Business etiquette

Business etiquette in BelgiumBusiness etiquette in Belgium includes Attitudes and values form the basis of any culture.

They reflect both the way people think and the way they behave. Their knowledge can ther significant  if you wish to communicate with your counterparts.

The following section will introduce you to the essential attitudes and values that apply in Belgium and highlight their implications for business practice.

Business etiquette in Belgium : Corporate Social Responsibility

Attitudes to environmental issues have evolved rapidly in Belgium over the last 20 years, both at the public awareness level and in terms of government intervention.

Controls on manufacturing industries are now, in some cases, considered to be almost draconian.

Municipal waste management is highly organised, with the responsibility for waste sorting falling largely on the shoulders of the individual citizen.


Business etiquette : Belgians are generally good timekeepers, although the Flemish Belgians tend to be more meticulous than the Walloons. Punctuality in business is generally regarded as a virtue.

In the case of social events, attitudes on the right time to arrive may vary according to community and class.

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Business etiquette in Belgium : Gift giving

Gift giving is not normally an aspect of business relations in Belgium. If you decide that some sort of gesture is appropriate, make the gift a reasonably modest one and make sure it is logo neutral. Nothing should be given with the company logo, or with your business card attached.

If you are offered a gift, open it right away and show your appreciation. Many of the more traditional Belgian companies offer end-of-year gifts and these should be acknowledged.

If you have the honour of being invited into a Belgian home, by all means take a gift for the hostess: flowers, chocolates (for which Belgium is famous), but not wine. The rules on flowers are the same as for most other European countries.

A handwritten note of appreciation the following day will also always be welcome.

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Business etiquette in Belgium : Business Dress Code

It is normal to wear a jacket, the younger high-tech companies may happily tolerate an open-neck shirt and jeans. Colour has no particular significance, though it may be preferable to avoid looking too jazzy.

The quality of clothing is of only marginal importance in a culture that shows relatively little class-consciousness. Apart from making sure that your shoes are reasonably smart and well-polished, it is enough to avoid looking grubby.

Women, the younger generation in particular, may wear trousers, particularly trouser suits. When in doubt about the dress code for a particular business event, it is advisable to be well dressed rather than under-dressed. Uniforms, except for hygiene workers and chefs etc., are rarely worn.

If unsure of the dress code and what to wear, it is perfectly acceptable to ask someone from the company you are visiting. Belgium has one of the highest average annual rainfalls in Western Europe.

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Bribery and corruption

Under-the-table payments, by potential suppliers to company buyers, were  not an unusual feature of the Belgian business scene even 30 years ago. But the practice has since largely been stamped out.

In March 1999, Belgian anti-bribery legislation was completely revised. Included within this revision was an extension of the Belgian courts’ powers regarding extraterritorial bribery. Bribing foreign officials is a criminal offence in Belgium.

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