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Protocol Office Article 2012.04.01 Flag dis­plays at for­eign diplo­mat­ic mis­sions

Article 20 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961 (Federal Law Gazette 1964 II, no. 38, p. 959 ff.) allows every sending state to display flags at its diplomatic missions in the receiving state: “The mission and its head are authorized to display the flag and the sovereign symbols of the sending state at the mission, the residence of the head of mission and his or her vehicles”. The sending state determines how and in what form this is to be done. Unlike German missions abroad, where the European flag is flown to the left of the federal institutions flag as far as technically possible, some EU Member States hoist their national flag on the left and the European flag on the right. The flag display rules of the receiving state are not binding for foreign missions. For this reason, when mourning is ordered in Germany, some foreign missions may fly their flags at half-mast while others do not. 

Article 29 of the Vienna Convention of 24 April 1963 on Consular Relations governs the use of national flags (Federal Law Gazette 1969 II, p. 1587 ff.): which reads: “(1) The sending state shall be entitled to use its national flag and coat of arms in accordance with this article in the receiving state. (2) The national flag and coat of arms of the sending state may be displayed on the building in which the consular post is located, and at its entrance; at the residence of the head of the consular post and on his or her vehicles when on official business. (3) When exercising the rights granted by this article, the laws, other regulations and practices of the receiving state shall be taken into account.”

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