Welcome to Bermuda!
Bermuda brings to mind the ideal island getaway—beautiful beaches, turquoise oceans, and palm trees. The British Overseas Territory is probably best known for its tourism, attracting over half a million visitors every year. In addition to tourism, insurance and reinsurance is a top industry in Bermuda, having a consumption tax instead of an income tax, making it a hot spot for international finance. In fact, Bermuda had one of the world’s highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century.
Whether you plan on doing some business during your vacation, or some vacationing during your business trip, why not learn a little about the dos and don’ts of Bermuda business etiquette.
- English is the primary and official language of Bermuda, although a significant portion of the population speaks Portuguese.
- Bermuda is an archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean. The capital city is Hamilton, and the climate is subtropical.
- Approximately 65,000 people live in Bermuda, more than half of whom identify with a sect of Christianity.
- The government is a “parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy.”
- The currency is the Bermudian dollar, which depicts the image of Queen Elizabeth II, and is pegged to the US dollar. US currency is interchangeable on the island.
- Because of the hot climate, Bermuda shorts are considered acceptable business attire for both men and women. Although in the rest of the world these shorts are considered casual, in Bermuda they are usually considered formal as long as worn with a collared shirt and business jacket.
- It is also acceptable to wear traditional business attire. Colorful clothing is welcome in the workplace.
- Although many restaurants are located near the beach, shirts and shoes are required. Restaurants expect customers to dress “smart-casual,” with a collared shirt, long pants, and no sandals or bare feet.
MAKE OR BREAK MEETINGS
- Bermuda might be a vacation destination, but if you’re there on business, be on your best behavior. Punctuality is important to Bermudans, so make sure to arrive at the scheduled time.
- Always greet people with a friendly “good day” before you start a business meeting. Bermudans are very polite and it is considered rude not to greet each other.
- Address your colleagues as Mr. or Mrs/Ms. and their last name when you first meet. It is likely that they will allow you to use their first name, but wait until they give the OK.
- Many customs have been brought over from British rule and American tourism. Dining etiquette in Bermuda is similar, but Bermudans are known for their manners. Be very polite while you’re eating out.
- Much of the food in Bermuda is imported, but there is also a plethora of local dishes offered. Make sure to try the seafood and the home-made beverages.
- Tipping is expected in Bermuda, and typically already included in the bill. Make sure to look over the bill so that you don’t tip twice, but feel free to leave more if the service was worth it.
DOWN TO BUSINESS
- Business cards are treated with the utmost respect. You are expected to give and receive business cards, and do not crumple or lose the card.
- Be respectful of personal space. There is no specific protocol for personal space or eye contact, but Bermudans tend to maintain their space.
- Remember to greet everyone, even the cleaning person or coffee boy. It is considered very rude not to greet people, even strangers.
- Casual conversation is best. Avoid sensitive matters and if one comes up, remain diplomatic and polite.
Now that you’re well prepared to set sail for your business trip to Bermuda, don’t forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!