Moving with an American Flag
Flag etiquette for moving and storage
For more than 200 years, the American flag has served as the emblem of the United States. To show respect for the nation and values the flag represents, many people choose to display one at their homes. Flying a flag and learning about proper etiquette is an important concept for many families, but what do you do with it during a move? Can you pack it with your other belongings or does it need a special box? Learn the best way to get a flag to your new home and get tips for putting one in storage.
How to fold a flag
The first step in moving an American flag is to fold it so it can be transported safely. Keep in mind that the steps for folding a flag were designed for military ceremonies — different sized flags can still fold in this manner, but the proportions will make them look slightly different. If you’re making a long-distance move, you may need to roll the flag instead (learn more in the infographic below).
Using two people, stretch the flag out and hold it waist high.
Fold the flag in half lengthwise — stripes over stars. Be sure to offset the edges so that no red is showing when the flag is completely folded.
Fold it in half again lengthwise, keeping the stars on the outside.
Beginning at the striped end, make a triangle fold.
Fold it over again, making a second triangle.
Continue making triangle folds until you reach the end.
Tuck the edges into the triangle to secure the flag. When completely folded, you should only see the blue field of stars.
Once the flag is properly folded, it’s time to pack it!
Best practices for packing and storing Old Glory
There aren’t any official rules or guidelines from the government about packing and storing the American flag, but it should always be handled with care. Take these precautions to avoid damage:
How to pack
- Let it dry thoroughly before packing to prevent mildew
- Put acid-free paper around it to protect the fabric
- Place it in a plastic bag or box to keep it clean (roll with acid free paper and place in a mailing tube if it won’t be unpacked for an extended period of time)
How to store
- Keep it out of direct sunlight to stop colors from fading
- Avoid exposure to high levels of humidity or extreme temperatures
- Roll it or lay it flat if storing long-term (keeping it folded can lead to permanent creases)
Pro tip: Instead of putting a flag in a storage unit or packing it in the moving equipment, consider taking it with you in your vehicle. This way you can keep it in a controlled environment to prevent damage from heat and light.
Tips for flying a flag at home
Did you know Congress has specific rules and regulations when it comes to how you can display and care for the American flag? It’s called the United States Code and, among other things, it covers how it can be flown in all sorts of situations. When setting up the flag at your new home, follow these guidelines:
- Put it in the proper place. Ideally, an American flag should be flown from a staff that angles out from a front wall or balcony. Attach it securely so it won’t move once you have it in place, and so it won’t touch the ground, floor or anything else that may be beneath it. It should also always be at the most prominent point if displayed with other flags or pennants.
- Keep it lighted. Most times, the flag is flown from sunrise to sunset. However, the U.S. Code says it can be displayed at night if it’s illuminated.
- Avoid inclement weather. Best practice is to avoid flying the flag during rain or other harsh conditions. Fortunately, most outdoor flags are made from all-weather material, so if weather hits unexpectedly it won’t be ruined.
Do you have questions about how to move, store or display an American flag? Let us know in the comments and we’ll find the answer!