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North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Last modified: 2024-03-02 by zachary harden
Keywords: nato | otan | compass | international organization | isaf | shape | act |
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[Flag of NATO] by Željko Heimer

Dark blue flag with a white emblem. The emblem consists of a compass rose (and lines reaching out from it). Dimensions: 2:3, 3:4 and 1:2.
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

See also:

The flag

The NATO flag is 3:4, as described at the Nato Website.
I quote a portion of the above referenced web site:

The Official NATO-color code is Pantone Color Guide No 280
Dimensions (1959)
Length: 400
Width: 300
Star: 150
Diameter of circle 115
Space between points of star
and start of white lines
Space between outer edge of flag
and extremity of white lines
Lee Thompson, 29 Sep 1998

A short note on this subject appeared in Recueil de l'Office Généalogique et Héraldique de Belgique III, Editions Tradition et Vie, Brussels, MCMLIV (1954), 120 p. plus card. A note on p. 72 'Le drapeau et l'emblème de l'OTAN' (The flag and the emblem of NATO) written by A. de Selliers de Moranville said the card shows the NATO flag. According to this note, the shade of blue corresponds to French norm Pr X.08-002 (AFNOR) and to No. 218 of the British Colour Council. Nowadays NATO officially mentions Pantone 280.
Jan Mertens, 5 December 2003

According to "NATO’s Visual Identity Guidelines, VIGs, © NATO 2016 (" (, their "implementation remains valid under the original authority of then Secretary General Lord Robertson, under whose leadership (1999-2003) NATO’s VIGs were originally launched.
Sources: and

The NATO logo has two components (
1. The Compass:
- For use on the Internet, the Compass will be produced with RGB colours (dark blue 0/73/144, light blue 17/138/203), websafe colours (dark blue 003366, light blue 6699CC) or using the HTML colours (dark blue 004990, light blue 118ACB).
- When the Compass is used on a screen or in projection, the accurate colours of the Compass are converted to RGB colours. The RGB colour system describes colours in shades of red, green and blue (RGB) light, the basic colours used for projection.
- PMS 280 for the dark blue and PMS 2718 for the light blue are used. As an alternative and in order to provide a cost-effective colour solution, the second PMS colour PMS 2718 can be replaced by 65% of PMS 280.
1. The NATO logo,
1.2.2 Using the Compass on the Internet,
1.2.3 Using the Compass for screens and projections
1.2.4 Using the Compass in PMS (Pantone Matching System)"

2. The name box NATO / OTAN: The acronym NATO / OTAN is featured in the standard configuration of English and French and it is always in capitals. They cannot be replaced by other language versions of the name NATO. In CMYK is 100% Cyan -100% Black. Hence, the standard NATO logo ( is the Compass and NATO/OTAN name box. For the NATO logo, the critical limit for high-class printing is a size of 15 mm x 15 mm for the Compass. For newsprint the critical size becomes 20 mm x 20 mm. For online use the minimum size of the logo is 160 by 80 pixels. The NATO flag can be used for illustrative purposes"
1.3 The name box NATO / OTAN
1.4 The standard NATO logo
1.5.1 The logo size
1.5.6 Protection of logo integrity
Esteban Rivera, 1 August 2018

Significance of different dimensions

[Flag of NATO, 2:3] by Željko Heimer

[Flag of NATO, 1:2] by Željko Heimer

According to Pavillons nationaux et marques distinctives, it is also used in proportion 2:3 and 1:2.

NATO Flag Protocol

I received the follwoing query; is he correct or does the NATO flag get priority if it is a NATO base? At a US Army post in Kosovo, when displaying the flags. I know the US flag is first, followed by the countries (in alphabetical order) that help support the mission. But is the NATO flag displayed last on the left side?
Albert Kirsch, 24 May 2010

I would expect that basically a NATO presence would be the guest of the country, and would therefore have to follow local protocol. this would meet with two obstacles, though:
-This would require keeping track of the protocols of all nations NATO might send troops to.
-What country the troops are in would probably the very reason for their presence.
This would suggest that NATO might have their own protocol, to be followed everywhere. Ideally, all participating countries would be present under the flag of NATO, thus requiring only that flag. Unfortunately, I get the impression the multi-national status of NATO is far from ideal. The next best thing would be to fly the flag of the troops actually manning the post, especially if their national laws are in effect in their presence to some extent, and then fly the NATO and mission flags.
Call me pessimistic, but I expect that no member country of a mission will be satisfied by being represented by the mission flag, an all will want their participation shown explicitly at every post. Instead of the implicit flag of the mission, you'd then get the flags of the additional mission members ranked below the NATO flag, in common order; they are, after all, not present at that location.
Call me pessimistic, but I expect that if one country can rank its flag above the NATO flag at an army post, then someone will be able to construe a dishonour to the other flags from that and insist that all flags are ranked above NATO, even though that's their actual reason for being there. I'd go for Country at post, NATO Mission, but I expect the actual order is indeed more likely to be Country at post, Other mission participants, NATO (Mission).
That would indeed rank the NATO flag lowest. Lowest rank would probably be left, as, if the order wouldn't be right to left, it would have to depend on the protocol of the countries involved, which might allow varying readings.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 May 2010

Aircraft Marking

[NATO Aircraft Marking] by Željko Heimer 

The emblem, blue with the circle voided and the "voided" parts of the compass points made in white. In regard to the flag, the emblem is mirrored around a vertical axis. (This may depend of the side of the airplane? is there a front part of the emblem? I suppose the emblem is not obviously directed enough, so probably it is of no significance.)
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

International Military Staff

[International Military Staff] by Sean McKinniss

The good people at NATO sent me an image of the badge of the International Military Staff. I have converted it and cleaned it up here. The flag is primarily used at ceremonial occasions or during conferences and meetings.
Sean McKinniss, 22 April 2003

The International Military Staff (IMS) is the executive agency of the Military Committee. It provides staff support to the Military Committee and is responsible for the preparation of assessments, studies and other papers on NATO military matters. The IMS also ensures that decisions and policies on military matters are implemented by the appropriate NATO military bodies. The IMS provides the essential link between the political decision-making bodies of the Alliance and the NATO Strategic Military Commanders and their staffs.
Image of flag (in front of Director of IMS):
Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

EU NAVFOR (EU Forces that operate against the Somali pirates)

[EU NAVFOR  EU Forces that operate against the Somali pirates] image located by Valentin Poposki, 26 August 2009