Flag flying on government buildings: 2024

Guidance for flag flying on Scottish Government buildings on significant dates.


1. Review

This issue of the Scottish Government (SG) flag flying guidance applies to the calendar year 2024 only.

2. Extent of application

These guidelines apply to the SG, its related agencies and associated departments. The UK and other devolved governments each has its own flag flying guidelines.

Local authority buildings and schools are not affected by these guidelines. The matter of flag flying remaining one for individual local authorities to determine. 

This guidance and the dates set out here are not binding for:

  • other public institutions
  • members of the public 

These groups may fly any flag at any time. No weight of public authority being implied behind such flag flying.

3. Dates on which flags are to be flown

The Saltire, European and the Ukrainian  flag should be flown every day from St Andrew’s House. The Satire and the European Flag should be flown from Victoria Quay. The exception would be as indicated otherwise in the schedule.

His Majesty The King may give a special command to fly flags. The SG Protocol and Honours Team will inform the relevant authorities of this. 

All other requests to fly flags must be cleared in advance by:

  • The First Minister
  • via the Protocol and Honours Team

Guidelines apply only to SG Buildings.

4. Flying of other flags

The only flags that should be flown from SG buildings in Scotland are the:

  • Saltire
  • Royal Standard at St Andrew’s House only (by Special Command or Royal Assent)
  • Union flag
  • Rainbow flag
  • Commonwealth flag (Commonwealth Day only)
  • European flag
  • Autistic Pride Day flag (Autistic Pride Day only) from St Andrew’s House only
  • Armed Forces Day flag (Armed Forces Day only)
  • Red Ensign (Merchant Navy Day only)
  • Transgender flag on Transgender Remembrance Day
  • World AIDS Day flag (World AIDS Day only)
  • Ukraine Flag 

Other flags should not normally be flown from Scottish Government buildings.

5. Superior position

Even number of flagpoles - left of centre flagpole looking towards building. 

Odd number of flagpoles - central pole.

6. Buildings with a single flagpole fly the following flags on date in schedule only

  • Rainbow
  • Commonwealth
  • European
  • Autistic Pride
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Red Ensign
  • Union
  • Transgender
  • World AIDS Day

Two or more flagpoles - flags may be flown addition to the Saltire.

Not in a superior position.

7. How the Union flag should be flown

Broader diagonal white stripe, top left hand side of the flag nearest flagpole.

8. Use of the Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland (RB)

The ‘Lion Rampant’ is His Majesty The King’s official banner in Scotland.  RB/Royal Arms in Scotland (the Quartered Arms) are Ensigns of Public Authority. They are used by The Sovereign or His Great Officers, i.e. Lord-Lieutenants. Then only when acting in that capacity.

In the capacity of Keeper of the Great Seal the First Minister may fly the RB.

The Royal Standard may not be flown without permission from His Majesty The King.

Please contact the Protocol and Honours Team if anticipating a Royal visit.

9. Flying of flags at half mast

‘Half-mast’ - the flag is flown two-thirds up the flagpole.

The occasions on which flags are to be flown at half-mast are:

  • Death of The Sovereign*
  • Funerals of Members of The Royal Family*
  • Funerals of Foreign Rulers*
  • Funerals of serving and ex-Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom*
  • Funerals of serving and former First Ministers of Scotland*
  • International Workers Memorial Day (28 April)
  • The Death And Funeral of Serving And Ex-Serving Foreign Rulers

* further guidance will be issued at the time

10. Acts of terrorism and other human tragedies

Flags should not be flown at half-mast unless a command is issued. The Protocol and Honours Team will be your point of contact.


Email: protocolandhonours@gov.scot
Tel. 0131 244 3403

Protocol and Honours Team
4N.01, St. Andrew’s House

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