The National Flag, Singapore's most visible symbol of statehood, reflects the ideals, beliefs and values of our nation. The creation of a new National Flag was therefore a vital task for Singapore’s newly elected Cabinet in 1959.
Then Deputy Prime Minister Dr Toh Chin Chye was placed in charge of a committee to create a new flag to replace the British Union Jack, which had flown over the island for nearly 140 years from 1819 to 1959.
Dr Toh had firm ideas about the design of the flag. There were to be five stars, which would stand for the five core principles of democracy, justice, peace, prosperity and equality. A crescent moon would serve to signify Singapore’s status as a young nation.
To ensure that the flag would not be confused with those of other nations, Dr Toh studied the flags of countries represented in the United Nations and showed the Cabinet various designs for their consideration. He was initially not in favour of a red and white colour scheme, as he explained in an oral history interview with the National Archives of Singapore:
"I had produced prototypes with different colours for the Cabinet to decide. I explained to them why we cannot use red and white, white and red. White above red is the flag of Poland. Red above white is the flag of Indonesia."
Dr Toh Chin Chye, 1989
But after careful deliberations, the Legislative Assembly endorsed the red and white flag on 18 November 1959, together with the State Crest and National Anthem.
The National Flag was unveiled on 3 December 1959 at the installation of the first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State), Encik Yusof bin Ishak. The ceremony was held in the City Hall Chambers. The Flag was publicly unveiled for the first time at the City Hall steps. The Flag was later adopted officially as Singapore’s National Flag upon her independence in 1965.
The National Flag consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white. A white crescent moon occupies the upper left red section. Next to the moon are five white stars arranged in a circle.
Each feature of the Flag bears a unique symbolic meaning. Red stands for universal brotherhood and equality of man. White symbolises pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant, and the five stars depict Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
Guidelines for the Use of the National Flag
The National Flag is Singapore's most visible symbol of statehood. The Flag reflects the ideals, beliefs and values that we stand for as a nation amidst our rich and diverse cultural make-up. It forms a crucial element of our national identity. As such, the National Flag is to be treated with dignity and honour.
Singaporeans, Government and other organisations may display or fly the National Flag to identify with the nation. Singaporeans are especially encouraged to do this during occasions of national celebration or significance. The use and display of the National Flag is governed by the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Amendment) Rules 2007, which came into effect on 16 July 2007.
A primary concern underpinning all the guidelines is that the National Flag must be treated with dignity and respect at all times.
How the National Flag should be used
If you have a request for the use or display of the National Flag, please read our FAQs below before filling in the request form here.
- It may be reproduced in reduced size representations and displayed at all times, but regardless of size, it must be in its true colours and form, which is in the ratio of 3 (length): 2 (breadth). The official colours of the National Flag are Pantone 032 for the red portion and Pantone White for the white portion.
- When the Flag is displayed outside a building, it shall be displayed on or in front of the building. Outside the National Day celebrations period (1 July to 30 September), it must be flown only from a flagpole, and if it is displayed or flown at night, it should be properly illuminated.
- Within Singapore, it should take precedence over all other flags, subject to international practice. When displayed or flown with another flag, it must be in a position of honour. This means it should be positioned where practicable, either above all other flags or to the left of the other flags, as seen by a person facing the flags.
How the National Flag cannot be used or treated
- The Flag cannot be used:
- in any trademark or for any commercial purpose;
- as a means, or for the purposes of advertisement;
- as, or as part of, any furnishings, decoration, covering or receptacle;
- at any private funeral activity;
- incorporated or worn as part of any costume or attire; or
- on any private vehicle.
- No person shall produce or display any flag that bears any graphics or word superimposed on the design of the Flag.
- The Flag should be cleaned when dirty, and replaced if it has faded. After any washing, it should not be hung out to dry outdoors together with other laundry. Any worn out or damaged Flag should be disposed of properly, and not left visible in dustbins. Torn or worn-out Flags should be packed into a sealed black trash bag before being disposed of.
Use of the National Flag during the National Day Celebrations
In recent years, the Government has taken steps to allow greater flexibility in the use of the National Flag. The Government encourages individuals and businesses to fly the National Flag during the National Day celebrations period from 1 July to 30 September each year. During this period, the Flag may be flown without a flagpole and night illumination.
The business community in Singapore is also encouraged to fly the National Flag outside their buildings throughout the year. This message is not confined to local or Singapore-owned/managed organisations, but also for foreign organisations based here. Foreign organisations are invited to fly the Singapore Flag as a sign of solidarity and friendship with Singapore.
