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Department of Homeland Security (U.S.)

Last modified: 2021-06-26 by rick wyatt
Keywords: departmental | homeland security | united states |
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[Department of Homeland Security flag] image by Joe McMillan, 3 January 2004

See also:

A flag was observed at a press conference in October of 2001. It was a dark blue flag with a standard U.S. coat of arms design in the center on a gold disc. Upon the disc was the inscription: "Office of Homeland Security United States of America". This was the standard pattern for organizations within the Executive Office of the President. Except for the inscription, it's the same as the flag used by the Office of Management and Budget, another part of the EOP.
David Fowler, Miles Li, Joe McMillan

Description of the Flag

The long-awaited flag of the new Department of Homeland Security seems to have been unveiled without fanfare at some point in the last few months. No surprises. Photos from the US Coast Guard photo archive (reachable from show Secretary Tom Ridge us_dhs1.jpg and a Coast Guard admiral us_dhs2.jpg with what is obviously the departmental flag--a medium-to-dark blue field (lighter than on the USCG color or the S&S) with the departmental seal on the center. There is apparently a DHS Management Directive 0040 that has been issued on the use of the flag and other departmental symbols--a Google search turns up the Coast Guard message implementing it--but I can't find the text of the directive itself.
Joe McMillan, 3 October 2003

The exact shade of blue used on the official flag of the United States Department of Homeland Security is Pantone #2955C.
D.M.S., 5 August 2013

Departmental Seal


Fact Sheet: Department of Homeland Security Seal

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 19, 2003

Today Secretary Ridge unveiled the new Department of Homeland Security seal while speaking to 200 employees in Selfridge, Michigan. The seal is symbolic of the Department's mission - to prevent attacks and protect Americans - on the land, in the sea and in the air.

Seal Description:

In the center of the seal, a graphically styled white American eagle appears in a circular blue field. The eagle's outstretched wings break through an inner red ring into an outer white ring that contains the words "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF" in the top half and "HOMELAND SECURITY" in the bottom half in a circular placement. The eagle's wings break through the inner circle into the outer ring to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security will break through traditional bureaucracy and perform government functions differently. In the tradition of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle's talon on the left holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 seeds while the eagle's talon on the right grasps 13 arrows.

Centered on the eagle's breast is a shield divided into three sections containing elements that represent the American homeland - air, land, and sea. The top element, a dark blue sky, contains 22 stars representing the original 22 entities that have come together to form the department. The left shield element contains white mountains behind a green plain underneath a light blue sky. The right shield element contains four wave shapes representing the oceans alternating light and dark blue separated by white lines.


The seal was developed with input from DHS senior leadership, employees, and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts. The Ad Council, which currently partners with DHS on its Ready campaign, and the consulting company Landor Associates were responsible for graphic design and maintaining heraldic integrity.

Going Forward:

All 180,000 DHS employees will soon receive a DHS lapel pin and a personalized DHS certificate. The personalized certificate signifies that the employee was part of the Department of Homeland Security at its inception. The seal will ultimately be used on department materials, signage, credentials, badges, vehicles, sea vessels and aircraft. Media wishing to obtain a high resolution version of the new Department of Homeland Security seal can do so below.
submitted by David C. Fowler, 20 June 2003

Organization Changes

The big news from Washington yesterday was President Bush's signing of the Homeland Security Act, which is being billed as the biggest shake-up of federal government organization in the U.S. since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. This has some interesting flag implications:

Virtually certain: a new departmental flag and personal flags for the secretary, deputy secretary, under secretaries (of whom there are to be five), and assistant secretaries (not more than 12) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Possibly also distinctive flags for the general counsel (chief lawyer) and inspector general. Because the new department will own ships (Coast Guard), these flags will be flown at sea during VIP visits. The commissioner of customs (whose agency is being transferred) is accorded equivalent rank to these officials in DHS, but AFAIK has never before had a personal flag.

The Secret Service and Customs Service are transferred from the Department of the Treasury. The Customs Service flag is the well-known, 203-year-old "revenue ensign," and there's no reason to suppose it will change. I think the Secret Service has a blue LOB that will probably stay the same as well.

The Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration are transferred from the Department of Transportation. There will be no reason to change any of the Coast Guard's flags. I don't know whether TSA has even had a flag approved yet -- it was only created since 9-11-01.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service disappears; most of its functions move to a new Bureau of Border Security and a new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the new department. That means new or modified flags. My guess is that the BBS would inherit the present Border Patrol flag and pennant, possibly with a new emblem on the center. The BCIS could inherit the present INS flag and pennant with the DHS seal replacing that of the Justice Department and the initials U.S.I. & N.S. being changed to reflect the new name.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency loses its independent status and becomes part of the new department. Possibly no change in its LOB.

The Federal Protective Service moves from the General Services Administration. This is the civil service guard force that provides security for federal buildings belonging to departments that don't have their own security capabilities. I think the FPS probably already has a LOB, although I've never seen it.

Several other agencies and functions also migrate, but I don't know that they have flags at present. They may get them in the future. Also, it may be possible that the new department will merge functions of some of these pre-existing agencies into new formations within DHS; only time will tell.

Most of the migrations are to supposed to occur before 1 March 2003.

Joe McMillan, 26 November 2002

Secretary of Homeland Security

[Secretary of Homeland Security flag] image by Joe McMillan, 13 February 2015

There is an official positional flag for the Secretary of Homeland Security: The flag has a medium blue field, white fringe, a simplified DHS logo in the center, consisting of only the seal's center badge, and (apparently) four 5-pointed white stars in each corner.
Dave Fowler, 4 September 2014

Here are FOTW standard images of the flags of the US Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. I have drawn them in the proportions (approximately 7:10) used for display aboard Coast Guard cutters. The Secretary of Homeland Security bears the same relationship to the Coast Guard as the Secretary of the Navy does to the US Navy and Marine Corps, so the flags of DHS officials are displayed by the USCG the same way those of Department of Defense officials are by the Navy. As shown in the photos posted by Dave Fowler, these flags also exist in an indoor/ceremonial form, in which they are trimmed with fringe matching the color of the stars and blue and white cord and tassels. The dimensions appear to be the same 52 x 66 inches (132 x 168 cm) used for the flags of senior officials of other departments.
Joe McMillan, 24 January 2015

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security

[Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security flag] image by Joe McMillan, 13 February 2015

In this photograph, the flags of both the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security are visible:
Dave Fowler, 11 January 2015

Yesterday while I was at the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, I was able to photograph the official drawings of these flags and have redrawn them with the wings corrected. In fact, on these two flags if not the departmental flag, the wings are symmetrical.
Joe McMillan, 13 February 2015

Order of Precedence

The order of precedence of flags is a little disjointed at DHS, there is a flag display at DHS headquarters (see photo), but it appears to not be a complete catalog of agency flags.

These are:
1) United States
2) Department of Homeland Security
3) US Coast Guard
4) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection - US Border Patrol
5) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection - Office of Field Operations
6) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection - Office of Air and Marine
7) US Secret Service
8) US Transportation Security Administration
9) Federal Protective Service

Missing: There are flags for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services that are absent for some reason.

The Federal Protective Service flag appears to be the previous version that we have on FOTW, but with a thin white border around the patch.

In the attached color guard photos, the ICE flag appears before the customs ensign and the Border Patrol flag, so we can probably surmise that in a complete flag display that it would come after the Coast Guard, and before the CBP unit flags.

There is a CIS logo flag in existence, but I have never seen it in a joint flag display.

Dave Fowler, 10 April 2021