flag whose primary function is to identify nationality rather than some other characteristic (such as the rank of an individual, the existence or a specific government or military institution, or some other concept):


(b) The six areas of the grid indicate the six basic uses of national flags: (1) use by private individuals and institutions on land; (2) use by nonmilitary government institutions on land; (3) use by military institutions on land; (4) use by private individuals and institutions at sea; (5) use by nonmilitary governmental institutions at sea; and (6) use by military institutions at sea. Private, nonmilitary governmental, and military use is indicated from left to right by the three vertical columns; use on land and sea is indicated from top to bottom by the two horizontal rows.

(c) The grid is to be written or printed in the line of identifying text near an illustration of a flag, together with the ratio indicating proportions. The use or uses of the flag design are indicated by placing a point (•) or an × in the appropriate area or areas of the grid.


The flag information summarized by the Code is not a substitute for a specific textual description of a flag and its use or uses.

[Sec. 7 : AMENDMENT]

[An amendment to the Code may be adopted only by the FIAV General Assembly. Before the General Assembly considers an amendment, the amendment should be discussed by individuals attending the International Congress of Vexillology during which the General Assembly will be held. FIAV members and individual vexillologists are encouraged to propose amendments based on their experience using the Code.] Notes 1, 2

Note 1: Text that is [bracketed and italicized] has been superseded.

Note 2: The General Assembly, XXVth Session, adopted a motion that it “take no further action on the Flag Information Code, thus releasing it from further control by FIAV and allowing future innovation with the Flag Information Code to occur among the Members of FIAV, rather than by FIAV acting through the General Assembly.”

Adopted August 27, 1981 by the FIAV General Assembly, VIIth Session, held during the Ninth International Congress of Vexillology at Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Amended July 5, 1995 by the General Assembly, XIVth Session, held during the Sixteenth International Congress of Vexillology at Warsaw, Poland; July 23, 2001 by the General Assembly, XVIIth Session, held during the Nineteenth International Congress of Vexillology at York, England, United Kingdom. Editorial adaptations by The Flag Research Center, July 7, 2020.