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Protocol Office Article 2012.04.01 Cur­rent flag dis­play di­rec­tives

Apart from the regularly recurring general flag display days, federal buildings, installations and facilities display flags only for special occasions. Directives for flag displays for special occasions are subject to strict conditions; the aim and purpose of such displays are to be appropriately evaluated. For example, flag displays may be limited to certain geographic areas or to a single Land for one or several days or for a specific period of time. Flag displays may be ordered only for certain federal properties, for one or more authorities, for the remit of a federal ministry, for one or more supreme federal authorities (e.g. ministries) and the agencies within their remit. The same applies to public-law corporations, institutions and foundations under the supervision of federal authorities. 

Particular in the case of flag displays as a sign of mourning, good judgement is needed to determine the proper occasion, geographical scope and duration of flag displays. Naturally, opinions and objective evaluations may differ. Often, these decisions involve political considerations, especially when diplomatic relations with other countries are affected. However, it is important to realize that nation-wide flag displays as a sign of mourning must remain the exception, as ordering such displays too frequently – also at Länder and local level – would reduce their special significance in the medium or long term and prevent the individual occasion from being properly commemorated. This should be avoided on principle. 

Directives to display flags on special occasions are announced by the Federal Ministry of the Interior to the other federal ministries, which inform the authorities, the offices and the public-law corporations, institutions and foundations under their purview as necessary. The Federal Ministry of the Interior informs the Head of the Office of the Federal President and the presidents of the German Bundestag, the Bundesrat, the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Audit and the German Bundesbank. If uniform practice by the Land and municipal authorities is desirable, the Federal Ministry of the Interior informs the Land governments and their representations to the Federation (Section VI of the Federal Government Decree concerning flag displays at federal buildings). 

Note: Due to the federal structure of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Länder and local governments have their own responsibilities regarding national symbols, including flags. For this reason, directives on displaying flags which apply to the federal level are not binding for the Länder and local governments, although they are free to comply with them.

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