The national flag is the flag with only the sea-blue cross on a white field. Common problems are to color the flag sky-blue (turquoise) and include the red-and-gold coat of arms. The color of the cross is the pure blue of deep sea. The flags with the coat of arms are reserved for the state only, not for use a national flag. Everyone has the right to fly a national flag, but not the state flag.
Translation by Ossi Raivio, italics are comments. Note: Unlike many other laws, the Finnish law is not copyrighted.
The Finnish Flag Law
(Dated May 26, 1978; Act No. 380/78)
The Finnish flag includes a blue cross on white background. The flag is either national or state flag.
The national flag is rectangular and its proportions are:
- width 11 and length 18 measure units;
- width of arm of the cross 3 measure units; and
- width of the fields 4, length of the hoist fields 5 and length of the fly fields 10 measure units.
The state flag is either rectangular or swallow-tailed. It includes the coat of arms of the state in the middle square formed by the arms of the cross. The square has a yellow contour, the width of which is 1/40 of the width of the cross.
The state flag is not intended for general use as a national flag but for the government.
The rectangular state flag has the same proportions as the national flag.
This is for civilian officials.
The swallow-tailed state flag is one measure unit longer, so that the length of its fly fields is 6 and the length of the tails 5 measure units. The middle tail is isosceles and the arm of the cross forms its base. The outer tails do not form angle with the upper or lower side of the flag.
This is for the military.
Everybody has the right to use the national flag.
All Finnish vessels use as a nationality sign the national flag, apart from those mentioned in the fifth paragraph. A yacht may use as its nationality sign a special flag; a separate statute will be given for further regulations. This means the flag of the Sailing society, which has an a additional white, thin cross cutting the arms of the blue cross in half, and the Society's sign in the upper hoist field.
The rectangular state flag is to be used by the Parliament; the Government and its ministries; the Supreme Court; the Supreme Administrative Court; central administration boards and all comparable civil service departments and institutions; Courts of Appeal; provincial governments; ecclesiastical chapters; the Orthodox Synod; Finnish embassies and consulates and all comparable diplomatical representations; the Bank of Finland; the National Pension Fund; the Finnish Academy; frontier guard; state universities and the lukios; and state's vessels.
Institutions, apart from those mentioned in the first clause, can be given the right to use the rectangular state flag with a separate statute.
The swallow-tailed state flag is to be used by the Finnish Defence Forces, its departments, institutions, units, and vessels.
President of the Republic uses a swallow-tailed state flag with a blue-yellow Cross of Freedom in the upper hoist field. The Cross of Freedom is a blue Maltese Cross, that is, a equal-armed cross with arms widening as it radiates from the center, with a thin yellow swastika inside.
It is not allowed to add any extra signs to the Finnish flag, apart from cases mentioned in this law. The flag with Häkkinen written on the cross is illegal!
A swallow-tailed flag with a special sign in the upper hoist field may be used as a command flag of Minister of Defence or Commander of the Defence Forces and as a navy command flag in armed vessels. The President of the Republic determines the form of that sign.
The Government will give more detailed specifications about the colours of the Finnish flag. Apart from the official PMS294C, a good approximation is RGB #0033CC.
The one who damages the Finnish flag, or treats it in an unrespectful way, or without permission takes off an openly out-put Finnish flag, shall be fined for flag defamation. This means that it is illegal to put a Finnish flag on a coffin and bury it. The law refers to damaging, but as you can infer, this refers to intentional damage. Accidentally damaged or worn out flags cannot be thrown into the garbage or burned publicly. It is not considered a part of freedom of speech to burn the flag as a statement. On the contrary, burning is even recommended in the case it ensures that the flag isn't thrown into the garbage, to be dumped into a landfill. To follow the spirit of the law, you can cut the flag along the seams, leaving only white and blue pieces of cloth, which do not constitute a flag, and can be burned without controversy.
The one who without permission uses the flag of President of the Republic or other state flag, or sells a Finnish flag with extra signs that are prohibited in the sixth paragraph, or sells as a Finnish flag such flag that does not fulfill the regulations in this law or other instructions, shall be fined for disobeying regulations about the Finnish flag. A woman in Tampere was fined for hanging the flag as curtains into a window.
More detailed regulations about enforcing of this law and about flagging with the Finnish flag will be given in a separate statute.
This law takes effect on June 1, 1978. This law revokes the Law about the Finnish flag, given on May 29, 1918.
A association flag or other flag that is against the sixth paragraph of this law may be used till the end of year 1980.
Statute About Flagging with the Finnish Flag
(Given on May 26, 1978; Act No. 383/78)
Due to Prime Minister's proposal based on the 9 § of the Law About the Finnish Flag (380/78) this is prescribed:
If a building is used by state's bureau or institute or building is Aland Island's official building, a Finnish flag shall be rised on it or nearby it on an official flagging day. The flag has to be that kind of Finnish flag, which the bureau is prescribed to use. Åland has its own flag, so an explicit law was needed.
The official flagging days are:
- February 28, day of Kalevala, the day of Finnish culture;
- May 1, day of Finnish work; (Vappu)
- second sunday of May, Mother's Day;
- June 4, day of flag celebration of the Finnish Defence Forces;
- Saturday between July 20 and July 26, Midsummer Day, the day of the Finnish flag;
- December 6, Independence Day;
- the day, when national election, municipal election, European Parliament election or advisory referendum is being held everywhere in the Republic; and
- the day, when President of the Republic takes office.
Each ministry can in special occasion order state's bureaus and institutes to flag nationally or in single municipalities even when it is not an official flagging day.
Ministries and provincial governments can order bureaus and institutes subjected to them to flag even when it is not an official flagging day.
State's bureau or institute has right to flag due to a special celebration or when a common flagging is being held in its home municipality.
State's vessel shall flag according to international habits.
Flagging begins at 8.00 and ends when the sun sets, not later than at 21.00. The chief of a bureau or institute can order to make an exception to this due to some special reason or due to local circumstances.
The flagging on the day of the Finnish flag begins on Midsummer Eve at 18.00 and ends on Midsummer Day at 21.00. This makes sense, because the sun may not set: see midnight sun. On Independence Day and on such election day, when the voting ends after the sunset, flagging ends at 20.00.
If the Finnish flag is used publicly with other flags, standars, pennants, or comparable, the Finnish flag has to be placed in the most valuable position.
This paragraph refers to private and other non-national flags. National and international flags (the EU flag, for example) are placed in positions of equal value.
Each ministry gives more detailed orders about flagging.
This statute takes effect on June 1, 1978.
This statute revokes:
- the statute about official use of the Finnish flag and about public flagging with other kinds of flags, given on April 27, 1934 (178/34), with its later changes;
- the statute about the flags and pennants of the National Board of Navigation, given on March 18, 1919;
- the statute about using Finnish state flags, given on November 12, 1920 (283/20); and
- the statute about pilot, postal and customs flags, given on April 14, 1939 (117/39).