Nautical Courtesy Flag Etiquette

Merchant ships are not legally bound to fly a courtesy flag when entering or leaving a foreign port. However, it is regarded as a sign of respect to do so which signifies that the vessel will adhere to the laws and sovereignty of the country.

We have many inquiries as to what size flag should be flown. The general rule is; one inch of fly for every two feet of vessel. Therefore, a 36-foot vessel would require an 18-inch flag.

Red Ensign flown by British merchant ships

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