Business Etiquette of Spanish Market: Business Culture and Recommended Foreign Market Entry Strategies

The high income Spanish market is one of the most promising and rapidly developing markets of the European Union.

Its business etiquette is a vital issue to study before attempting the foreign market entry.

The major language used in Spanish business circles is Spanish. Though many businessmen speak English, the country’s business culture prescribes using Spanish in correspondence and at personal meetings.

Foreign Market Entry

Government incentives for foreign investors are a favorable feature of the Spanish market.

Madrid and Barcelona are the largest business centers of the Spanish market. Therefore, the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service recommends foreign market entry to be conducted by means of an agent or distributor, or via establishing a local office in one of the two major cities.

Both price and quality are equally important for Spanish business. Other significant issues are customer service, credit terms, and marketing assistance in promoting the goods or services of a foreign exporter.

Highly popular in Spanish business is using a credit for purchasing goods, and banks compete for offering the coverage.

Doing Business in Spain

Though Spanish government welcomes foreign investors, the bureaucracy accompanying the foreign market entry is significant. Since usually Spaniards cannot be found in a hurry, it may take some time and effort to get certain results by the deadline.

Respect to the country’s language, history and traditions is highly valued by the hospitable citizens. As for communication, it is normal for Spaniards to speak fast and interrupt each other.

Business Etiquette

The business culture of the Spanish market is more formal than that of the US. However, there is nothing better for entering the market than a personal meeting. Phone calls, e-mails or other correspondence will not provide such a good effect as personal face-to-face contact. Personal relations is what Spanish business values most of all.

  • Formal clothing is preferred by Spanish businessmen. Usually it is a business suite for women and a suite with a tie for men. In Spain dressing is to reflect business and social status.
  • Business cards are very common, and are expected at personal meetings. They should be either in Spanish, or in two languages – English and Spanish.
  • A handshake is always appropriate at the beginning and at the end of a meeting along with basic courtesy titles: Senor for a man, Senora or Senorita for a woman.
  • Appointments are recommended.
  • Business lunch usually starts at 2 PM, and may last up to 2 hours.
  • Dinner starts at 9:30 PM, and may last till midnight.

General Information

  • Usual business hours are from 9 AM to 6 PM.
  • Banks are open on weekdays, from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and sometimes on Saturday mornings.
  • Shopping can be done in department stores from 10 AM to 8 PM, Monday through Saturday. Smaller stores and offices are usually closed between 2 and 4 PM.The official currency is Euro.
  • Visa is not needed for the US citizens to be in Spain for 90 days.