International Business Etiquette

Have Cards, Will Travel
A business etiquette guide for the mobile entrepreneur.

The degree of formality of business card etiquette varies from country to country, and, sometimes, city to city. Be prepared by understanding the business culture you will be involved in. Use this guide as a base for proper etiquette in your travels.







































Argentina
When in Argentina, it is a smart idea to have business cards in Spanish on one side. Argentineans often exchange cards after the introductory handshake, and often (have quantity). A smile and eye contact, along with taking some time to gaze at the person's card, is an effective way to ensure your associate that you are being genuine. Interpersonal and group relationship skills are no small matter in Argentinean business culture.

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Australia
Australians typically offer their cards at introduction.

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Austria
German on one side is appreciated. In Austria, professional and academic qualifications are emphasized. Company positions should be printed beneath your title, name, degree and/or professional qualifications. It is easy to underestimate the number of cards needed in Austria; expect to offer them to any person you come across, including secretaries, receptionists, and/or administrative assistants.

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Belgium
Belgians are enthusiastic about exchanging cards. Depending on the region you are visiting, your cards should be printed in French or Dutch on one side-the side facing your associate when presenting your card.

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Brazil
Brazilians are fond of exchanging business cards, and you can easily obtain translated/printed business cards within a day. Print all literature in Portuguese as well as English.

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Chile
Chileans are fond of exchanging business cards so have a good number of them, and have them printed in Spanish on one side. Cards are traditionally traded after the first handshake. Chilean business card etiquette is relatively formal and ritualized: smile and look in your associate's eyes when giving or receiving a card, and take a few moments to admire your associate's card when receiving. Make sure your cards are clean and crisp. A card case helps with that as well as the sure-to-be noticed grace of putting your associate's card away with care.

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China
The Chinese are fond of trading business cards so don't be caught short. Have your card printed in the local dialect of Chinese on one side. In this business culture, an emphasized reason for exchanging cards is to understand who the key decision makers are-be sure to include your professional title. Prestige and distinction matter; age, size or any other distinguishing features of your company should also be printed on the card. You would be well served to print your cards in gold, the color of prestige and prosperity in Chinese business culture.

When presenting your card, use two hands, and face the Chinese print toward your associate. When receiving, be overt about taking all Cramming a business card that you did not read into your pocket is considered very rude.

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Columbia
Have your cards printed in Spanish on one side and present the card with the Spanish side up when exchanging.

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Denmark
It is unnecessary to have your card printed in Danish. If your company is over ten years old, indicate this on your card. Stability is emphasized in Danish culture.

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Egypt
Have your card printed in Arabic on one side.

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France
The majority of French businesspeople read English, so it is unnecessary to have your card printed in French. If you do have your card printed in French, avoid printing on both sides of the card, and your position, as well as any Ph. D. level degrees, should be indicated in French.

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Germany
You may want to print your card in German on one side, depending on your associates' English speaking ability. In German business culture, background and education are emphasized. Indicate your full title, position, university degrees, and if desired any professional organizations you are affiliated with. German associates should be addressed by the academic title given on their card.

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Hong Kong
Print your business card in Chinese on one side. Your name, title, company, office telephone and fax number should appear on your card, as well as your company logo, which is as important as a name for a well regarded company in Hong Kong. Have quantity-to not offer a business card in return when receiving one is to say you'd prefer not to associate with that person. Or that you do not have any status. Take time to overtly observe the contents of any card you receive and place it in a card case or on a table with care.

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India
Be generous with your cards (have quantity!). It is not necessary to print in any language other than your own.

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Indonesia
Have your card printed in color and embossed, because an ornate card will be appreciated. Less importantly so, having your card printed in Bahasa Indonesia will also be appreciated. After making sure that your name and position is emphasized, include as much information on your card as you can. Indonesians include all business titles and qualifications, and titles of nobility on their cards. When receiving a card, overtly observe the contents and remark on the card before carefully placing in a card case or on a nearby table. Hastily putting the card in your back pocket will be perceived as disrespectful.

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Ireland
Offer your card at introduction.

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Israel
In Israel, English is the language of business. Israelis consider business cards to be very important. To be considered the most prestigious, a business card should be engraved.

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Italy
Have your business card printed in Italian on one side, and include postgraduate university degrees and professional titles. A main reason that an Italian looks at your business card is to figure out your level of importance. As important as importance is decorum and presentation. Use a card case to keep your cards neat and put thought into an attractive design; Italians think everything can and should be beautiful.

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Japan
The Japanese take business card etiquette seriously. Business cards are called "meishi" and are essential for business and establishing credentials. Have quantity. Print one side of your card in Japanese. Japanese businesspeople will want to know a lot about your background and qualifications, so indicate any memberships in professional associations you may have in addition to job titles and academic degrees.

Present your card after the bow or handshake, with both hands, with the Japanese side facing the recipient. It is expected that you will give your card to the person of highest rank first. Also be aware that persons of high rank often have their cards presented by subordinates. Overtly observe contents of an associate's card for a few moments then remark on it. This is the appropriate time to ask about proper pronunciation or anything else that is unclear on the card. After this small ritual you may then carefully place the card in your card case or on a table. Writing on the card is considered rude as well as stuffing it into your pocket without ceremony.

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Jordan
Jordanians appreciate color, so business cards that employ full color images and background graphics will certainly be noticed if not required. Have your brochures done in full color on glossy paper; it is the expected standard. Consider printing your cards in Arabic on one side.

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Malaysia
You would be well served to have your cards gold foil embossed. Since many of Malaysian businesspeople are Chinese, have one side printed in Chinese. Gold is considered a prestigious color for the ink. Your business card should include academic and professional qualifications as well as your business title. After introductions, everybody in the room should be offered your card.

