Alférez (rank)

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Alférez is a junior officer rank in the militaries of Spain, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The Spanish word was derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "knight" or "cavalier". The variant alferes is used in Portugal and was formerly also used in Brazil. A naval variant, frigate alférez, is used in Spain, Dominican Republic and Peru. Alférez is often translated as ensign. Alférez was the Spanish officer rank associated with the carrying of a unit flag. Alférez is also sometimes translated as sub-lieutenant or second lieutenant. These translations are approximate. The rank of alférez was first used by Spanish armies during the reconquista in the middle ages. During that time alférez was the leader of the retinue of a king or high-ranking nobleman. The famous warrior El Cid was the alférez of King Alfonso VI of Castile and Alfonso Núñez was the alférez of Duke Raymond of Galicia.

The NATO rank code is OF-1.


In Argentina, the rank of alférez is used by both the air force and the gendarmerie. It is, however, used differently in the two services. The air force uses the rank for newly qualified officers, while the gendarmerie uses alférez ranks as an equivalent for the army's "lieutenant" ranks.

The other armed forces of Argentina do not use the rank of ensign.

Argentine Air Force rank Argentine Gendarmerie rank Equivalent Commonwealth ranks for comparison
------------- ------------- -------------
Alférez Sub-Alférez Acting pilot officer / second lieutenant
Lieutenant Alférez Pilot officer / second lieutenant
First Lieutenant First alférez Flying officer / lieutenant


In Chile, an officer cadet is known as a sub-alférez. On graduating from officer training, he becomes an alférez for a year while carrying out training specific to his arm. After this the alférez is promoted to sub-lieutenant.


Frigate alférezaa is the lowest naval officer rank.


Alférez is the lowest officer rank in Spain, immediately below lieutenant. Frigate alférez is the lowest naval officer rank.

Dominican Republic[edit]

Alférez is used in the Dominican Navy, with frigate alférez (second lieutenant) and ship alférez (first lieutenant) being the lowest naval officer ranks.