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Flying a Maritime Ensign is required by law under the Merchant Shipping Act when entering or leaving port or on demand. Wearing your ensign is also highly recommended during daylight hours, especially within sight of land or another yacht.

Which colour Ensign should I Fly?

Red Ensigns

The Red Ensign, also fondly referred to as the Red Duster, is the national maritime flag or civil ensign for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Union Jack is a land flag produced by overlaying the three individual country flags of the union: Saint George, Saint Andrew and Saint Patrick.

The Red Ensign is a composition of that union pattern in the canton (the top quarter next to the hoist), with the remaining three quarters undefaced, plain red.  Hence the name red duster.

The Red Ensign should be flown at the stern of any motor or sailing yacht registered in the UK, denoting British nationality.

Defaced red ensigns have a pattern or motif on the fly (the half of the flag furthest from the hoist or leading edge)

Typical examples are Jersey and Guernsey Defaced Ensigns, which proudly display the unique identity of those Channel Islands.

Blue Ensigns

The undefaced Blue Ensign may only be flown by members of certain clubs, e.g. the Royal Cruising Club (RCC), the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA) and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Yacht Club (RNVRYC).

These clubs grant this special permission to their members under a warrant granted by the Admiralty. The permit is linked to the yacht registration and must be renewed every five years. Other conditions are also attached to the licence, which is required by law.

Undefaced, in this instance, means without any badge or emblem on the fly. The union design in the canton (the top quarter nearest the hoist or leading edge of the flag) is, therefore, the only part of the flag that is not plain blue.

What Size Ensign do I Need?

Please consult our Flag Size Guide to establish a suitable yard measurement for your yacht

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