Vessels sailing under the Kiribati Country Flag are required to have on board this flag as part of flag state requirements that derive from maritime regulations in the International Code of Signals and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. These codes are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as an ongoing effort to reinforce maritime safety procedures and communications to the international maritime community. Fleet management companies and ship owners are responsible to ensure that each vessel in their respective fleets have the appropriate flag signage onboard to be in compliance. This flag is used to identify the flag state a vessel is sailing under and to communicate with other vessels under the provisions of the International Code of Signals.
The Kiribati Country Flag is designed as a red background sky on the top half. The bottom half consists of six alternating white and blue wavy stripes, blue on the bottom and white on top. These depict an ocean or body of water. A golden sun rises in the center of the flag with 17 rays protruding, while a golden frigate bird flies just above the sun rays, facing left toward the hoist. The 17 rays represent the 16 islands that make up the country, with the final ray denoting Banaba, an associated island with difficult political ties. The bird represents authority and mastery of the sea. The sun rising into a red sky depicts the equatorial location of these islands and the blue and white stripes are reminiscent of the Pacific ocean where they lie.