Relaxation of Rules for Non-Commercial Use of the National Flag during the National Day Celebrations Period (1 July to 30 Sep)
Incorporating Flag Design
During National Day Celebrations Period from 1 July to 30 September each year, Flag decals and stickers, posters or other visual images may be displayed freely.
No approval is required to incorporate the Flag into visuals displayed during the National Day Celebrations period and users should ensure that:
- There is no disrespect to the Flag;
- Any Flags produced or displayed should not bear any graphics or word superimposed on the design of the Flag;
- The Flag should not be displayed below any other flag, emblem or object.
Display of Flag
During the National Day Celebrations Period, the Flag may be displayed on vehicles (other than a hearse). Any person may incorporate the Flag or an image thereof as part of any costume or attire except that he shall do so in a manner that does not give rise to any disrespect to the Flag.
During this period, the Flag may, but need not, be flown from a flagpole and it may be displayed at night without being properly illuminated. Please refer to the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules available at http://sso.agc.gov.sg for the proper display of the Flag.
Usage for Commercial Purposes
If you wish to incorporate the Flag as part of any commercial product for sale or as part of a company advertisement for National Day, please submit your request using our National Symbols form and we will get back to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Flag Display Period
- When may I display the Flag?
The Flag may be displayed throughout the year provided if it is displayed from a flagpole. The flag may also be displayed throughout the night, provided that the Flag is illuminated. However, the guidelines on displaying the Flag from a flagpole and on night illumination are relaxed during the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), i.e. the Flag need not be displayed from a flagpole or displayed through the night without night illumination during this period.
- When may I display an actual mini Flag on my vehicle?
Generally, members of the public may not display a mini Flag from their vehicles. However, this guideline is relaxed during the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), with the exception of hearses. Please do affix or fasten the Flag firmly to ensure that it does not come off while driving, as this may cause accidents to occur.
- When may I display Flag decals on my vehicle?
These decals may be displayed throughout the year. However, the primary concern is that the Flag must be treated with dignity and respect. For example, one should not display a decal with words or graphics superimposed on the Flag, nor should the decal be displayed on the exhaust pipe or on the wheels.
- When is the National Day celebrations period?
It takes place from 1 July to 30 September (a period of three months) each year.
- What is the significance of the National Day celebrations period?
During this period, some of the guidelines regarding the use of the Flag are relaxed. They are:
- Incorporation of the Flag or image thereof as part of a costume or attire;
- Display of the Flag on any vehicle, other than a hearse;
- Featuring the Flag on decals and stickers, posters or other visual images.
Approval is not required provided that they are for non-commercial use and users do so in a manner that does not give rise to any disrespect to the Flag.
The Flag also need not be displayed from a flagpole, and may be displayed throughout the night without proper illumination.
This relaxation took place because the Flag is an important National Symbol which many Singaporeans wish to use to celebrate their love or patriotism for the country, especially in the period surrounding our National Day on 9 August.
Flag Display Protocol
- I wish to display the Flag at the flagpoles (there are more than one) at my premises. The flagpoles are all of the same height. What should the display protocol be?
Should you wish to display the Flag together with other flags, please ensure that the Flag is displayed to the left of the other flags as seen from a spectator facing the premises and flagpoles.
If the Flag is the only flag displayed, it may be displayed from any flagpole as long as it is displayed with dignity and respect. Our recommendation however is to display the Flag from the middle flagpole.
- I wish to display the Flag from the flagpoles at my office, but one of the flagpoles is taller than the rest. However, this particular flagpole is not the leftmost one. What should the display protocol be?
The Flag should be displayed from a position of honour, which also includes being above all other flags. As such, you may proceed to display the Flag from the top of the tallest flagpole even though it is not located to the left of all the other flags.
- If I do not have a flagpole, may I still display the Flag at my premises?
In this case, you might wish to purchase a Flag that comes with a stand which may then be displayed on your premises. To purchase such as Flag, please visit the "Banners and Flags" category of the Yellow Pages to obtain a list of suppliers that sell the Flag.
- Can I display more than one Flag? For example, I would like to display the Flag from all the flagpoles on the premises.
Yes, there is no guideline stating that only one Flag should be displayed at the premises.
- Should the Flag be displayed during bad weather?
We do not recommend doing so as it would be disrespectful to do so. Where possible, the Flag should be lowered before the start of bad weather, taking into consideration safety concerns.
- May the Flag be displayed at night?
Yes, if the Flag is properly illuminated at night.
- Why is proper illumination needed to display the Flag at night? What do you mean by “proper illumination”?
This is because flying the Flag in the dark is considered disrespectful. By proper illumination, we refer to spotlights that illuminate the Flag and/or flagpole.
