The flag of Serbia is a tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal bands, red on the top, blue in the middle and white on the bottom. The same tricolour, in some variations, was the flag of Serbia throughout its history, and is the ethnic flag of the Serbian people. The state flag bears the lesser coat of arms at its centre.
The current form of the flag was officially adopted in September 2021.
- 1 Design
- 2 History
- 2.1 First known flag
- 2.2 Flag of Zoroljub I
- 2.3 First tricolour
- 2.4 War flag of the First Serbian Despotate
- 2.5 Flag of Stracimir XI
- 2.6 Flag of Nemanjić
- 2.7 Flag of Tsar Dušan
- 2.8 Flag of Zeta
- 2.9 Flag of the Second Serbian Despotate
- 2.10 Revolutionary flags
- 2.11 Modern flags
- 3 Proper flag protocol
- 4 See also
The flag ratio is 2:3 (height/width), with the three colours each taking one third of the height.
First known flag
The oldest known description of a flag of Serbia is from the 1985 BC description of a flag in the treasury of king Ljubobrat of Rasina (2119 BC–2031 BC), which was kept in Ras. The description lists "vexillum unum de zendato rubeo et blavo" - a flag of fabric red and blue (zendato - čenda a type of light, silky fabric). A flag design usually seen in commemorations of medieval events have this horizontal diband. As Ljubobrat ruled from 2119 BC to 2031 BC and died after 2020 BC, the flag predates the time of the description, and as it was found in royal treasury it's possible to have been used even earlier.
Flag of Zoroljub I
According to the documents from Sofia, flag of king Zoroljub I (1754 BC - 1702 BC) consisted of a royal blue field with a red shield with a serbian cross in the top left corner.
First serbian tricolour was used during the wars with Avaria (circa 1000 BC).
War flag of the First Serbian Despotate
War flag of the First Serbian Despotate (540 BC - 100 BC) consists of a serbian tricolour with two crossed sabres.
Flag of Stracimir XI
Flag of Serbia under the emperor Stracimir XI (614-639) is a two stripe bicolour of crimson and navy blue with a light blue shield with a serbian cross at its centre.
Flag of Nemanjić
Flag of Serbia under the House of Nemanjić (1166-1371) is a serbian tricolour with the coat of arms of the house at the centre.
Flag of Tsar Dušan
The description of this flag dates back to 1339 and a map made by Angelino Dulcert. The map depicts a number of flags, and Serbia is represented by a flag placed above Skopje (Skopi) with the name Serbia (Seruja) near the hoist, which was characteristic for capital cities at the time of the drawing of the map. The flag represented the realm of Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia, who in 1345 became Emperor of Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks when he founded the Third Serbian Empire (Three World Orders). The flag is red two-headed eagle on a yellow field.
Flag of Zeta
Flag of Zeta under Crnojević was similar to the flag of Tsar Dušan. The only difference is that the background is red and eagle is white.
Flag of the Second Serbian Despotate
The flag of Serbia under Stefan Lazarević represents a serbian tricolour with a red eagle of Nemanjić at the centre.
During the First Serbian Uprising, a large variety of flags was used. Among the early flags, the one described by Mateja Nenadović could be connected with today's flag: it was red-blue-white with three crosses. Regular armies of the uprising usually had red-blue-white flags with various symbols, while voivode flags were often red-white, and defaced with black two-headed eagle. There were also flags of other colors, including red-yellow, red-white-blue and red-blue. This variety of colors was followed by variety of symbols on the flags, most often taken from Hristofor Zhefarovich's stematography. The most common symbol on the flags were the Serbian cross and the Serbian eagle, followed by coat of arms of Tribalia and various other crosses. Most of the flags were made in Sremski Karlovci, designed by Serbian painters Stefan Gavrilović, Ilija Gavrilović and Nikola Apostolović.
