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10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Belgian Business Culture

Updated on Friday 23rd October 2015

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10-Things-You-Didnt-Know-about-the-Belgian-Business-Culture.jpg1. Punctuality

 
Both the Flemish and the Walloons consider that punctuality is important in business meetings and in general. The Flemish can be a little stricter regarding this aspect.
 

2. Language differences

 
Belgium has three official languages: French, German and Dutch. Most Flemish will also speak French and Belgians are known to be bilingual and even tri-lingual. It is polite to show consideration when doing business with Belgians and lean a few basic phrases so you can adapt to a Walloon or a Flemish business environment.
 

3. Communication 

 
Face to face communication is important in any business relationship. When making introductions in Belgium the general rule is to firmly shake hands (a gentler squeeze when meeting women). Belgians will start conversations with an “ice breaker” topic and foreign entrepreneurs can expect a warm welcome.
 

4. Using titles

 
Individuals are not usually addressed by their titles. An exception to this is done in case of university professors or lawyers. First names are only used after some time and if the other party allows you to.
 

5. Business meetings

 
Business meetings usually take place in a formal setting. Appointments are necessary and they will be scheduled by the person with which you are meeting.
 

6. Dress code

 
The dress code in Belgium is conservative: dark colored suits jackets or business suits and conservative dresses. The dress code can be a little less formal in young hi-tech companies.
 

7. Gift giving etiquette

 
Business gifts are not that common in Belgium, although if you decide to offer some sort of reasonable gift after having successfully ended a business transaction, it should be modest and neutral (no flashy business logos on the gift)/
 

8. Dining 

 
Dining can take place at a restaurant or at home (although this is reserved for family and friends). Toasts are usually given by the host of guest of honor. It is polite to stand up during the toast. The Flemish raise their glass twice during a toast: at the beginning and at the end.
 

9. What to avoid

 
Certain topics and behaviors are best avoided in Belgium. Some examples include pointing or using over-expressive hand gestures, asking personal questions, talking about the wages, racial minorities or making a point out of the Flemish-Walloon differences.
 

10. Doing business in Belgium

 
Belgians can be direct in communicating their business intentions. However, when starting a business you can expect to encounter a certain degree of bureaucratic steps. Investors in Belgium should be prepared to adapt to a multicultural and open country.
 
For any other questions related to how to open a company in Belgium and how to run a business you can contact our company registration experts in Belgium
 
 
 

Comments

  • Suhail 2015-10-27

    Interesting article. Can you advise about business consulting in Belgium and how to approach the market.

    Hello Suhail! We are glad that you found our article useful. If you need company formation services in Belgium, we kindly ask you to send us a detailed e-mail at office@lawyersbelgium.com and we will reply as soon as possible. Have a great day!

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