Flying the flag
The use of flags carries ceremonial significance, which is referred to as the flying of the flag.
The flag is not a decoration or display element. It must be treated with the utmost respect and must never touch the ground or be soiled, torn or faded. It must be handled with great care and displayed on a flagpole or staff (a flag holder). When a flag is tattered or no longer in a suitable condition for use, it must not be thrown out like any other object. Contact the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie, which will dispose of it in the proper way.
Staff members of Le Protocole fly the flag when it is required during international activities such as official visits by foreign dignitaries and state ceremonials. They also advise the Government of Québec on the relevance of flying the flag, the choice of flags, their placement, etc.
Precedence and placement
Only one flag can be placed on the same flagpole or staff.
When more than one flag is flown, they must be of the same size. The flagpoles, staffs and finials (decoration on the top of the staff) must be identical.
The flag of a sovereign state takes precedence over the flag of a province or federated state, which takes precedence over the flag of a city. The precedence is generally based on the alphabetical order of the usual name (rather than the complete official name). It does not determine an order of importance since sovereign states are considered equals.
At official ceremonies organized by the Government of Québec, the flag of Québec takes precedence. The flags of Canadian provinces and territories must be placed according to the date of entry of the province or territory into the Confederation and not according to alphabetical or geographical order.
If two flags are flown, the flag with precedence is placed to the left with respect to an observer facing the display.
When there are three flags, the one with precedence is placed in the centre, the next in order of precedence to the left, and the third to the right.
Other rules apply when a flag is to be suspended, flown outside, displayed on a wall, etc. To find out about these rules, consult the section Drapeau - Règles générales d’utilisation of the Ministère de la Justice.
The Department of Canadian Heritage publishes other flag etiquette and ceremonial information.
Half-masting a flag is an official acknowledgement of collective mourning. The flag of Québec is half-masted on a set date for certain commemorations and, in other circumstances, mainly for the death of an important figure, collective mourning or tragic events.
Depending on the reason, half-masting applies for a determined amount of time to different numbers of flags, such as the flag flying on the central tower of the Parliament Building or those of public buildings in a given electoral district. Outdoor flags are lowered to half-mast; for indoor flags, mourning is indicated by a black ribbon called a cravat fastened to the top of the flagstaff.
The flag of Québec flying on the staff of the Parliament Building is half-masted at the express request of the premier.
When a flag is half-masted, all other flags or banners in the same grouping must be removed during the period of half-masting or be half-masted as well. Certain flags or banners are never half-masted. When in doubt, consult Le Protocole.
Loan and purchase
Le Protocole processes all government requests for international flags. All administrative units wishing to fly a flag send a request to Le Protocole, even if they already possess the foreign flag. If warranted, Le Protocole will inform them of the appropriateness of flying the flag and may also keep a record of why the flag was flown. In the event that flying the flag is deemed appropriate, Le Protocole may loan flags and flagpoles to the government department or agency.
Act and regulations
The flag of Québec takes precedence over all other flags or emblems during activities or public ceremonies.
To view the complete half-masting regulation or to learn more about specific cases, consult the Regulation respecting the flag of Québec or the Rules for half-masting the National Flag of Canada page.
For information on the flag, its history, deployment, specifications and the application of the Act respecting the flag and emblems of Québec, consult the Ministère de la Justice website .
Last update: June 19, 2020