Flag of Mexico

The flag of Mexico (Spanish: Bandera de México) is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country's War of Independence, and subsequent First Mexican Empire. The form of the coat of arms was most recently revised in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821, when the First National Flag was created.

UseNational flag and ensign
AdoptedSeptember 16, 1968
DesignA vertical tricolor of green, white and red with the National Coat of Arms centered on the white band.
Variant flag of Mexico
UseNaval Jack

Red, white, and green are the colors of the national army in Mexico. The central emblem is the Mexican coat of arms, based on the Aztec symbol for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the center of the Aztec empire. It recalls the legend of an eagle sitting on a cactus while devouring a serpent that signaled to the Aztecs where to found their city, Tenochtitlan.[1] A ribbon in the national colors is at the bottom of the coat of arms. Throughout history, the flag has changed several times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified. However, the coat of arms has had the same features throughout: an eagle, holding a serpent in its talon, is perched on top of a prickly pear cactus; the cactus is situated on a rock that rises above a lake. The coat of arms is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a nopal eating a serpent, which is now Mexico City.

The current law of national symbols, Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984. The current national flag is also used as the Mexican naval ensign by ships registered in Mexico.


Before the adoption of the first national flag, various flags were used during the War of Independence from Spain. Though it was never adopted as an official flag, many historians consider the first Mexican flag to be the Standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was carried by Miguel Hidalgo after the Grito de Dolores on September 16, 1810.[2] The Standard became the initial symbol of the rebel army during the Mexican War of Independence. Various other Standards were used during the war. José María Morelos used a flag with an image of the Virgin to which was added a blue and white insignia with a crowned eagle on a cactus over a three-arched bridge and the letters V.V.M. (Viva la Virgen María – "long live the Virgin Mary").[2] The Revolutionary Army also used a flag featuring the colors white, blue and red in vertical stripes. The first use of the modern colors—green, white and red—was in the flag of the unified Army of the Three Guarantees (pictured above) after independence from Spain was won.[3]

While similar to the national flag that is used today, the eagle in these arms is not holding a serpent in his talons and a crown has been affixed to the head of the eagle to signify the Empire. Variants of this flag that appeared in this period also included a naval flag that had the tricolor pattern, but only contained the eagle with the crown above its head. The military also used a similar square flag, but the eagle was larger than on the national flag. The national flag was officially decreed by Agustín de Iturbide in November 1821 and first officially used in July 1822. This flag was no longer used upon the abolishment of the empire.[4]

The first national flag was established in 1821, the first year of Mexican recognized sovereignty. The imperial government that was set up chose a tricolor flag of green, white and red and charged with the national coat of arms. The official decree stated that

Sole article:... the national flag and flags of the army shall be tricolor, adopting forever the colors green, white and "encarnado" [flesh-colored red] arranged vertically, with the crowned eagle in the center of the white stripe, according to the following design[5]

The second national flag was adopted after the establishment of the first federal republic in 1823. The new flag was chosen for the republic in April of that year, the only differences being the appearance of the central emblem. The crown was removed from the eagle's head and a serpent was placed in the eagle's right talon. Another addition to the flag is a branch of oak and laurel branches, a tradition that was carried over to the current flag. This flag was discontinued in 1864 upon the dissolution of the first federal republic.[6]

The third national flag was that of the Second Mexican Empire. Once again, the national flag used the green, white and red tricolor pattern with the white stripe being charged with the national arms. However, the ratio of the flag was changed from 4:7 to 1:2 and four eagles, which had crowns above their heads, were placed at each corner of the flag. The design, which was ordered by the Emperor Maximilian, gave the arms a look similar to the French Imperial arms, but he decided to add a bit of "Mexican flavor" to the flag. The coat of arms was described in a decree issued in November 1865 as:

oval in shape in blue; in the center is depicted the eagle of Anahuac, in profile and passant, supported by a cactus, supported, in turn, by a rock sunk on water, and ripping a snake. The border is gold charged by a garland of encino and laurel. The crest is the Imperial Crown. As supporters, two griffins from our elders' arms, their upper half in black and the lower in gold; behind the scepter and sword in saltire. The shield is surrounded by the collar of the Order of the Águila Mexicana, and the motto: "Equidad en la Justicia" [Equity in Justice][7]

