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Regulations for Proper Flag Display

The regulations for the proper display of flags are contained in Part 47 of the Administrative Support Manual (ASM). Selected sections are reprinted here so that Postmasters can ensure that the American flag, the Postal Service™ flag, and the MIA-POW flag are displayed properly. To read all of the regulations concerning the display of flags at Postal Service facilities, click on

Administrative Support Manual (ASM)

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47 Flags

471 Flags at Postal Facilities

471.1 Which May Be Displayed

Except as governed by host facilities as noted in 472.21, the only flags to be displayed at postal facilities are the flag of the United States of America, the Postal Service flag, the POW-MIA flag, and, when authorized by the vice president of Corporate Communications, flags directly related to the programs, missions, and activities of the United States Postal Service. Flags of states, commonwealths, or local governments must not be displayed.

471.2 Relative Placement

471.21 When Displayed on Flagstaffs

Other flags are flown below the U.S. flag if displayed on the same flagstaff and at the same level or lower if displayed on a separate flagstaff. When the U.S. flag is flown at half-staff, all other flags are to be at half-staff also.

471.22 When Displayed on Speaker’s Platform

When the United States flag and the Postal Service flag are displayed on a speaker’s platform in an auditorium, the United States flag must occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as the speaker faces the audience, with the Postal Service flag at the speaker’s left.

472 U.S. Flag Display

472.1 Regulations for Proper Display

472.11 Placement

If the flag of the United States is not flown from a vertical flagstaff, the following regulations apply:

a. When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag (blue field and stars) must be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.

b. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a building to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag must be hoisted out, union first, from the building.

c. When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it must be displayed flat, whether indoors or out, or so suspended that its folds fall as free as though the flag were staffed.

472.12 Respect

No disrespect may be shown to the flag of the United States of America. It must never:

a. Be dipped to any person or thing.

b. Be displayed with the union down save as a signal of dire distress.

c. Be used as drapery of any sort whatsoever, never festooned, drawn back, nor up in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

d. Touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

e. Be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as will permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

f. Be used as a covering for a ceiling.

g. Have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

h. Be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

472.13 Raising and Lowering

472.131 Full Staff

As soon after sunrise as practicable, the flag must be hoisted briskly to the peak of the staff. Care must be taken that it not touch the ground. The flag must always be displayed with the union (blue field) at the peak of the staff (unless the flag is at half-staff). No later than sunset the flag must be lowered ceremoniously and not allowed to touch the ground. It must be folded or rolled carefully and stored where it will not be soiled or otherwise damaged. If the flag is wet when taken down, it must be carefully spread out and allowed to dry thoroughly before being stored.

472.132 Half-Staff

Displaying the flag at half-staff means lowering the flag to half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must first be hoisted to the peak of the staff and then slowly lowered to half-staff. When the flag is lowered for the day, it must be raised again to the peak and then lowered slowly before being stored for the night. When the flag is displayed at half-staff during a period of mourning, it must be so displayed on all days included in such period.

472.14 Bad Weather

During severe weather when it is probable that the flag will be damaged, it should not be flown.

472.2 Postal Display

472.21 Where Displayed

The flag of the United States must be displayed on stationary flagstaffs at all Post Offices, branches, stations, terminals, garages, and postal facilities, including leased and rented premises. If the Post Office unit is located in a facility operated by the General Services Administration, that agency’s regulations on the display of the flag govern. If the Post Office unit is located on a military reservation, the military regulations on the display of the flag on the reservation govern.

472.22 When Displayed

When employees are on duty in a postal facility, the flag must be displayed except in severe weather as noted in 472.14. It is raised as soon after sunrise as practicable and lowered at the time of closing or no later than sunset.

