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British Virgin Islands - Civil (Red) Ensign

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: british virgin islands | red ensign |
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image by Martin Grieve, 7 February 2004

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Civil (Red) Ensign

At United Kingdom - Colonial Flags it is noted that a red ensign is authorized for the British Virgin Islands.
Theodore Leverett, 9 September 2000

Al Kirsch asked: "Is it actually used, as opposed to just authorized? The few times I saw a defaced red ensign in the Caribbean I assumed the vessel was from Bermuda. Hard to make out the emblems at a distance."
My answer is: Yes, it is used! I saw one BVI red ensign in Saint-Tropez one month ago.
Olivier Touzeau, 9 September 2000

Last summer I saw a pleasure craft, which was registered in the British Virgin Islands,  flying the BVI Red Ensign while docked at a pier on Long Island.
Ned Smith, 10 September 2000

The Red Ensign is used, but has not been authorized.
David Prothero, 7 February 2004

The British Virgin Islands Red Ensign has been authorized since 2001.
See British Virgin Islands (BVI) Merchant Shipping Act, 2001 (No. 13 of 2001), accessible on BVI Ship Registry website.
Section 70 thereof, states as follows:   
(1) The red ensign bearing the Virgin Islands’ coat of arms usually worn by merchant ships, or without the coat of arms, is hereby declared to be the proper national colours for all Virgin Islands ships, except in the case of Her Majesty's ships, or in the case of any other ship for the time being allowed to wear any other national colours in pursuance of a warrant from Her Majesty or from the Admiralty.
(2) If any distinctive national colours, except the red ensign or the Union Jack with a white border or any colours usually worn by Her Majesty's ships or resembling those of Her Majesty, or the pendant usually carried by Her Majesty's ships or any pendant resembling that pendant, are or is hoisted on board any Virgin Islands ship without warrant from Her Majesty or from the Admiralty, the master of the ship, the owner if on board the ship, and every other person hoisting the colours or pendant, each commits an offence and for each such offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five housand dollars.  
James T. Liston, 11 January 2010

Variant with Wide Blue Fimbriation

image image by Clay Moss and Martin Grieve, 22 September 2005

I had seen the same type practice as in Bermuda in the British Virgin Islands, only with the colors reversed. This style of BVI red ensign is fairly common in and around the islands. Often times, said BVI red ensigns will be manufactured in the US. Just about every US flag maker who is printing BVI badges makes them up as single units and trims everything in blue. When defacing red ensigns, they use the same badge intended for blue ensigns.
Clay Moss, 22 September 2005