Flag Etiquette & Port Entry


Flag Etiquette

The main flag flown on any boat is the ensign. The ensign shows the country the boat is registered to and to be flown from the stern.

A UK-registered boat must fly the Red Ensign, otherwise known as the Red Duster.

On entering a foreign country for the first time, the yellow 'Q' flag is flown on the Stb'd side, requesting entry to the port, and is flown until permission is granted to enter port.

A signal flag or the courtesy flag to be flown from the starboard side. The courtesy flag of the country you are visiting should be higher than any other flag.

The Port side is for associations, clubs, houses and company flags. Up to three flags are ok on this side and in any order.


Flags - Dressing a ship or yacht overall

A vessel is considered “Dressed Overall” when the complete set of International Maritime Signal Flags are strung up equally from the bow to mast head and mast head to the stern.

They can be flown for national holidays regattas and special occasions from 0800 until sunset whilst at anchor or alongside.

A typical random sequence that does not convey a message; starting at the bow are:- E - Q - 3 - G - 8 - Z - 4 - W - 6 - P - one - I - Code/answering - T - Y - B - X - First Substitute - H - Third Substitute - D - F - Second Substitute - U - A - O - M - R - 2 - J - Zero - N - 9 - K - 7 - V - 5 - L - C - S.



A collection of various types of cloth cut into squares or triangles, of any colour or design of your choice, generally hung from for’d to aft, or port to starboard, or around a bimini or cockpit area.  To celebrate a birthday, a holiday or special event, or just put up when you are aboard. To decorate the boat in bunting.  

All comments are welcome or should you have any additional items you would like included, please address them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.