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 use and display of the National Flag is governed by the National Symbols Act 2022 and Regulations, which came into effect on 1 August 2023.
These guidelines summarise some of the key rules in the Act and Regulations and are intended to ensure that the National Flag is treated with respect at all times.
How the National Flag should be used
1. True form of the National Flag
2. Display of the National Flag
a. When the National Flag is displayed outside a building, it must be flown from a flagpole in front of the building, and must not be flown at night without proper illumination. However, during the National Day celebrations period (1 July to 30 September) or any other period declared by the Minister, the National Flag may be displayed on a building without requiring a flagpole or night illumination.
(For use of the National Flag during National Day Celebrations Period refer to Part 6 (a) Display of Flags)
b. Position of honour for National Flag display
- Within Singapore, the National Flag should take precedence over other flags (e.g., organisational or company flags). The National Flag should not be displayed below any other flag, emblem, or object.
- When displayed together with any other flag, the National Flag should be displayed in a position of honour i.e., above or to the left of the other flags, as seen by a person facing the flags.
- When the National Flag is hung, it should be hung against a vertical wall or other vertical flat surface, with the crescent and stars on the top left position as seen by a person facing the National Flag.
- The National Symbols Act 2022 and Regulations do not control the display of national flags of other States – this is instead regulated under the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act 1949.
3. Handling and disposing of the National Flag
a. The National Flag should be cleaned when dirty and replaced if faded or torn.
b. The National Flag should not be hung out to dry outdoors together with other laundry as this may be considered inappropriate.
c. Any worn out or damaged National Flag should be properly disposed of by packing it into a sealed black trash bag, and not left visible in the dustbins.
4. Use of the National Flag on Attire
a. The National Flag (including images of the National Flag) can be used or applied on attire for non-commercial purposes without requiring approval as long as it is used respectfully. You can find examples of respectful use of the National Flag on attire here.
- National Sporting Associations should seek advice from Sport Singapore on designs of the National Flag used on competitive attire.
5. Use of the National Flag on Products, Advertisements, etc
a. Permission should be sought if you wish to use or apply the National Flag or any image of the National Flag:
- for any commercial purpose;
- as a means, or for the purposes of advertisement;
- as, or as part of, any furnishing, decoration, covering or receptacle;
- incorporated or worn as part of any costume or attire for commercial purposes; or
- on any vehicle, vessel or aircraft.
If you wish to use or apply the National Flag or image of the National Flag in the ways listed above, please submit your request using our National Symbols form.
These guidelines should be generally observed to ensure respectful use of the National Flag. However, certain rules are relaxed on specified occasions, such as during the National Day celebrations each year. (The relaxed rules can be found in Part 6)
6. Relaxation of rules during National Day celebrations period and other specified occassions
In recent years, the Government has taken steps to allow greater flexibility in the use of the National Flag during the National Day celebrations period.
Individuals and businesses (both local and foreign organisations) are encouraged to display the National Flag during the National Day celebrations period from 1 July to 30 September each year, and any other occasion declared by the Minister.
Relaxations of the regulations during National Day Celebrations Period
a. Display of National Flag
- The National Flag can be displayed on buildings without requiring a flagpole and night illumination.
- The National Flag can be displayed on vehicles (other than a hearse)
b. Incorporating National Flag Design
- The image of the National Flag can be used without requiring approval for:
- Any decoration, e.g. artwork
- Commercial use, including but not limited to, use on products or advertising purposes; e.g. souvenirs
- Part of any costume or attire;
- National Flag decals and stickers, posters or other visuals.
However, display or production of the National Flag during this period should abide by all other rules of display, handling and application. While there is greater flexibility for creative use, the National Flag should continue to be treated with respect. Use of the National Flag image should not greatly deviate from its original design, which would change its significance. Flags displayed for National Day should be taken down by 30 September each year to protect the Flag from being worn out by extended display or neglect.
7. Prohibited Uses of the National Flag
a. The National Flag or its image should not be used:
- in any trademark;
- at any private funeral activity;
b. No flag should be produced that distorts or modifies the design of the National Flag, for example, by superimposing any graphics or words on the design of the National Flag.
More information on National Flag use
Additional examples of how the National Flag may be used respectfully in various scenarios can be found in the examples attached below.
a. General display of the National Flag
b. Use of the National Flag image on attire
c. Use of the National Flag image for non-attire purposes
If you have further feedback or queries on use of the National Flag, you may reach out to our team at https://go.gov.sg/nationalsymbolsqueries.
For details on the legislation governing the National Flag, please refer to the National Symbols Act 2022 and Regulations available here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Flag Display Period
- When may I display the National Flag?
The National Flag may be displayed throughout the year if it is flown from a flagpole. The National Flag must be properly illuminated when flown at night.
During the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), the National Flag may be displayed on buildings and need not be flown from a flagpole or with night illumination.
- When may I display an actual mini-National Flag on my vehicle?
The display of an actual mini-National Flag on vehicle by members of public is allowed during the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), with the exception of hearses. Please do affix or fasten the mini-National Flag firmly to ensure that it does not come off while driving, as this may cause accidents to occur.
- When may I display National Flag decals on my vehicle?
These decals may be displayed throughout the year. However, the display of the decals should not cause disrespect to the image of the National Flag. For example, one should not display a decal with words or graphics superimposed on the image of the National 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, the guidelines regarding the use of the National Flag are relaxed. They are as follows:
However, the National Flag or its image should not be used in any trademark or at any private funeral activity. The National Flag should not be produced with distortion or modification to its elements.