472.23 When Displayed Half-Staff

472.231 Specific Days

When the flag is being displayed, it must be flown at half-staff (see 472.132) on the following dates:


May 15

Peace Officers Memorial Day
(see note 1 below)

Last Monday in May

Memorial Day Observed
(see note 2 below)

December 7

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Note 1: When May 15, which is the date for Peace Officers Memorial Day, falls on the third Saturday in May, which is the date for Armed Forces Day, the Postal Service follows the regulations in the United States Code (36 U.S.C. 175) and flies the U.S. flag in the full-staff position, not at half-staff.

Note 2: On the last Monday in May, when Memorial Day is observed, the flag must be flown at half-staff from sunrise, or the hour at which it is raised, until 12 noon, and then hoisted to the peak of the staff, where it must be flown until the time of closing or no later than sunset.

472.232 Deaths of Prominent Persons

When the flag is being displayed, it must be flown at half-staff on the death of any person as indicated in Exhibit 472.232.

Exhibit 472.232 Half-Staff Display on Death of a Prominent Person


On Death Of:

Flag Displayed half-staff::

On All Federal Buildings In:

President or former President

For 30 days from date of death

District of Columbia; throughout the U.S., and its territories and possessions

Vice President
U.S. Chief Justice or
retired Chief Justice
Speaker of the House of

For 10 days from date of death

Associate Justice of Supreme Court
Cabinet member
Former Vice President
President Pro Tempore of the
Majority Leader of House
Minority Leader of House

From date of death until interment

U.S. Senator
U.S. Representative

On date of death and following day

Metropolitan area of District of Columbia; the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth

Resident Commissioner from
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

From date of death until interment

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Governor of a state, territory, or

From date of death until interment

The state, territory, or possession

Prominent local citizen

From date of death until immediately after funeral


Other official, former official, or
foreign dignitary

The flag is displayed half-staff under orders or instructions issued by or at the direction of the President, or according to recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.


472.233 Other Occasions

Other occasions on which the flag may be displayed at half-staff include the following:

a. On days proclaimed by the president of the United States.

b. The heads of government departments and agencies may direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on buildings, grounds, etc., under their jurisdiction on occasions other than those specified which they consider proper. The vice president of Corporate Relations notifies area, district, and plant managers by either broadcast fax or electronic mail of such an order. They, in turn, notify the heads of all postal facilities reporting to them.

c. The flag may be displayed at half staff on days when funerals of returned war dead are being held locally, when the flags on municipal, county, or state buildings and business establishments generally are being displayed in that manner.

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475 Postal Service Flag Display

475.1 Authorized Use

The Postal Service flag is authorized for use as follows:

a. On or in front of Postal Service installations.

b. At Postal Service ceremonies.

c. At conferences in which the Postal Service is participating (including display in Postal Service conference rooms).

d. At governmental or public appearances of Postal Service officers and/or executives.

e. In the offices of Postal Service officers.

f. By all Postal Service vice presidents of Area Operations, district managers, and all field units reporting directly to Headquarters.

g. On the approval of a vice president, when judged to be in the best interest of the Postal Service.

h. As otherwise authorized by the Postmaster General or designee.

475.2 Display Regulations

The Postal Service flag is displayed only in conjunction with the United States flag. The same regulations for proper display of the United States flag described in 471 and 472 must also be followed when displaying the Postal Service flag.

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476 POW-MIA Flag Display

476.1 Policy

The Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 105-85, section 1082, requires that postal facilities display the POW-MIA flag on six specified days each year:


Armed Forces Day

Third Saturday in May

Memorial Day

Last Monday in May

Flag Day

June 14

Independence Day

July 4

National POW-MIA Recognition Day

Third Friday in September

Veterans Day

November 11

Note: If any of these days fall on a non-business day, postal facilities are required to display the POW-MIA flag on the last business day before the designated day.

476.2 Display

476.21 Description

The POW-MIA flag that may be flown at postal facilities is the National League of Families POW-MIA flag that is recognized officially and designated by Public Law 101-355, section 2.

476.22 Regulations

The POW-MIA flag must be displayed in a manner designed to ensure visibility to the public.

476.23 Placement with the United States Flag

No other flag should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of United States flag.

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For a condensed version of the regulations above, see page 92.