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Colombia - Use of Flags

Last modified: 2024-04-20 by daniel renterํa
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[Flag of  Colombia] (2:3)
image by Željko Heimer, 20 May 2001

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In Colombia, people (private citizens) are supossed to fly or show (i.e. from the window) the national flag on national holidays, so it is safe to suppose that a lot of private citizens own flags.  Recently, several campaigns had tried to promote the use of the flag anytime, so you can actually walk down a residential street and see flags flying from the doorposts.
The flag is supposed to be the national flag:  The Y-B-R horizontal tricolor with yellow 1/2 in height, without any defacements and any length (customary it should be 2:3 but there is nothing in the law spacifying the lenght of the national tricolor; the law is clear on the civil ensign).  However, flying the state flag by private citizens is not uncummon (the state flag is the one with the Coat of Arms on a white circle, bordered in red, when is not the presidential flag or it stands for a military unit, the inscription on the red border is usually "REPUBLICA / DE COLOMBIA").
The law says that only the president and the military units may fly flags with CoA, but as far as I know, nobody is enforcing the law preventing private citizens to use such flags.  I even dare to say that most small flags, those designed to "fly" on a pole standing over a table in, say, a school classroom, have the Coat of Arms on it.
And, of course, everytime the national soccer team plays, and mainly when it wins (and some time for other sport events) you will see the Colombian flag everywhere.  Including those colombian flags with the name of the country in white over the blue stripe, or defaced with the logo of the Colombian Football Federation, or even defaced with the logo of certain beer brand.
Carlos Thompson, 24 March 2003

After observation I am sure that the only flag that flies on land (on poles or on buildings) in Colombia is the plain Y-B-R 2:1:1 horizontal tricolor.  Flags with the Coat of Arms (on a white circle, fringed red, with a legend on the border) are reserved for indoor use (and usually fringed), and almost all indoor flags do use the Coat of Arms, not only those of the President and the Military.
Carlos Thompson, 9 January 2004

Both common Ecuadorians and Colombians use their flags with and without the arms on a daily basis.
Even though norms (laws or decrees) describe the “proper” use of “civil” and “war flags”, there is little knowledge, let alone compliance, with those norms outside police and military related institutions in both countries.
Interestingly enough, Colombian National Police units wear the flag without arms in their uniforms. Ecuador's Army Soldiers, at least near the common border, wear their flag with arms on their field uniforms. Colombian Army soldiers do not employ flags of any kind in their field uniforms, at least within Colombia (too colorful for camouflage).
Many civil institutions (Universities, Labor Unions, Private enterprises, etc…)  in both Colombia and Ecuador do employ a Flag with a arms in their ceremonies, albeit it should employed only as a War Flag.
Inquiring in Ecuador on the subject of the regulation for the use of the arms, the common assumption was that there was a rule somewhere that ordered the use of the arms in every flag, but no one, not even army officers seemed to remember when or which kind of norm so ruled.
In the Colombian case, the latest rule, often unobserved even in the presidential palace, is the decree 1967 of 1991, by president Cesar Gaviria. It can be found here (in Spanish).
Note that the current administration disregards this decree without having ruled it out, as can be found here.    
Nicolás Velásquez, 9 May 2009

Flag with Coat of Arms

Flag with 1955 Coat of Arms
image by Željko Heimer, 20 May 2001

Yesterday, I saw in TV news the US secretary Colin Powell (in Bogota???) speaking in front of two flags, US national and Colombian state (?) flag: it was identical to the presidential flag (white circle with CoA and red margin with yellow inscription, possibly "REP..." in the in upper edge and "COLO..." in the lower one). However, I see no reason to use presidential flag as a symbol of nation during this kind of ceremony. So - isn't it the true state flag of Colombia?
Jan Zrzavy, 6 December 2002

Jan's post led me to this page with extensive extracts from Colombia's flag and coat of arms laws <>.  It doesn't clear up the issue of the possible state flag, but does contradict what we have on the Coat of Arms
Joe McMillan, 6 December 2002

