American Flag Etiquette for Your Vehicle

In celebration of our great nation’s birth, to honor our veterans, or just as a general act of patriotism, many American motorists choose to display the Stars and Stripes as a decal or an actual flag on their car, truck, or motorcycle. Some automakers have released special editions of their vehicles that already have the flag displayed in the appropriate way, like this Dodge Challenger, but for those who’d like to add their own flags, it’s good to know the proper etiquette.

These specific rules and best practices for flying the American flag should be considered before you place your decals, stickers, or fabric flags, so we’ve put together some simple guidelines for you with thanks to the American Legion and several flag dealers that publish rules of flag etiquette.

Flag Etiquette for Cars and Trucks

A single flag should fly from the right (passenger) side of the vehicle. If two flags are displayed, it’s okay to put one on each side, but they should be mounted at the same height and be hung in the same way.

The flag should be displayed with the stars in the upper left-hand corner, with an important exception. A flag displayed on the passenger side of a vehicle should show the stars at the upper right-hand corner. Isn’t that backward? It is, but the reason is that the field of stars (sometimes called the “union”) should always be in the highest position of honor. On a vehicle that moves, that would be closest to the front, as shown in the photo above.

On motorcycles, the flag must be mounted at the center on the rear of the bike or to the right from the rider’s perspective when driving forward, which is referred to as the “marching right.”

When flown adjacent to a state flag or another type of flag, the American flag should take the marching right position. When flown or displayed along with other flags, no other flag should be larger, and the American flag should take the center position and be the highest flag flown.

FAQs About Flag Etiquette on Cars

Q: Is it disrespectful to have an American flag on your car?
A: Not if it’s done in accordance to the rules of etiquette posted above. Decals and fabric flags (flown) are acceptable; however, draping a real flag flat over the hood, trunk, or truck bed is considered disrespectful to the flag.

Q: Is it OK to fly a flag on a truck?
A: As long as it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s field of view or obstruct the vehicle operation in any other way. Note that it’s only acceptable to fly the U.S. flag mounted either in the center or on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Q: Can I fly an American flag from a motorcycle?

A: On the back, yes. If the flag is flown solo, it must be in the center or on the rider’s right side. Any other flags, such as those of other countries, POW flags, service branches, etc., should be displayed to the rider’s left. Other flags cannot be larger than the U.S. flag.

Ready to fly Old Glory from your vehicle? Here are some great options to consider.

Best Subtle, Simple flag for cars and trucks

USA Flag Sticker

  • Not overly large or obtrusive
  • Made in the USA

There’s no shortage of flag stickers out there, but this one is better because it’s proportional in shape to an actual flag, not squished into a three-by-five frame. Reviewers post images of how good this looks on (universally) their pickup trucks and praise its durability.

Best for truck rear windows

Large American Flag Decal

  • Made of vinyl
  • Great for Boats and RVs
  • Can obstruct rear view of smaller windows

Want to go bigger? This one is twice the size of the one above but still proportionally correct.

Best Value

American Flag Decals

  • Manufactured by a vehicle decal company
  • Ideal if you have multiple cars or trucks

Here’s a set of four decals so that you can display the flag on both sides of your car in the proper way. We think these would look great on the back of a truck or SUV, too.

Best for Motorcycles

Fade-Resistant American Flag with Flag Pole Mount

  • Made of spun polyester
  • POW, Blue Line flags also available
  • Not very durable; likely good for a season of riding, though

This is a good one for your motorcycle, bicycle, or trailer. It comes with a pole and mount; just remember to make sure it’s mounted at the center of the back of your bike, or to the right if it’s displayed along with other flags.

Best Temporary flag

American Flag Waving Magnet

  • Stick it on, peel it off, use it again
  • Works great on the fridge, too

For more of an amber-waves-of-grain look, here’s a magnetic flag that appears to be in motion. This one should not go on the passenger side as the stars would be in the wrong position, so it’s best suited for the rear of the vehicle.

Best for occasions

U.S. Flag – Hooks onto Car Window

  • Easy to mount and remove
  • Remember, it must go on a passenger-side window
  • Not intended for highway speeds

For parades or other festive occasions, this nylon two-sided flag hooks in to your second row of windows temporarily. Remember that unless you’re flying them on both sides of the car, the single flag should be passenger-side mounted.

best for trucks

Hitch Mounted Flag Pole for Trucks

  • 6-foot pole, Made of steel
  • Easy mount to hitch

For an ultimate (and, we imagine, temporary) vehicular flag display, run this one up the flagpole. Three-by-five-foot flag (or larger) not included.

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