Do's and Don'ts in Spain

Spain Etiquette Tips

1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress stylishly, but modestly. Dress nicely for casual events as well.
  2. DO wear nice accessories.
  3. DO wear conservative suits and ties for business events. Avoid loud colors.
  4. DON'T wear shorts when planning to visit churches or Museums.

2. Table Manners

  1. DO remember that dinner starts around 9 or 10 PM. Some restaurants won't get hopping until 11!
  2. DO rest your wrists at the edge of the table when eating.
  3. DON'T eat until the host begins.
  4. DON'T give a toast if you're either the guest of honor or the host. The host gives the first toast and the guest of honor gives a toast later on in the meal.
  5. DO put your knife and fork on your plate parallel with the handles facing to the right to show that you are done eating.
  6. DO remain seated until the guest of honor gets up.

3. Tipping

  1. DO tip a little bit, but only if you want. Leaving a tip isn't customary in Spain, but sometimes people will leave a small (5%-10%) tip or just a few coins.

4. Gift giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO open your gift immediately.
  2. DO give a high quality gift, but nothing too extravagant.
  3. DO wrap the gift nicely.
  4. DO give dahlias, chrysanthemums, white lilies, or red roses if you choose to give flowers. Flowers should also be given in odd numbers, except for unlucky thirteen.
  5. DO give a gift from your hometown. For children, local college or professional sports team paraphernalia makes a good gift, such as shirts or baseball caps.

5. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands upon meeting someone, including the kids. Start with the oldest people first.
  2. DO expect a kiss on each cheek (starting with the left cheek) or a hug from a woman you are familiar with. Expect a pat on the back or a quick hug from a man you are familiar with.

6. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO bring a gift to the host. Desserts, flowers, or an alcoholic beverage all make a nice gift.
  2. DO find out if your hosts have children, and bring a small gift especially for them.

7. Business Meetings

  1. DO be punctual. The Spanish have a very relaxed view of time, but as a foreigner, you will be expected to be punctual.
  2. DO get your business cards printed with the information in Spanish on one side. You should also bring any printed materials translated to Spanish, even though most business people in Spain speak English
  3. DO be patient when it comes to negotiations. Business people in Spain can appear to be a little disorderly, with many people speaking at the same time. Negotiations also might proceed slower than you're used to.
  4. DO be aware that dining is important to business relationships in Spain. Your Spanish business associates are likely to join you at your meals.
  5. DO remember that many times the first meeting is simply to get to know each other and start the relationship. Business may not occur at all in the initial meeting.
  6. DO be prepared to give a gift when a successful business agreement has been reached.
Have a great trip to Spain!

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