Department of State Marking Policy
The U.S. Department of State conducts a broad array of programs and activities overseas to promote democracy, human rights, science and technology, and sustainable economic development; increase mutual understanding; counter terrorism; and help create a safer, more secure, and prosperous world. By better informing foreign audiences about Department partnership and sponsorship of programs, our provision of humanitarian, economic, technical, and other types of assistance, and our efforts to address issues of common interest, we can increase the visibility and understanding of Department activities abroad while significantly advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives and the national interest.
To promote greater clarity in projecting to foreign audiences the Department of States role in these overseas programs and activities, the Department has instituted a moratorium on the introduction of new logos and markings designed for use with foreign publics, and has designated mandated uses of the U.S. flag in conjunction with established Department logos. All publicity and promotional materials should underscore sponsorship by or partnership with the U.S. Government or the U.S. Embassy.
The Department of State, including U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and other Department of State program entities or venues, will not develop or introduce new logos for its programs, including programs undertaken with implementing partners. Existing logos or program materials may continue to be used; however, a standard rectangular U.S. flag will be used in conjunction with such logos, in a size and prominence equal to (or greater than) any other logo or identity. The U.S. flag may replace or be used in conjunction with the Department of State seal, the U.S. Embassy seal, or other Department of State program logos. A standard rectangular U.S. flag will be incorporated into new:
Signage and banners at press conferences, cultural and other program events, conferences, receptions, public events, U.S. speaker programs, etc. sponsored by an entity of the Department of State;
Department and post-produced print publications (e.g., English language teaching materials, exchange information, etc.);
Signage and labeling on Department-sponsored foreign assistance activities;
Publicly distributed materials, including fact sheets; and
Other Department of State supported programs and activities, the focus of which is to engage foreign publics.
The logo moratorium and flag marking guidelines do not apply to Department and overseas mission social media sites and digital media engagement, such as those hosted on Facebook and other non-U.S. Government platforms. However, the Department strongly encourages implementing partners to highlight U.S. Government sponsorship in the information that partners post to their social media and other websites.
These guidelines do not apply to USAID programs (which have their own marking regulations) regardless of whether USAID implements programs with its own funding or with Department of State funding. Nor does this policy apply to other U.S. Government agencies implementing Department of State-funded programs, although they are strongly encouraged to follow the Department of States guidance, and they must adhere to the terms and conditions for branding stated in the interagency agreement.
The Department wants to ensure that programs and assistance for foreign audiences being implemented through grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts suitably recognize U.S. Government support, and to the maximum extent practicable, incorporate the U.S. flag. Hereafter, grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts for Department of State overseas programs will, as a general matter, include clauses that require use of the standard, rectangular flag for Department-funded activities. In addition, grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts awarded to implementing partners will contain a clause stipulating that U.S. Government support be acknowledged appropriately in all dealings with program participants, and in press releases, ceremonies, dedications, interviews, publicity, social media and other websites, etc. Finally, such instruments will stipulate that all award recipients must coordinate publicity, ceremonial events, dedications, etc. with the sponsoring Department of State or appropriate embassy offices and public affairs personnel, in order to assure that these Department of State marking requirements have been appropriately taken into account.
This marking policy, consistent with existing marking policies and practices, ensures the means for the Department of State to provide exceptions, including means by which a recipient organization may request exceptions. While the goal is to implement this policy in a comprehensive fashion, there are situations which warrant that exceptions be made. Legitimate reasons that the Department may decide not to mark our programs may include, but are not limited to:
Reasons of safety and security for Department employees, implementing partners, and/or program participants and beneficiaries;
Programs or projects in which the U.S. Government is one of any number of co-sponsors, donors, or participants, or where highlighting the United States would be disproportionate to the U.S. contribution; and
Where identifying U.S. Government support, or where use of the U.S. flag, would raise suspicion of U.S. motives, alienate partners, participants, or beneficiaries, or otherwise undermine the goals of the program.
Partner organizations and/or assistance recipients that wish to request an exception from the marking requirements should discuss their concerns with the grants officer for their federal assistance agreement or contract.
For downloadable images of the U.S. flag, contact your Department of State (or embassy) grants officer, grants officer representative, or other point of contact for your grant, agreement, or contract.
Recipients and applicant organizations should contact their sponsoring Department of State bureau, office, or overseas mission for specific information related to federal assistance or contracts. For general questions about the Department marking policy and overall branding strategy, please contact VisiblyAmerican@state.gov