The current national flag was adopted on September 16, 1968, and was confirmed by law on February 24, 1984. The current version is an adaptation of the design approved by presidential decree in 1916 by Venustiano Carranza, where the eagle was changed from a front-facing to a side-facing position.[3] Before the adoption of the current national flag, official flags have been used by the government. All of these flags used the tricolor pattern, with the only differences being the changes in the coat of arms, which was still charged in the center of the white stripe. One possible reason for the 1968 flag and arms change was that Mexico City was the host of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games.[8] Around this same time period, the plain tricolor flag that Mexico used as its merchant ensign was also legally abandoned. The reasoning is that without the coat of arms, the flag would not be the Mexican flag; it would become nearly identical to the Italian flag.[9]

There was also debate in 1984 about how the coat of arms would be depicted on the reverse of the flag. To solve this problem, a PAN deputy proposed a change to the Law of the National Arms, Flag and Anthem that same year to allow for the eagle to face to the right when the reverse of the flag is displayed.[10] In 1995, the law was changed to include the following:

When the National Arms is reproduced in the reverse side of the National Flag, the Mexican Eagle will appear standing in its right grasp, holding with the left one and the beak the curved serpent.[11]

Design and symbolism

The official design of the Mexican flag can be found in Article 3 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, passed in 1984. While the exact shades of the flag have not been defined by law, in 2001 it was reported, through a personal communication, to Flags of the World that the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación) has suggested the following tones in the Pantone system;[12] nevertheless, the ministry has not officially ruled on the matter. So far, there are not official printed documents nor statements on the color shades. The Pantone colors listed below were employed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited in its "Flag Manual".[13] while 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Flag Manual proposed others.[14]

Colour scheme Green White Red
Pantone[15] 3425c Safe 186c
RGB[16] 0-104-71 255-255-255 206-17-38
CMYK[17] 100-34-93-30 0-0-0-0 0-92-82-19
Web colors[18] 006847 FFFFFF CE1126

The article dictates what must be featured on the flag and also its proportions. Copies of the national flag which are made according to this law are kept in two locations: the General National Archive (Archivo General de la Nación) and the National Museum of History (Museo Nacional de Historia).

Differences with Italian flag

Although the Mexican tricolour (green, white, red) has been continuously used for a longer time than the Italian one, at the time of the Mexican flag's adoption, the similarly toned Italian tricolour had already been used briefly in Europe,[19] for example by the Cisalpine Republic in 1797, but it had different proportions from the modern Italian flag.

Both flags use the same colors (green, white and red), but the Mexican flag has darker shades of green and red (particularly the green). These flags present a different aspect ratio (proportions): the Italian flag aspect ratio is 2:3 (1 to 1.5), more squarish in shape, while the Mexican flag aspect ratio is 4:7 (1 to 1.75), resulting in a longer shape.


When the flag is paraded in front of a crowd, those in military uniform must present a salute according to military regulations. Civilians who are present give the following salute to the national flag: standing at attention (firmes), they raise their right arms and place their right hands on their chests, in front of the heart. The hand is flat and the palm of the hand is facing the ground. This salute is known as the El saludo civil a la Bandera Nacional ("The Civil Salute to the National Flag"). When the President is acting in the capacity of the Head of the Armed Forces, he salutes the national flag with a military salute. When the national anthem is played on television to open or close daily programming, the national flag will be shown at the same time.[20] During certain times of the year, the flag is flown by both civilians and government personnel. Mostly, these events coincide with national holidays and days of significance to the country. During some of these occasions, the flag will be flown at half-mast to honor the death of important Mexicans. These dates are listed in Article 18 of the Law of the National Flag, Arms and Anthem. The national Día de la Bandera (Flag Day) celebration occurs on February 24. On this day in 1821, all the factions fighting in the War of Independence joined together to form the Army of the Three Guarantees in response to the Plan de Iguala, which was signed by Vicente Guerrero and Agustín de Iturbide, declaring Mexico officially an independent country. General Vicente Guerrero was the first military official who swore allegiance to the national flag.[3] Another flag tradition is that before every Olympics in which Mexico is a participant, the President hands a flag over to the flag bearer, chosen by their peers, to carry with them to the host city.[21]

Civil ceremonies

The flag songs are dedicated to the flag day, it is a national holiday in Mexico. Flag Day is celebrated every year on February 24 since its implementation in 1937. The songs were established by President of Mexico General Lázaro Cárdenas before the monument to General Vicente Guerrero, first to pledge allegiance to the Mexican flag and Agustin de Iturbide:

The Juramento a la Bandera

¡Bandera de México!
Legado de nuestros héroes,
símbolo de la unidad
de nuestros padres y nuestros hermanos.
Te prometemos ser siempre fieles
a los principios de libertad y de justicia
que hacen de nuestra patria la nación independiente, humana y generosa
a la que entregamos nuestra existencia.

