If you’re business entail you to travel all over the world and transact with foreign companies and individuals, international business card knowledge is needed. This will make prevent you from making uninformed errors when it comes to business card etiquette while in foreign nations.
Before we discuss about etiquette, let’s briefly talk about the basics of business cards. These include layout, design, content, and size. Most often, there are templates which can be used for layout and designs wherever you are in the world. As for content, these details must be present – address, contact number, and email address.
What’s varied is often the size. The table below shows the differences when it comes to the standard dimensions in various countries:
Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom
85 x 55
Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan,Vietnam
90 x 55
91 x 55
Hong Kong, China, Singapore
90 x 54
88.9 x 50.8
85 x 48
Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
90 x 50
With the basics taken care of, here are a few popular countries and the business card etiquette you need to take note of:
U.S. and U.K.
Rules in the U.K. are almost similar to the U.S. Although cards are kept presentable, it’s common to see people keeping cards in their pockets and writing notes at the back. When handing out cards, it is often done prior to meetings or right after introduction in order for business people to remember other’s names. It can also be done at anytime as long as no offense is meant. But the same cannot be said with other countries of the world.
Guidelines in Japan are more formal. Presenting your card can be done anytime except during meal time. Hold the card with both hands on opposite corners with the text portion facing the receiver for him to be able to read it. When distributing to multiple recipients, do so according to rank starting with higher rank individuals first.
If you are the receiver, the card is accepted with both hands as well, followed by bowing, and an expression of gratitude for the chance to have met the person. Also, the card must not be kept immediately. It must be examined and even memorized. You can also make clarifications regardless of how trivial it is. Never keep the card in your pocket. It should be placed on a folder or case instead. During meetings, all cards must be arranged in accordance with the participants seating arrangement.
As for layout, Japan follows this pattern for the address - country, state, postal code, city, and street.
Etiquette in China is similar to Japan. Both nations prefer the translation to be placed above the text content. In China, foreign translations are printed in gold ink. Both Japan and China do not utilize business cards for marketing purposes. These are mainly used for formal introductions and to simply aid participants in remembering everyone’s names.
In Korea, there is a translation on top also. When presenting it, the text faces the receiver as well. Presenting and receiving should also be done with both hands. Unlike the previous countries discussed though, a simple nod as a sign of gratitude afterwards will do and you can immediately keep the card right away. It is even considered impolite to stare at the card for an extended period.
Unlike South East Asian nations, an exchange of business cards in India is applicable even outside the formal business setting. It is often done after the introduction of both parties. Presenting and receiving must be done with the right hand. This applies to all Islamic countries as well some parts of Africa. The text portion should be facing the recipient but there’s no need for a translation since English is widely used in India. What you need to add are details on scholastic degrees and merits.
In Iran, exchange is only applicable for senior individuals. In Arab countries like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, business cards are exchanged with everyone you become acquainted with. In Spain, it is presented to a meeting or location’s receptionist when you arrive. As for layout, in Hungary, it shows your last name before your first name at the translated part.
Irrespective of the location, there are general rules which apply to an international business card. All in all, business cards represent who you are as an individual so these must be presented in the same manner as you would present yourself.