Regarding the use of the coat of arms in the flag, presidential decreeb #1967 of 1991 -you can find it in this link: <> - settled this long-standing issue, by limiting the use of the coat of arms to only two flags: -The President's flag -War flags. Now, in Mr. Powell's visit he was inside the presidential palace, and there the use of the president's flag is atmitted. The National Flag is without coat of arms as is correctly stated in your page.
Jaime Vengoechea, 6 January 2003

There is a photo of a flag at today's NY Times after the rescue of the FARC hostages. It contrasts with what we have in that the seal extends only halfway into the blue stripe. The inscription on this flag reads simply "REPUBLICA DE COLOMBIA".
Albert S. Kirsch, 4 July 2008

The BBC television programme 'Reporters' which was shown on the BBC News channel in the U.K. on 1 November 2009 included an interview with the Colombian Foreign Minister, and the flag behind him looked identical to the flag which Al reported. Is this perhaps a de facto Government-use flag?
André Coutanche, 3 November 2009

This flag above has the 1955 Coat of Arms instead of the Coat of Arms currently in use.
The different versions of the flag with the Coat of Arms are:
1) Heraldic version No. 1 - Coat of Arms version interpreted correctly, according to the Decrees that created it and modified it according to Heraldic norms. See wikipedia and <> (Official Army website for kids)
2) Heraldic version No. 2 - Coat of Arms with blue seas and green isthmus, in general use and generally accepted as the current Coat of Arms. See wikipedia.
3) Government institutions version No 1 - Coat of Arms used by the Presidency of the Republic. This is the one featured Colombia - Coat of Arms. See wikipedia and Official Presidency of the Republic website.
4) Government institutions version No 2 - Coat of Arms used by government entities between 1950 and 1960 (alternating, after 1955, with the one 1955 coat of arms). This is not anymore in use, although some entities do use it, maybe erroneously because of the lack of heraldic knowledge. See wikipediaand Consulate of Colombia in Miami official website.
5) Government institutions version No 3 - Coat of Arms used by the Chamber of Representatives (Lower House of the Colombian Parliament). This is not anymore in use, since all the government entities now use the one used by the Presidency. See wikipedia and <>.
6) Government institutions version No 4 - Coat of Arms used by the Senate of the Republic (Upper House of the Colombian Parliament). Until very recently they used a Coat of Arms different from the previous five (see Colombia - Senate Flag ), but now they have adopted (as the other government institutions have and should) the one in use by the Presidency.
7) Proposal - There was actually a proposal between 2007 and 2008 of changing several elements of the Coat of Arms, in order to be more accurate with the current situation of the country, for example replacing the Isthmus of Panamá for the Archipelago of San Andres and Providencia, but a lot of controversy arose from it, without any formal conclusion. The image of the proposal is at wikipedia.
So the current Coat of Arms of Colombia is the Heraldic Version No. 2 but the one more generally accepted and usually used by Government institutions and sometimes by civilian populatin (specially in electronic format) is the one used by the Presidency of the Republic.
E.R., , 3 November 2009

Flag with Coat of Arms - Variant

image located by Esteban Rivera, 12 May 2013

On April 22, 2013 during a speech of the current President of Colombia, a Colombian flag was featured showing the Coat of Arms but with no circular fringe around it and without any inscription.
Esteban Rivera, 12 May 2013

See also: Colombia - Presidential Flag

Flag with Smaller Coat of Arms

image by Eugene Ipavec, 11 April 2006

I saw the website from the Colombian government agency called Proexport, which is an agency to promote exports and foreign direct investment. The image is the traditional Colombian tricolor flag with the usual coat of arms, but the coat of arms is on a smaller scale.
E.R., 11 April 2006

I estimate the coat of arms disc diameter at 1/4 height instead of the usual 2/5.
Eugene Ipavec, 11 April 2006

I would say that this is not an official flag, even if used by an state isntitution. In Colombia very few people care to follow legal rules about flags, and it is not uncommon to see even policemen with the national flag upside down in their uniforms.
In this case, I suppose a publicist just put an smaller coat of armas into the flag, maybe because he thought it would look
Nicolas Velásquez, 11 April 2006

Flag with coat of arms, name, and stars

Detail of flag. Image located by Esteban Rivera, 12 August 2023

This is a commercial version of the flag, featuring two five-pointed golden stars as adornments. That is: they (the stars) are not part of either the CoA or the flag according to legislation. In this case, the flag is displayed diagonally for indoor purposes (folded).
Esteban Rivera, 12 August 2023

