Luxembourg Business Etiquette

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Bienvenue au Luxembourg! (‘‘Welcome to Luxembourg!” in French)

Wilkommen in Luxemburg! (‘‘Welcome to Luxembourg!” in German)

Wëllkomm zu Lëtzebuerg(‘‘Welcome to Luxembourg!” in Luxembourgish)

Luxembourg, formally known as the Grand Duchy as Luxembourg, is one of the smallest countries in the world. This may be why it is one of the lesser spotlighted nations. This week in our Business Etiquette blurb, we’re going to try to change that.

Although Luxembourg is a small country, it is vastly important in the business sphere. Luxembourg is a well-known tax haven; as a result, there are a large number (over 150!) of banks located in the country. Skype, the video calling service, is headquartered in Luxembourg. In addition, Amazon, PayPal, Rakuten, and Rovi Corporation all have European headquarters in Luxembourg.

Before you decide to take a trip to Luxembourg, let’s first learn about the dos and don’ts of Luxembourger business etiquette.

The Lowdown

  • The capital of Luxembourg is Luxembourg City, which is also its largest city.
  • Citizens of Luxembourg are known as “Luxembourgers.”
  • Luxembourg has three official languages: Dutch, French, and Luxembourgish. French and German are the two main languages spoken.
  • Luxembourg is very ethnically diverse. Make-up includes French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Slavs, and other European subsets.
  • Luxembourg is predominantly a Christian nation – approximately 87% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, and the remaining percentage is composed of other religions.
  • Luxembourg is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy (the current monarch is Grand Duke Henri).
  • Fun fact: Luxembourg is among the 30 smallest countries in the world by population and is the eighth-least populous nation in Europe. So, not a very big place.

Dressing Sharp

  • It is important to be well-kept and properly dressed in Luxembourger business culture.
  • Men should wear: dark, clean business suits with a pressed shirt and tie.
  • Women should wear: dark, clean business suits (with either pants or a skirt) or a dress.

Make or Break Meetings

  • Punctuality is important, and meetings should be scheduled weeks, if not months, in advance. If you expect to be late for a scheduled meeting, it is wise to call the Luxembourger party and apologize.
  • The initial greeting will likely be very formal. If you do not know the Luxembourger party well, a handshake is the proper greeting. As the relationship progresses, you may greet the opposite sex with three “air kisses” on the cheek. (Note: men do not kiss men in Luxembourger society).
  • If you happen to have a mutual third party contact who knows both yourself and the Belgian party, this may be helpful in facilitating introductions.
  • Many Luxembourgers are fluent in English; however, you should verify this before you leave on your trip.
  • Luxembourgers value their country, independence, the Grand Duchy, politeness, and respect. Keep all of these things in mind while having a conversation.
  • Because the business culture is very formal, use formal pronouns such as “vous” rather than the informal “tu.”

Dining Decorum

  • Table manners are formal and Continental.
  • Do not sit down or begin eating until you are told to do so. There are certain protocols revolving around meals that must be followed.
  • The host and guest of honor should each give a toast during the dinner.
  • Use utensils at all time, even when eating sandwiches.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table and remember to keep your hands visible at all times during the meal.
  • When you are finished eating, cross your utensils on top of your plate.

Giving and Getting Gifts

  • Gift giving is appropriate if you are invited to the home of a Luxembourger.
  • Acceptable gifts include: quality chocolates, flowers, or toys for children.
  • If you give the gift of flowers, give an odd number (except unlucky 13) and avoid giving chrysanthemums.
  • Gifts are typically opened upon receipt.

Down to Business

  • Luxembourgers like to develop long-lasting and stable business relationships with their business contacts. It is worthwhile to spend time cultivating these relationships.
  • Meetings are strictly scheduled and no-nonsense.
  • Luxembourgers are subtle in their communication. Being overly blunt or direct is considered rude and off-putting.
  • Do not be boastful, impatient, or overly-emotional.
  • Business is hierarchical in Luxembourg. Business decisions will be made from the top down and during a private discussion.
  • Because Luxembourgers are extremely careful and analytical in decision making, the negotiation process will likely take quite a bit of time.

Now that you're well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to Luxembourg, don't forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!

Au revoir! (‘‘Goodbye!” in French)

Auf Wiedersehen! (‘‘Goodbye!” in German)

Awar! (‘‘Goodbye!” in Luxembourgish)

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