Are you legally allowed to fly the England flag during ...

Are you legally allowed to fly the England flag during the World Cup?

World Cup flags


As Gareth Southgate’s England team begin their World Cup campaign on Monday evening against Tunisia, we’re taking a look at the law surrounding flying the St George’s Cross flag to show support for The Three Lions.

There’s good news for football fans, whichever nation you are supporting at Russia 2018, as the government has recently updated regulations surrounding the types of flags that you may fly in England.

What to know

Certain types of flags don’t need consent as the recent changes to the law permit a wider range of international, community, sub-national and national flags to be flown.

These include:

  • The national flag of any country, civil ensign or civil air ensign;
  • Commonwealth flags, the European Union flag, flags of international organisation that the UK is a member of, such as the United Nations;
  • Flags of any United Kingdom based islands, counties, districts, boroughs, burghs, parishes, cities, towns or villages;
  • Flags of historic counties within the UK such as Black Country, East Anglia, Wessex, any Part of Lincolnshire, any Riding of Yorkshire;
  • Flags of any administrative area within any country outside the UK;
  • Flags of Her Majesty’s forces;
  • The flag of Armed Forces Day.
  • Saint David’s flag and Saint Patrick’s flag are listed separately as they don’t fall into the category of a country’s national flag, unlike the flags of St George and St Andrew.

What bought about the changes to the law?

Funnily enough, the law was changed due to a demand for a degree of common sense after the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, where councils were asking residents to take down flags on the grounds of health and safety.

Prior to the changes in the law, flying a national flag without permission from a local council was illegal unless it was flown from a vertical flagpole.

A family in Peterborough were deemed to be contravening the law during the 2010 World Cup and were threatened with prosecution because they were flying the St George flag outside of their house. However, there was a compromise; the council conceded that the flags could be flown but only on special occasions. The council took the view that flying the flag from a single vertical pole would be acceptable, their issue lay in the fact that there were two St George’s flags being flown , both at an angle to the house and as a result they took the view that this was advertising.

 Is flying flags on your car legal?

There are some slightly different considerations to make when flying flags on your car during the World Cup. Ask yourself:

  • Does the flag obscure your (the drivers) vision or the vision of any other drivers on the road?
  • Is your flag likely to fall off and cause any form or injury or damage; could it be classed as an insecure load?
  • Is the flag’s size appropriate? Average A4 sized flags typically wouldn’t cause problems but as they get bigger the risk of them cause issues increases.
  •  Would a mascot or emblem that you add to the car be likely to strike or cause injury in the event of a collision by detaching, retracting or bending itself from the vehicle? If so, it would be an offence of the law.

So, although there are no explicit offences, you could potentially find yourself in hot water with the law by having a flag on your car during the World Cup. However, it really comes down to the police officer’s discretion as to whether you will be prosecuted if they feel you have broken the law.

All that’s left to say is the best of luck to whichever country you’re supporting or have drawn in your World Cup 2018 sweepstakes.

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