Use both hands when offering your card, or use your left hand to support your right arm or hand as your right hand holds the card. Face the print toward your associate, who will accept your card with both hands. You should also use both hands when receiving a card. Overtly observe an associate's card before placing in a card case or pocket. Do not jam it into your pocket without reverence or write on the card.

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Mexico
Never throw your card on the table as this gesture is considered offensive, and realize the appearance of your card will be closely inspected and considered.

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Netherlands
Most Dutch businesspeople are fluent in English so cards do not need translation, however, promotional materials and instruction manuals should be in Dutch if the terminology is complicated. Due to a deep respect for higher education, you should indicate any degree over a Bachelor's in your card (but not in conversation). When you are designing brochures, consider quality visuals. The Dutch are accustomed to high quality brochures.

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Peru
Have your card printed in Spanish on one side. Your professional title, such as doctor or engineer, should be included when your profession is traditionally endowed with prestige, as well as your job title, such as director of pediatrics or foreign account coordinator. Because titles are best for winning Peruvian respect, consider including your title on other printed materials.

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Philippines
It is not necessary to have your card printed in another language. Like other Asian countries, trading business cards is an integral part of establishing relations. Unlike other Asian countries, the physical trade itself is less formal, however, use both hands to give and receive. Look at the card for a beat or three and comment on before putting it away.

If a Filipino businessperson handwrites his/her home phone number on his/her card, you may call them at home. Business relations take time and effort to foster and develop through socialization in the Philippines, and a lot of this takes place outside the office. A Filipino businessperson may not give you a card in return for yours. A person traveling in the Philippines should always offer his or her card first.

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Portugal
The Portuguese normally exchange cards on first meeting. Formal etiquette is not required, but politeness is appreciated.

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Russia
Have quantity, because Russians trade cards often and phone directories are commonly unavailable. Have your card printed in Russian and with Cyrillic text on one side. Face the Russian toward the recipient as you hand over the card. Include any university degrees along with your full name and title. Expect that some Russian businesspeople may not have cards; write down the information you need and use the opportunity to be graceful by not making a big deal of it.

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Saudi Arabia
Business cards are not necessary in the Kingdom. It is accepted practice to have Arabic and English on the same side of the card, so no language can be perceived as superior to the other. One may also have both English cards and Arabic cards separately. Brochures and other promotional literature should always be in Arabic, with or without English translation.

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Singapore
Print your cards in English, the first and business language of Singapore. After introducing yourself, give your card to everyone in the room (have quantity). Give your card with the print toward the recipient, give and receive with both hands, and carefully look at a card when given to you before putting away in a card case, front pocket, or on a table. Do not be too quick to put it away, write on the card or put it in your back pocket.

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South Africa
Cards are normally exchanged at the beginning of meetings.

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South Korea
Whether or not your card has Korean printed anywhere on one side is determined by your associates' competency in English. South Koreans are very enthusiastic about exchanging cards, so stock up. You can have cards printed in South Korea. In the event you are caught without one, you may promise to send one later.

A South Korean looks at your card to determine the level of decision making authority you have, and so he or she can match you to someone of a similar authority level in their corporation. For this reason you should emphasize your title or any other qualifications that indicate rank. Offer your business card with both hands, with the appropriate language facing your associate. Look at the contents for a beat or three and then place the card in a card case or front pocket. To immediately stuff it into your back pocket is to say doing business with that person does not interest you. Writing on a card is also considered disrespectful by some people.

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Spain
Print your cards in Spanish on one side and present that side to the person receiving the card. Take as much literature about your company as possible, and product samples and service demos can be very beneficial.

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Sweden
It is okay to have cards without Swedish print, but have quantity because Swedes are enthusiastic about trading cards. Titles and education tend to go unannounced on Swedish business cards.

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Switzerland
The Swiss are also happy to exchange cards, so stock up. The secretaries/receptionists expect a card to keep filed, and everybody else involved in the business deal will want a card, also. Rank in the corporate hierarchy is emphasized and academic and professional qualifications are deemphasized. Printing your professional title in a different font may help to highlight your position within an organization.

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Taiwan
Rank and importance are emphasized in Taiwanese business culture, and business cards are integral because they quickly communicate your rank and importance. Everyone you come across will expect a business card, and if you show up to meetings without them you will be considered rude and unprofessional. Name, company and title are to be announced. Print one side in Mandarin Chinese, preferably in gold ink (the color of prosperity).

It is considered a great honor to receive a business card, and they should be accepted with ceremony: overtly admire the contents of the card, make sure your examination is careful. Remark on the card before putting it away in a card case with care. Quickly putting it in a back pocket will be considered rude. Know that a Taiwanese business card puts the last name first.

Sometimes Taiwanese business people adopt a Western name so the Westerners they do business with don't fret about the pronunciation of his or her name. Present your card with both hands with the Chinese side toward the person receiving the card. If the recipient does not offer a card in return, it may be that he or she does not want to do business with you.

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Turkey
You do not have to have any Turkish print on the card, but you do have to give cards to all people you come across, so have plenty. Secretaries, receptionists and administrative assistants will expect their own card.

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United Arab Emirates
While it is not necessary to offer business cards, have them printed in Arabic if you do take them. Or have English and Arabic printed on the same side; no language can be regarded as superior to the other. It is also accepted practice to have two cards for Arabic and English.

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United Kingdom
Cards are normally traded at the end of meetings.

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Venezuela
Use of business cards is common so have quantity. Have your card printed in Spanish on one side. The content of the card should emphasize your title or position, because status is important. Physically treat others' cards with respect; do not toss a card on a table.

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