Flag with Inscription

image by Francisco Gregoric, 28 Febuary 2003

The description of this flag of the Colombians in Ecuador was made by Jaime Vengoechea from Bogota, Colombia. He says this flag is used in Football (Soccer) Stadiums in Ecuador, and the Colombian Community of Ecuador uses it too.Jaime also told us that taxi drivers in Bogota sometimes use the same kind of flag.
Francisco Gregoric, 28 Febuary 2003

Yes, indeed I described this flag but I want to warn you about it's use:
1. Some Colombians in Ecuador use it, specially in the context of soccer games between Colombia and Ecuador, where of course a matter of proportions won't help people tell who you support.
2. It could also be seen during the last world cup, where if you recall Colombia did not compete but Ecuador did.
3. The taxi dirver version would be a hand-held flag of I guess 20 by 10 cm.
4. None of these uses are official
5. And it is not a widesprad use.
Francisco is probably aware of the practice in Argentina of writing messages on the white stripe, that range form "Marado sos dios" to things no one understands. Some flagmaker in Colombia propbably thought it would be worthwhile to make this sort of flag industrially.
We should be careful about labelling this the "flag of colombians in Ecuador" nor of the "Colombain Community in Ecuador" , since its use is far from widespread, and I think most colombians in Ecuador would not feel identified with such a flag. The true nature of this flag is one used abroad, particularilly in Ecuador, usually in a context where there woudln't be clarity as to what nation that flag is to represent. And as little flags to put on the window of the taxi. And various other spontaneous uses.
Jaime Vengoechea, 2 March 2003

The commercial use of the flag has been very common with the Colombian flag in football matches.  For some time, a brewery has been sponsoring the Colombian Football Team and in the stadiums they give people Colombian flags with the logo of one of their beer trade marks, so when people is flying the flag to hail the team they are, at the same time, advertizing the brewery.
Carlos Thompson, 2 March 2003

Vertical Flag

image by Eugene Ipavec and Željko Heimer, 25 August 2005

Photos that were taken during Colombia's Independence Day parade on July 20th, 2005 in Bogotá, the country's capital, show the Colombian flag on a vertical manner.
E.R., 25 August 2005

image by Eugene Ipavec and Željko Heimer, 19 August 2008

Flag spotted on 6 June 2008 at Eldorado Airport, Bogota. It was hanged on an hangar and I believe that it belongs to one of two Air Force units: CAMAN or CATAM that are located in this airport.
E.R., 19 August 2008

Flag with Cravat

image by Eugene Ipavec, 4 March 2006

Here is version of the Colombian official flag with cravat on the top of the of the flag pole.
Source: Picture taken from the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on January 26, 2006.
E.R., 4 March 2006

Flag with Coat of Arms and Motto

Detail of flag. Image located by Esteban Rivera, 12 August 2023
This specific flag is a diagonal variant for indoor use; motto is unofficial and added on by flagmakers.

I spotted today on the official website of the General Command of Military Forces website, the Colombian flag with coat of arms and motto. The motto is LIBERTAD Y ORDEN (Liberty and Order) in golden capital letters on the bottom fringe of the outter circle surrounding the coat of arms. The photo was taken on October 23, 2009, in the city of Cartagena
E.R., 26 October 2009

The Cockade

image by Eugene Ipavec, 6 January 2006

This is the Colombian tricolor, cockade version.. I've seen it at special parades. The design is similar to the cockade of the Cartagena State (1811-184). The only differences is the color composition.
Source: Photo at Ministry of National Defense official website.
E.R., 6 January 2006

Flag Macaw

The parrot Ara macao (in English: macaw; in French: ara) is known in Colombia as guacamaya bandera. The epithet bandera  recalls that the bird has the same colours as the national flag.   However, on the images of the macaw I have found, the colours seem to be arranged, from top to bottom, as red-yellow-blue instead of yellow-blue-red in the flag. Well, it is not said that the bird "wears" the national flag!   I guess the same name can be used in neighbouring Ecuador and Venezuela.   Here is image as an example.
Source: Guide du Routard <>.
Ivan Sache, 26 December 2004