Ensigns and Union Flags
We are regularly asked by customers which ensigns or flags they should be flying and how to fly them, so here is a quick guide to the most common Ensigns and the Union Flag.
The Red Ensign is a red flag with the Union Flag in the top left hand corner (canton) and is used by British merchant navy ships and private craft. The Red Ensign is the correct flag to fly as a courtesy flag by foreign private vessels in UK waters. Merchant ships from British overseas territories and Crown dependencies can fly red ensigns with the badge of their territory.
The Blue Ensign is a dark blue flag with the Union Flag in the top left hand canton is used by masters of vessels who have a warrant issued by the Director of Naval Reserves, and by the members of certain yacht/boating clubs. These warrants are issued to officers in the active or retired lists of the Royal Naval Reserve and the maritime reserve forces of Commonwealth Realms and territories. They must hold the rank of lieutenant RN or above, and other vessels must be manned by at least four other Royal Naval reservists or retirees. Continue Reading