- Restrictions on display of National Flag are relaxed:
- The National Flag can be displayed on buildings and need not be flown from a flagpole or with night illumination.
- The National Flag can be displayed on vehicles (other than a hearse).
- No approval is required to incorporate the National Flag design for:
- Any decoration, e.g. artwork
- Commercial use, including but not limited to use on products or advertising purposes; e.g. souvenirs
- As part of any costume or attire for sale;
- National Flag stickers, posters or other visuals
While there is greater flexibility for creative use, the National Flag should continue to be treated with respect.
Flag Display Protocol
- I wish to display the National 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?
When displayed together with any other flag, the National Flag should be displayed in a position of honour i.e., above or to the left of the other flags, as seen by a person facing the flags.
If the National 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 is to display the Flag from the middle flagpole.
- I wish to display the National 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 National Flag should be displayed from a position of honour, which includes being above all other flags. As such, you may display the National 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 National Flag at my premises?
In this case, you might wish to purchase a National Flag that comes with a stand to be displayed on your premises. Such National Flags may be purchased from major retailers and other stores including online stores that sell the National Flag
- Can I display more than one National Flag? For example, I would like to display the Flag from all the flagpoles on the premises.
Yes, there is no guideline restricting the number of National Flags displayed on premises
- Should the National Flag be displayed during bad weather?
We do not recommend doing so as it would be disrespectful to do so. Where possible, the National Flag should be lowered before the start of bad weather, taking into consideration safety concerns.
- May the National Flag be displayed at night?
Yes, only if the National Flag is properly illuminated at night, unless the display occurs during the National Day celebrations period.
- What do you mean by “proper illumination”?
By proper illumination, we refer to spotlights that illuminate the National Flag.
- What if I do not have proper illumination?
As the guidelines state that the National Flag may only be displayed at night with illumination, We would suggest that the National 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 National Flag may be raised or lowered. However, as the National Flag may not be displayed in the dark without illumination, the National Flag should be raised after sunrise and lowered before sunset.
- How should this be done?
The National Flag should be folded neatly before it is brought to the flagpole. The person raising the National Flag shall walk smartly up to the flagpole with the National Flag draped across his left forearm. Once he reaches the pole, he shall stand at attention, rest the National Flag on his left shoulders and secure the National Flag to the halyard.
The National Flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
When the National 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 National Flag should be placed on the left shoulder of the person lowering it, while he unties the ends of the National Flag from the flagpole. The National Flag should be folded neatly and placed on his left forearm when he walks smartly away from the flagpole. The National Flag should then be stored properly.
- How many times may a flag-raising and/ or flag-lowering ceremony be conducted?
The guidelines do not limit the number of times such a ceremony may be conducted.
- Who may raise or lower the National Flag?
It is not mandated who may or may not raise or lower the National Flag, as long as the person conducts himself/herself in a proper manner and treats the National Flag with dignity and respect.
- Must everyone in the vicinity stand to attention during the flag-raising or flag-lowering?
It is not mandatory, but we strongly encourage it whenever practical or feasible, particularly when flag-raising or lowering is conducted as a formal ceremony, e.g. school assemblies.
- Must the National 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 National Anthem during ceremonies as this adds to the dignity and the significance of the event.
Displaying the Flag at half mast
- When should the National Flag be displayed at half-mast?
The National 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 National Flag at half mast?
The National 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 National Flag, it should be raised to the top of the pole before it is fully lowered.
Use of the Flag in design/attire
- When may the National 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 National Flag (including an image thereof) may not be used for any commercial or advertising purposes except during the National Day celebrations period of 1 July to 30 September annually.
The use of the National Flag for commercial or advertising purposes outside the National Day celebrations period is approved on a case-by-case basis.
If you have a request for the use of the National Flag, please read the guidelines of use before filling in the request form.
- May I use the National Flag on attire?
Yes, the National Flag (including its image) can be used on attire for non-commercial purposes year round without any approval as long as it is used respectfully.
You can find more examples of respectful use of the National Flag on attire here.
At sporting events
- May I wave the National Flag during sports events to support the home team?
Yes, as long as the National Flag is treated with dignity and respect. Ensure that the National Flag does not touch the ground at any time.
- I have seen athletes do a victory lap holding the National Flag after winning a game. Is this allowed?
There are no objections in such instances, as long as the National Flag is treated with dignity and respect. For example, the National Flag should not touch the ground at any time. Please do note though that it is considered disrespectful to wrap the National Flag around one’s body (e.g. like a coat or a sarong).
- Where can I purchase a National Flag?
National Flags may be purchased from major retailers and other stores including online stores that sell the National Flag.
- What material should the National Flag be?
There is no specific guideline on this, although a recommended material is bunting wool.
- Is there a specific size that the National Flag should be?
You may purchase or produce a National 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 National Flag up to store it?
To fold the National Flag properly, it is recommended that the Flag should be held with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.
- Step 1: Hold the bottom and top edges of the National Flag securely, and fold it length-wise into half (i.e. fold the white portion of the Flag up. The red portion of the National Flag should be seen face-up after it has been folded)
- Step 2: Fold the National Flag width-wise into half, with the stars and the crescent showing face-up after it has been folded.
- Step 3: Fold the National Flag one more time width-wise and it should resemble the image below.
- 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 National 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.