- Civil ensign
The civil ensign (also known as merchant flag or merchant ensign) is the national flag flown by civil ships (merchant ships and others, as opposed to military) to denote nationality. Countries may have a national flag for most purposes on land, a distinct civil ensign for non-military ships, and a naval ensign for the navy; sometimes two or all of these flags are identical.
In most countries there was originally no distinction between the flag for armed state ships (navy) and private owned, usually unarmed ships (merchant marine). Today many countries, including the USA and France, continue the practice of having a single national flag for all or most purposes.
In other countries a distinction is made between the land flag and the civil and naval ensigns. Most notable for the elaborate flag system is the United Kingdom, that uses the Union flag on land, (inter alia) the Red Ensign for merchant ships, and the White Ensign for the Royal Navy.
- 1 Countries having specific civil ensigns
- 2 See also
Countries having specific civil ensigns
The civil ensigns that are different from the "general" national flag, can be grouped into a number of categories.
Red Ensigns after the British pattern
These are red flags with, in most cases, the respective national flag or Union Flag in the canton, patterned after the British Red Ensign. British overseas territories either fly the plain Red Ensign or a Red Ensign with the respective colonial arms in the fly.
Civil ensign that vary greatly from the national flag
Albania Israel Luxembourg Malta Singapore
Civil ensigns consisting of the national flag with an additional emblem
Well-known examples are the Italian civil ensign showing the shield with the arms of the sea republics or the Polish civil ensign with the arms of Poland. Most of these emblems were added to distinguish the ensign from similar flags of other countries.
Colombia El Salvador Italy Morocco Poland Saudi Arabia Republic of China United States (domestic waters only - unofficial) Finland (Yacht Club Vessels Only - the circled X is replaced with the club emblem)
Simplified national flags
In several (Spain and much of Spanish Latin America, and some European) countries there are two main versions of the flag, a simpler one (usually a striped flag) and a more elaborate one with the national arms. The simpler one is used as civil ensign (and in most cases also as civil flag), whereas the version with the arms is mainly used by the government and the military. In Spain and Argentina the flag without the arms is only a variant for civil use; the national flag is used also as a civil ensign. In El Salvador, the civil ensign also differs from the national flag in the proportions.
Andorra Argentina Austria Bolivia Costa Rica Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Finland Germany Guatemala Haiti Nicaragua Peru San Marino Serbia Spain Venezuela
Civil ensigns differing from the national flag in the proportions
Several former British colonies use 1:2 as a proportion for their ensigns and 3:5 for flags ashore, whereas Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary have it the other way around, with ensigns at 2:3 and flags ashore at 1:2. France is a special case: the overall proportion is the same, but the bands on the ensign differ in width slightly.
Belgium Croatia Ecuador France Grenada Guyana Hungary Slovenia Switzerland Trinidad and Tobago
- ^ the plain red ensign is also used in Jersey, Anguilla, British Indian Ocean Territory, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena
- ^ the Australian national flag is also used for smaller ships
- ^ The UAE national flag is also reported as civil ensign
- ^ the Moroccan national flag is also reported as civil ensign
- ^ the national flag of the R.O.C. is also reported as civil ensign
- ^ the simplified Spanish flag is a variant for civil use. Source:The history of the flag. (Spanish)
- ^ the Swiss flag in square format is used on most rivers and lakes
Lists of flags Master list · Reference list State-relatedMobile militaryMobile civilian Other entities By design By nations
Argentina · Armenia · Australia · Austria · Azerbaijan · Bahamas · Barbados · Belarus · Belgium · Bosnia and Herzegovina · Brazil · Cambodia · Canada · Chile · China · Colombia · Costa Rica · Croatia · Denmark · Dominican Republic · Egypt · Estonia · Finland · France · Germany · Georgia · Greece · Iceland · India · Ireland · Israel · Iraq · Italy · Jamaica · Japan · Kenya · Korea (South Korea) · Kosovo · Latvia · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Macedonia · Malaysia · Mexico · Malta · Moldova · Morocco · Montenegro · Netherlands · New Zealand · Norway · Pakistan · Peru · Poland · List of Polish naval and maritime flags · (voivodeships) · Portugal · Puerto Rico · Rhodesia · Romania · Russia (Russian Navy) · Serbia · Singapore · South Africa · Soviet Union (Soviet Navy) · Spain · Sri Lanka · Sweden · Switzerland · Thailand · Turkey · Ukraine · United Kingdom (England · Northern Ireland · Scotland · Wales · Falkland Islands · Gibraltar) · United States (CSA) · Uzbekistan · Vatican City · Yugoslavia · Zimbabwe
By continent Names in italics indicate non-sovereign (dependent) territories and/or former countries.
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