- What if I do not have proper illumination?
As the guidelines state that the Flag may only be displayed at night with illumination, we would suggest that the Flag is raised and lowered daily after sunrise and before sunset respectively. Alternatively, you may wish to install proper lighting.
Flag Raising and Lowering
- When should this be done?
There is no fixed time when the Flag may be raised or lowered. However, as the Flag may not be displayed in the dark without illumination, the Flag should be raised after sunrise and lowered before sunset.
- How should this be done?
The Flag should be folded neatly before it is brought to the flagpole. The officer shall walk smartly up to the flagpole with the Flag draped across his left forearm. Once he reaches the pole, he shall stand at attention, rest the Flag on his left shoulders and secure the Flag to the halyard.
The Flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
When the Flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. The Flag should be placed on the left shoulder of the officer, while he unties the ends of the Flag from the flagpole. The Flag should be folded neatly and placed on his left forearm when he walks smartly away from the flagpole. The Flag should then be stored properly.
- How many times may a flag-raising and/ or flag-lowering ceremony be conducted?
There is nothing in the rules limiting the number of times such a ceremony may be conducted.
- Who may raise or lower the Flag?
It is not mandated who may or may not raise or lower the Flag, as long as the person conducts himself/herself in a proper manner and treats the Flag with dignity and respect.
- Must everyone in the vicinity stand to attention during the Flag-raising or Flag-lowering?
Should the Flag raising and lowering be part of the building’s daily operations, this would be encouraged when practical or feasible, but it is not mandatory. However, it is a requirement to stand to attention during the Flag-raising or lowering when it conducted as a formal ceremony, e.g. school assemblies.
- Must the Anthem be played during a Flag-raising or Flag-lowering ceremony?
It is not mandatory, but we would like to encourage the playing of the Anthem during ceremonies as this adds to the dignity and the significance of the event.
Displaying the Flag at half mast
- When should the Flag be displayed at half-mast?
The Flag is displayed at half-mast during periods of national mourning. Should such a period be declared, a notice will be published in the newspapers stating the duration of the period.
- How do I display the Flag at half mast?
The Flag should be raised all the way to the top of the flagpole before being lowered slowly to the centre of the pole where it is fastened. To lower the flag, the Flag must be raised to the top of the pole before it is fully lowered.
Use of the Flag in design
- When may the Flag be used as part of my graphic/product design for products to be sold commercially or featured in advertisements?
As a general rule, the Flag may not be used for any commercial or advertising purposes except during the National Day celebrations period of 1 July to 30 September annually and subject to our approval.
The use of the Flag in such instances is approved on a case-by-case basis. If you have a request for the use of our National Flag, please read the guidelines of use before filling in the request form here.
At sporting events
- May I wave the Flag during sports events to support the home team?
Yes, as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect. The Flag should not touch the ground at any time.
- I have seen athletes do a victory lap holding the Flag after winning a game. Is this allowed?
There are no objections in such instances, as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect. For example, the Flag should not touch the ground at any time. Please do note though that it is considered disrespectful to wrap the Flag around one’s body (e.g. like a coat or a sarong).
- Where can I purchase a Flag?
Please visit the Banners and Flags category of the Yellow Pages to obtain a list of suppliers that sell the Flag.
- What material should the Flag be?
There is no specific guideline on this, although a recommended material is bunting wool.
- Is there a specific size that the Flag should be?
You may purchase or produce a Flag in varying sizes according to your needs as long as the official ratio is kept to, i.e. 3 (length): 2 (width).
- How do I fold the Flag up to store it?
To fold the Flag properly, it is recommended that the Flag should be held with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground. The steps then are:
Holding the bottom and top edges securely, fold the Flag lengthwise into half, i.e. fold the white portion of the Flag up. The red portion of the Flag should be seen face-up after it has been folded.
Next, fold the Flag widthwise into half, with the stars and the crescent showing face-up after it has been folded.
Lastly, fold the Flag one more time widthwise.
- Must flagpoles be vertical? I have seen inclined flagpoles (those angled at 45° and affixed to a building’s façade).
There are no guidelines as to whether the flagpole must be installed vertically or at an incline. Most flagpoles are commonly installed vertically. However, the Flag, when displayed on a flagpole, should have the crescent and stars on the top left position as seen by any passer-by facing the Flag.
- Is there a specific height for flagpoles?
There are no rules determining the height of the flagpoles.
- Is there a specific number of flagpoles that each building must install?
No. Some buildings have only one flagpole, whereas others have several. You might wish to take into consideration factors like whether you may wish to display others in order to determine the number of flagpoles to install.