Vessels sailing under the Switzerland 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 Switzerland Country Flag is represented by a red background that is broken by a large, white cross. The arms of the cross are 1/6 longer than their width, a change made in 1890. One of the world's oldest existing flags, it was formally adopted in 1889. Being proportioned at a ratio of 1:1, height to length, respectively, it is one of only two national flags displayed in equal dimensions. The meaning of the flag is a tribute to Christianity, which is the historically dominant religious affiliation of Switzerland's general population. The country of Switzerland has traditionally remained neutral politically. Through many conflicts dating back to the Roman Empire and including World War Two, Switzerland has feigned neutrality. The Switzerland Country Flag has subsequently become an internationally recognized symbol of bold neutrality. The Flag pays tribute to the Coat Of Arms that represented one of three founding member states, or cantons of the Swiss Confederation in 1291, canton Schwyz. The symbol was gradually adopted as the Coat Of Arms for the united Confederation and subsequently influenced the Flag.