Translation: The Oath to the Flag

Flag of Mexico!
Legacy of our heroes,
symbol of the unity
of our parents and our siblings.
We promise to always be loyal
to the principles of liberty and justice
that make our homeland
the independent nation, humane and generous
to which we give our existence.

The Toque de Bandera

Se levanta en el mástil mi bandera
como un sol entre céfiros y trinos
muy adentro en el templo de mi veneración,
oigo y siento contento latir mi corazón
Es mi bandera, la enseña nacional,
son estas notas su cántico marcial.
Desde niños sabremos venerarla
Y también por su amor, ¡vivir!
Almo y sacro pendón que en nuestro anhelo
como rayo de luz se eleva al cielo
inundando a través de su lienzo tricolor
inmortal nuestro ser de fervor y patrio ardor.
Es mi bandera, la enseña nacional,
son estas notas su cántico marcial.
Desde niños sabremos venerarla
Y también por su honor, ¡morir!

Translation: The Salute to the Flag

My flag rises in the mast
like a sun between winds and warbles
very inside in the temple of my veneration,
I hear and feel happily my heart beating
It's my flag, the national standard,
These notes are its martial canticle.
From childhood we'll know how to venerate it
and also for its love, to live!
Venerable and sacred banner of our yearning
like a ray of light rises to the sky
flooding through its three-colored canvas
our immortal being of fervour and homeland ardour.
It's my flag, the national standard,
these notes are its martial canticle.
From childhood we'll know how to venerate it
and also for its honor, to die!

Pledge of Fidelity

The following pledge of fidelity is taken every February 22 and any day whenever new flags are given to institutions in accordance with the form established by Article 3 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem:[22]

Ciudadanos: Vengo en nombre de México, a encomendar a vuestro patriotismo, esta bandera que simboliza su independencia, su honor, sus instituciones y la integridad de su territorio. ¿Protestáis honrarla y defenderla con lealtad, patriotismo y constancia?
Response: ¡Sí, protesto!
Challenge: Al concederos el honor de ponerla en vuestras manos, la Patria confía en que, como buenos y leales mexicanos, sabréis cumplir vuestra/su protesta.
Dear citizens: This National Flag is given to you with deep patriotism in the name of the Mexican nation, symbolizing its independence, honor, its institutions and its territorial integrity. With loyalty, patriotism and constancy, do you all pledge thus to honor and defend it?
Response: Yes, we pledge!
Challenge: As you all receive this flag in your hands, remember that our Fatherland is confident in all of you, good and loyal Mexicans, as you all fulfill this very pledge that was given today.


Mexico (variants)
AdoptedDe facto
Variant flag of Mexico (variants)
Variant flag of Mexico (variants)

There are two variants of the national flag that are mostly used by the state and federal governments, the difference between the national flag and the variants are the designs of the coat of arms. In the first variant, which is used by the President of Mexico and secretaries of federal bodies, the entire coat of arms is coloured gold, with the exception of the tricolour ribbon, which is green, white and red, and with the stone, lake and talons of the eagle coloured in silver. In the second variant, the entire coat of arms is coloured gold, even the ribbon, lake, stone and talons. The second variant is used mostly by State governments and federal bodies who are not able to use the first variant.[23]

Law articles

  • In Article 3 of the Law on the National Arms, Flag and Anthem (Ley sobre el Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) also describes that the national flag can be decorated with a special tie called a corbata (cravat). The corbata is composed of a bow, two ribbons of different length and both ribbons are attached with a golden tassel called fringe. The corbata is placed on the top of the flag at the point where the truck is, and the colours of the corbata match that of the national flag. Organizations and political parties can adopt their own corbatas, such as the National Action Party (PAN), which uses a white corbata with blue fringes.[24]
  • In Article 3 of the Flag Law does not give an official symbolism to the colors, other meanings may be given to them. Other groups have used the national colors as part of their own logos or symbols. For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) political party has adopted the national colors as part of their logo. Another political party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), also had the national colors as part of their logo, but changed them in the 1990s after a controversy surrounding impartiality issues, while the PRI did not.[25] Several states, such as Querétaro and Hidalgo have incorporated either elements of the national flag, or even the entire flag, into their coat of arms.

