Etiquette in Spain

Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.  Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe.  There are over 47 million people who reside in Spain.  This is a country of mountains and valleys with beautiful countrysides.  Spain has held a position of political, historical, and cultural importance in Europe for a long time.

Spanish is the most spoken language, but a majority of Spaniards speak Catalan or Gallego. Catalan, which is modern standard Spanish, is just as commonly spoken as Spanish.

A vast majority of the population practices Roman Catholicism. The rest of the population practices Protestantism, Judaism, or Islam.

The currency in Spain used to be pesetas, but now, the currency used is euros.

Spain is 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

Spain: Meeting and Greeting

When doing business meetings in Spain, the initial greetings are very formal with confident handshakes and direct eye contact. While shaking hands, it is important to say “Buenos días/tardes/noches” meaning, “Good morning/afternoon/evening or night.” When departing from the business meeting, shaking hands is popular, but are not essential.

In social settings, male friends often give each other a big hug with a great deal of backslapping and women will kiss men and women on both cheeks.

Among the Spaniards, personal space is very small. The Spaniards like to get up close and will make frequent physical contact. If it makes you uncomfortable or if you are a low-contact person, do not back away. They will think you are being shy and will quickly close the gap again. If you continue to back away, they will think that you are being unfriendly and will take offense to your actions.

Most Spaniards have two last names which will be hyphenated. The first is always the father’s name and the second will be the mother’s maiden name. When speaking, only address them by the father’s last name, but when writing to them; be sure to include the full name. Do not address them by their first name unless you have been invited to do so. When you have developed a relationship, be sure to add Don for a man and Doña for a woman in front of their first names for respect (for example, “Don Jose” or “Doña Maria”).

Spain also has one of the most flexible attitudes toward time in the world. Trains and buses seem to work on their own time, and it is common to arrive half an hour late for social events. Spanish government, or anything involving official documentation, is usually prolonged. In order to enjoy your visit, as well as the meeting, do not fight their timing.

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