The vexillological or FIAV symbols are used in flag science ( vexillology ) for the standardized classification of flags . The system was developed by Whitney Smith and introduced by the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques (FIAV) in the early 1970s.
The use of a flag is illustrated with a grid symbol ( ). The first line stands for use on land, the second for use at sea. The lines are divided into three columns: civil, official and military. If three criteria are given in one line, one speaks of a national flag . The latter does not mean, however, that other combinations of use than national flags do not apply, especially since many country flags do not have the combination of “three criteria in a row”.
|On land||Civic flag||Service flag||War flag|
|To the sea||Trade flag||Service flag||War flag|
Of the theoretically 63 possible grid symbols, the following examples can be found more frequently:
|Civic flag||National flag on land|
|Service flag on land||National flag of the sea|
|War flag ashore||Service flag on land, war flag on land and at sea|
|Trade flag||Service flag on land, trade and war flag at sea|
|Service flag at sea||Civil and service flags on land, commercial and service flags at sea|
|Naval war flag||Service and war flags on land and at sea|
|Civil flag and official flag on land||National flag on land and commercial flag at sea|
|Service and war flags on land||National flag on land and service flag at sea|
|Commercial and service flag at sea||National flag on land, trade and service flag at sea|
|Civic flag and commercial flag||National flag at sea, service and war flag on land|
|Service flag on land and at sea||National flag at sea, civic flag and official flag on land|
|War flag on land and at sea||National flag on land and at sea|
The FIAV has introduced a set of symbols to make it easier to represent the characteristics and rules of conduct (by whom and on what occasion which flag is or may be shown and how it is then to be hoisted) of flags: the International Flag Identification Symbols (IFIS).
The characteristics of a flag are expressed by the following symbols:
|Normal or de jure version of a flag|
|Flag was proposed but never officially adopted|
|-Reconstruction only based on written sources|
|Back of a flag|
|Variation of a flag based on the same basic pattern|
|Alternative, equivalent second flag|
|De facto version of a flag|
|Flag is two-sided and looks different on the back|
|Flag display is designed so that the leech is on the right|
|Historical flag a|
The properties can be supplemented by further symbols:
Note for Wikipedia readers: A raised question mark in Wikipedia behind a vexillological symbol ? is not part of the vexillological symbol itself, but only serves as a link to this explanatory article, since the vexillological symbols link the respective image file and not the present article.