Regulations for use

The image of the flag is protected under law. A special permit is needed to broadcast its image. In February 2010, MTV Mexico controversially canceled a much-publicized broadcast of an episode of South Park, called "Pinewood Derby", featuring the flag, because it claimed that the permit had not been issued.[26]

In 2008, Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio was fined for posing nude wrapped in the flag in a photo shoot for a Spanish magazine. [27]


Non-Independent Mexico
Northern America – New Spain – Mexican America
América Septentrional – Nueva España – América Mexicana
 Adopted date
Related organization
 Promulgated  Flag  Description
April 17, 1535
April 17, 1535 – November 25, 1550
Antonio de Mendoza
Viceroy April 29, 1783 – November 3, 1784
Matías de Gálvez y Gallardo
Viceroy of New Spain
Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid
Viceroy July 21, 1821 – September 28, 1821
Juan O'Donojú y O'Rian
Viceroy of New Spain
Independent Mexico
Mexican Nation – Mexican Empire – Mexican Republic – United Mexican States
Nación Mexicana – Imperio Mexicano – República Mexicana – Estados Unidos Mexicanos
 Adopted date
Related organization
 Promulgated  Flag  Description
February 24, 1821
Sovereign Provisional Junta
Agustín de Iturbide
Vicente Ramón Guerrero
Flag of the Three Guarantees
Designed by
José Magdaleno Ocampo
August 24, 1821
Sovereign Provisional Junta
Agustín de Iturbide
Regency's President
Flag of the Iturbide's Regency
Designed by
Agustin de Iturbide
November 2, 1821
Constitutional Congress
Agustín Iturbide I of Mexico
José Manuel de Herrera
First Minister
Flag of the First Mexican Empire
Designed by
Agustin de Iturbide
  •      Independence
  •      Religion
  •      Union
April 14, 1823
Constitutional Congress
October 10, 1824 – April 1, 1829
Guadalupe Victoria

January 21, 1858 – December 28, 1862
Félix María Zuloaga
Flag of the Mexican Republic
Designed by
Constitutional Congress
Government Executive
October 10, 1824 – May 15, 1867
Reform War
January 21, 1858 – December 28, 1862
Regency of the Second Mexican Empire
July 11, 1863 – November 18, 1863
July 15, 1864
Constitutional Congress
Maximilian I of Mexico
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte
First Minister
Flag of the Second Mexican Empire
Designed by
Ferdinand Maximilian
  •      Hope
  •      Purity
  •      Religion
June 19, 1867
Government Executive
Benito Pablo Juárez García
Flag of the Mexican Republic
Designed by
Constitutional Congress
April 1, 1893
Government Executive
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz
Flag of the Mexican Republic
Designed by
Tomas de la Peña
September 20, 1916
Government Executive
Venustiano Carranza Garza
Flag of the United Mexican States
Designed by
Antonio Gómez
February 5, 1934
Government Executive
Abelardo Rodríguez Luján
Flag of the United Mexican States
Designed by
Jorge Enciso
September 16, 1968
Government Executive
Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
Flag of the United Mexican States
Designed by
Francisco Eppens Helguera
  •      Hope
  •      Union
  •      Blood of Heroes


Other flags were flown as Mexican flags, either designed to intimidate the enemy or to act as identification. These flags were considered without subsequent formal documentation as national flag and temporally situated; Flag of Francisco I. Madero (February 9, 1913), Flag of Doliente Hidalgo (January 2, 1812), Flag of José María Morelos y Pavón, Flag of Francisco Villa, Flag of Siera Battalion, Flag of Jalisco Battalion, Libres de Puebla Battalion, Artillería Mina Battalion, Oaxaca Battalion, Toluca Battalion, Flag of Chihuahua Battalion, Flag of Durango Battalion, Flag of San Lorenzo Battalion, Flag of Lanceros Battalion, Flag of San Luis Potosí Battalion, Flag of Aguascalientes Battalion, Flag of Galeana Battalion (May 22, 1864), Flag of San Blas Battalion (September 24, 1846), Flag of Tres Villas Battalion, Flag of Milicias Battalion, Flag of Remixto Battalion, Flag of Quautla Battalion, Flag of 201 Squadron, Etc.[28]

Monumental flags

In 1999, President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo started a program erecting giant flags across the country. Directed by the Secretariat of National Defense, the banderas monumentales (monumental flags) were placed in various cities and spots, most of which are of great significance to the nation. In a decree issued on July 1, 1999, by Zedillo, the flags were to be placed in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Veracruz. The decree also stipulated for the flags to measure 14.3 meters by 25 meters, which are raised on flag poles that are 50 meters high. After these initial monumental flags were created, cities such as Ensenada, Nuevo Laredo and Cancún were reported to have their own monumental flags. Smaller flags, called banderas semi-monumentales, have been erected in smaller towns and at various educational institutes.[29]

As of December 22, 2010, the biggest Mexican flag in the world is now located in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.[30] Located at the Gran Plaza (Great Plaza) right across from International Bridge I connecting Piedras Negras with Eagle Pass, Texas. The pole is 120 meters in height and weighs 160 tons making it the tallest one in Latin America and one of the tallest in the world. The flag measures 60 by 34 meters and weighs 420 kilograms.[31]

Mexico's first largest monumental flag was the one located at the Mirador del Obispado in Monterrey (northeast) with a pole of 120 tons and 100.6 meters in height. The flag measures 50 by 28.6 meters and weighs 230 kilograms, four times the size of most other monumental flags at the time. It is located at the top of the Cerro del Obispado (Bishopric Hill) at an altitude of 775 meters above the sea level (city's altitude 538 meters).[32] There is another monumental flag of similar size in the city of Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato, the cradle of Mexican independence.

