Civil ensign


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.

Contents

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.

United Kingdom[1]
United Kingdom[1]
Guernsey (UK)
Guernsey (UK)
Isle of Man (UK)
Isle of Man (UK)
British Virgin Islands (UK)
British Virgin Islands (UK)
Falkland Islands (UK)
Falkland Islands (UK)
Gibraltar (UK)
Gibraltar (UK)
Cayman Islands (UK)
Cayman Islands (UK)
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
Australia[2]
Australia[2]
Fiji
Fiji
New Zealand
New Zealand
Bahamas
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Ghana
Ghana
India
India
Malaysia
Malaysia
Mauritius
Mauritius
Pakistan
Pakistan
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
United Arab Emirates[3]
United Arab Emirates[3]
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Civil ensign that vary greatly from the national flag

Several countries have civil ensigns that are very different from the national flag, for instance Malta and Luxembourg.

National flag
Civil ensign
Albania
National flag
Civil ensign
Israel
National flag
Civil ensign
Luxembourg
National flag
Civil ensign
Malta
National flag
Civil ensign
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.

National flag
Civil ensign
Colombia
National flag
Civil ensign
El Salvador
National flag
Civil ensign
Italy
National flag
Civil ensign
Morocco[4]
National flag
Civil ensign
Poland
National flag
Civil ensign
Saudi Arabia
National flag
Civil ensign
Republic of China[5]
National flag
Civil ensign (US Waters Only)
United States (domestic waters only - unofficial)
National flag
Yachting club ensign
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.[6] In El Salvador, the civil ensign also differs from the national flag in the proportions.

National flag
Civil ensign
Andorra
National flag
Civil ensign
Argentina
National flag
Civil ensign
Austria
National flag
Civil ensign
Bolivia
National flag
Civil ensign
Costa Rica
National flag
Civil ensign
Dominican Republic
National flag
Civil ensign
Ecuador
National flag
Civil ensign
El Salvador
National flag
Civil ensign
Finland
National flag
Civil ensign
Germany
National flag
Civil ensign
Guatemala
National flag
Civil ensign
Haiti
National flag
Civil ensign
Nicaragua
National flag
Civil ensign
Peru
National flag
Civil ensign
San Marino
National flag
Civil ensign
Serbia
National flag
Civil ensign
Spain
National flag
Civil ensign
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.

National flag
Civil ensign
Belgium
National flag
Civil ensign
Croatia
National flag
Civil ensign
Ecuador
National flag
Civil ensign
France
National flag
Civil ensign
Grenada
National flag
Civil ensign
Guyana
National flag
Civil ensign
Hungary
National flag
Civil ensign
Slovenia
National flag
Civil ensign
Switzerland[7]
National flag
Civil ensign
Trinidad and Tobago

See also

Remarks

  1. ^ the plain red ensign is also used in Jersey, Anguilla, British Indian Ocean Territory, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena
  2. ^ the Australian national flag is also used for smaller ships
  3. ^ The UAE national flag is also reported as civil ensign
  4. ^ the Moroccan national flag is also reported as civil ensign
  5. ^ the national flag of the R.O.C. is also reported as civil ensign
  6. ^ the simplified Spanish flag is a variant for civil use. Source:The history of the flag. (Spanish)
  7. ^ the Swiss flag in square format is used on most rivers and lakes

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