Business etiquette

Luxembourg-flag-140Corporate social responsibility

Society’s expectations of companies are growing significantly and we must look beyond those needs and make a positive and responsible contribution. Corporate Social Responsibility concerns how companies organize, strategize and compete, while subscribing to a new set of principles around mission, transparency, good governance, sustainable business case, authenticity and innovation. In Luxembourg many companies, banks and other organization of the private sector carry out such activities.


The Luxembourg people expect and appreciate punctuality, on both business and social occasions. Arriving late for any appointment is considered rude and disrespectful by Luxembourgers. If you are going to be late for a meeting with your counterpart, ensure that you call in advance of the designated time to let them know and to offer your apologies. Give them the choice of waiting for you to arrive or rescheduling. Arriving late may brand you as unreliable, as their opinion will be: how can you be trusted to meet a deadline, if you are late for a meeting? Luxembourgers themselves will always arrive punctually for an appointment and naturally, they expect the same courtesy. It is also important to note that meetings generally tend to be brief; as Luxembourgers usually get right down to business and do not believe in wasting time.

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Gift giving

Gift giving among business associates is not common practice in Luxembourg. There has recently been a move towards concentrating much more on the actual business at hand, and less on formalities and rituals like gift giving when travelling on business. However, for special occasions, like retirement parties or weddings, gift giving is customary. The following are important issues to note, when considering giving a gift:

  • If you are invited to someone’s home, bring flowers, quality chocolates or liqueur for the host, and present your gift upon arrival.
  • Invitations to tea are formal and require the same gift as a dinner party.
  • Just as importantly, you must send a hand-written thank-you letter to your hosts to reach them on the next day. You might also send a basket of fruit, as a token of gratitude and appreciation
  • In accordance with the old European tradition, if you are giving flowers, they should be given in odd numbers, except for the number thirteen, which is considered unlucky.
  • Do not give chrysanthemums, as they are used at funerals in Luxembourg.
  • Good gift selections can also include coffee table books about your home country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts and is representative of your country
  • A small gift for the children is always appreciated, and should be appropriate to the importance of family.
  • Gifts are not usually opened when received, if there are other guests present.
  • It is acceptable, but not expected, to present a Christmas gift to a Luxembourg colleague in the workplace, but never send it to a Luxembourger’s home address.
  • Card giving at holidays is very appropriate and appreciated. Thanking business partners for the previous year’s business and wishing them a prosperous year to come will be received with gratitude. The practice in Luxembourg is to send New Year’s greetings and this can occur throughout the whole month of January, but not later.
  • If you have time, you can corroborate your gift selections with a representative from the Luxembourg embassy. Luxembourg has the same common traditions as most other European countries in terms of gift giving.

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Business dress code

Luxembourgers dress well at all times. Men wear suits, shirts and ties and women wear dresses or pants. The office dress code is professional, but can vary from office to office. In the case of a job interview, it is important to have a professional appearance and dress appropriately. Caps, bandanas, athletic shoes, sweats, unkempt clothes, jeans, singlets, open shoes and sandals are never acceptable.

The following are general dress tips while in Luxembourg:

  • For business, men should wear smart suits and ties, sometimes hats, or just a sports coat/blazer and dress pants.
  • Women are expected to be fashionably well-dressed and business suits are recommended.
  • Women wear warm, often wool or wool-blended, dresses and suits most of the year.
  • In summer, cotton or silk dresses are appropriate, but a sweater, blazer, or light wrap is often required.
  •  Lightweight suits are ideal for the changeable summer weather.
  • Both Luxembourgish and expatriate women are very fashion conscious and fashion trends are on a par with those of America and the rest of Europe.

Bribery and corruption

Corruption is virtually non-existent in Luxembourg. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has laws, regulations and penalties to effectively combat corruption, which are enforced impartially, with no disproportionate attention to foreign investors or any other group. The country ranks very favourably (No. 12 in the world) on the World Bank corruption index (2012 estimate). In particular, Luxembourg has made priorities of anti-money laundering schemes and the suppression of the finance of terrorism, given its status as a leading world financial centre. The government has taken the lead in freezing bank accounts that are suspected to be connected to terrorist networks and, in November 2004, extended the laws against money-laundering and terrorist financing to additional professional groups (including auditors, accountants, attorneys, and notaries). Regulations are enforced by the strong, but flexible, Financial Sector Surveillance Commission (CSSF, which is equivalent to the US Securities and Exchange Commission).

There are no areas or sectors where corruption is pervasive, whether in government procurement, transfers, performance requirements, dispute settlement, the regulatory system, or taxation. Giving or receiving a bribe is a criminal act, subject to the penal code and senior government officials take anti­-corruption efforts very seriously. International, regional or local non-governmental “watchdog” organisations do not operate in the country because they are not required.

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