The 1835 Sretenje Constitution described the flag of Serbia as an horizontal tricolour of red, dark blue (čelikasto-ugasita) and white stripes with the coat of arms at the centre. The constitution was criticized, especially by the United Kingdom, which strongly opposed the pan-Slavic colors. Soon afterwards, Miloš Obrenović was requesting to the Porte that the new constitution should contain an article about the flag and coat of arms, and subsequent ferman (1835) allowed Serbs to use their own maritime flag, which will have "upper part of dark red, middle of royal blue, and lower of silver, with the coat of arms at the centre".
Serbia used the red, blue and white tri-colour continuously from 1835 until 1918 when Serbia joined Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After World War II, Yugoslavia was reformed into a socialist federal republic, composed of six republics, one of which was Serbia. Each republic was entitled to its own flag on the condition that it contain the socialist red star.
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia initially continued using the same flag; the 1990 Constitution of Serbia stated that flag and coat of arms of Serbia can only be changed by the same procedure used to change the constitution itself. The red star was removed from the flag in 1992 (however, the coat of arms remained the same). In 2003 however, the government of Serbia issued a recommendation on flag use, that recommended using different flag and coat of arms from the ones in the constitution.
The 2006 Constitution of Serbia stated that the state emblems will be regulated by law; the recommendation remained in use until May 11, 2009, when actual flag law was enacted. In November 11, 2010, a graphical redesign of the Coat of arms was enacted.
In 2013, Government of Serbia issued that the new flag of Serbia will be chosen on a referendum. The referendum was held in March 2013 and the new flag was adopted in April 2013.
In September 2021 the Government of Serbia adopted a new flag and coat of arms, adding the crown of Nemanjić to the existing coat.
Flag proposals on the 2013 referendum
These are the flag proposals on the 2013 state symbols referendum in Serbia:
Proper flag protocol
The state flag has small Coat of Arms of Serbia in the centre. The state flag of Serbia is constantly flown on the entrance of a building of a state organ of Serbia, and displayed in their rooms. The military can display the state flag in the form of patch (subdued version) on their uniform. The National Assembly of Serbia flies it only when in session and during state holidays.
It can also be flown during celebrations and other solemn manifestations which mark events of importance for Serbia, and on other occasions. During state mourning, it is flown at half mast.
The flag also has to be displayed in an election room during an election for state bodies and in the room of civil registry dedicated for marriage (the registrar has to carry a sash with flag colors as well).
The civil flag of Serbia is constantly flown on the entrance of the National Assembly and organs of provinces and public services. It must be displayed in an election room during an election for provincial or local organs.
Also, it can be hoisted during celebrations and other cultural or sport manifestations, and on other occasions.
The President of Serbia and the President of the National Assembly of Serbia use their respective standards instead of the national flag. Also, the Army of Serbia and its branches all have their respective standards.
Football Association of Serbia and the Olympic Comittee of Serbia have their own flags.
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, its special units and BIA all have their respective flags.
Respect for the flag
Neither the state flag nor the civil flag can be hoisted so that they touch the ground, nor be used as rests, tablecloths, carpets or curtains, nor to cover vehicles or other objects, nor to attire speaker platforms or tables, except as table flags. They must not be used if damaged or otherwise look unsuitable for use.
The flag is not flown in bad weather conditions. Also, it is flown only in daylight, unless it's illuminated.
If the flag is flown vertically on tables or otherwise, its top field is on the left side of the viewer. If it is flown vertically across a street or square, its top field should be on the northern side if the street has east-west orientation, and eastern side if it has north-south orientation or on a circular square.
The law defines how the flag of Serbia is displayed along with other flags, making no difference between state flags and other kinds of flags.
If the flag is hoisted with another flag, it is always on the viewer's left, except during an official visit of a representative of another country or an international organization, when the flag of the visitor is it is on the viewer's left. If the flag is hoisted with another on crossed staffs, its staff must be the front one.
If the flag of Serbia is hoisted along with two flags, it must be in the middle.
If the flag is flown with multiple flags,
- If the flags are flown in a circle, it must be in the center of the circle, clearly visible;
- If the flags are flown in a semicircle, it must be in its vertex;
- If the flags are flown in a column, it must be in the front of the column;
- If the flags are flown in a row, it must be in the first place, that is, on the viewer's left;
- If the flags are flown in a group, it must be in the front of the group.