Example Locations
  1. Piedras Negras, Coahuila
  2. Monterrey, Nuevo León
  3. Querétaro, Querétaro
  4. Mexico City:
    Zócalo, in the city center
    Campo Militar Marte, military base behind Los Pinos
    San Jerónimo roundabout, in Periférico Sur
  5. Chihuahua, Chihuahua
  6. Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua
  7. Iguala, Guerrero
  8. Tonalá, Jalisco
  9. Mérida, Yucatán
  10. Cancún, Quintana Roo
  11. Mexicali, Baja California
  12. Tampico, Tamaulipas
  13. Tijuana, Baja California
  14. Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
  15. Campeche, Campeche
  16. Veracruz, Veracruz
  17. Acapulco, Guerrero
  18. Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
  19. Pachuca, Hidalgo
  20. Durango, Durango
  21. Ensenada, Baja California

See also


  1. Art of Mesoamerica, Miller. 245.
  2. Diagrams of historical Mexican flags (in Spanish)
  3. Juán López de Escalera Diccionario Biográfico y de Historia de México, Editorial del Magisterio, México, 1964.
  4. "Mexican Empire (1821–1823)". Fotw.vexillum.com. January 17, 2009. Archived from the original on August 10, 2004. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  5. January 7, 1822 Decree Establishing the Imperial Flag
  6. "Mexico (1823-1864/1823-1880)". Fotw.vexillum.com. January 17, 2009. Archived from the original on October 16, 2005. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  7. November 1, 1865 Decree on the Imperial Arms
  8. Page 45 of Adventure Guides Mexico's Pacific Coast by Vivien Lougheed, Hunter Publishing, ISBN 978-1-58843-395-4
  9. Flags of the World page "Mexico – Flag without arms" Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (Archive page)
  10. Flags of the World page "Mexico – Reverse side of the flag" Archived February 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Diario Oficial de la Federación (DOF) of May 9, 1995
  12. Gabino Villascán, Juan Manuel. "Mexico". Flags of the World. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  13. Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012. London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited. 2012. p. 91.
  14. Gabino Villascán, Juan Manuel. "Mexico". Flags of the World. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  15. Flags of the World page "Mexico" Archived March 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. Vexilla mundi page "Mexico" Archived February 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  17. Inkscape RGB to CMYK converter (approx.)
  18. Adobe Photoshop RGB Translator
  19. Ghisi, Enrico Il tricolore italiano (1796–1870) Milan: Anonima per l'Arte della Stampa, 1931; see Gay, H. Nelson in The American Historical Review Vol. 37 No. 4 (pp. 750–751), July 1932
  20. "Artículo 41 Ley Sobre el Escudo, La Bandera y el Himno Nacionales (Article 41 of the Law of the National Arms, Flag and Anthem)". Info4.juridicas.unam.mx. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  21. 2000 ceremony in Mexico to hand the national flag over from President Zedillo to flag-bearer Fernando Platas for the Sydney Olympics, canoe.ca, August 22, 2000
  22. "Ley sobre el escudo, la bandera y el himno nacionales" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  23. Flags of the World page "Mexico – Coat of arms" Archived November 25, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  24. "Photo of the PAN flag with the corbata". Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  25. Christian Science Monitor article on the PRI logo controversy
  26. Miglierini, Julian (February 10, 2010). "MTV under fire as it pulls South Park episode in Mexico". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  27. "Multa SEGOB a Paulina Rubio for posar con bandera Mexicana". El Universal. February 14, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  28. SEDENA, Libro de banderas históricas
  29. Installment of semi-monumental flags in León, Guanajuato September 9, 2005 (in Spanish)
  30. "En Piedras Negras ondea la bandera de México más grande del mundo". Milenio.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  31. Por Hilda Aguilar (December 23, 2010). "En Piedras Negras, Izan Bandera más grande del mundo [ESPECIAL] – 23/12/2010 | Periódico Zócalo". Zocalo.com.mx. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  32. Secretariat of Interior article Archived March 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish)
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