Etiquette in Argentina

With a population of over 41 million people, Argentina is the second largest country in South America. With most of the country’s inhabitants in 10 major metropolitan areas, only 1 in 10 live in rural communities. Approximately 3 million people live in Buenos Aires, the capital city.

Spanish is the official language, but it should be noted that Argentine Spanish is heavily influenced by Italian and is unlike the Spanish spoken throughout other countries in Latin America. There are many people that speak English, Italian, or other languages.

The government of Argentina is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Argentina is both head of state and head of government.

There is an official separation of church and state, however, about 90% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.

The peso is the currency of Argentina, identified by the symbol $. It is divided into 100 centavos.

Handshakes and nods are appropriate for greetings.

Friends and acquaintances embrace and kiss on the cheek.

Anticipate that Argentines will stand close when speaking.

The hand gestures for okay and thumbs up are rude.

Except when greeting close friends, you should shake hands briefly and nod. Close male friends may shake hands or embrace. Men greeting close female friends and close female friends greeting each other usually kiss each other.

Since only children, close friends, and family address each other by first name, use title and surname to address the people you meet. Most Hispanics have two surnames, one from their mother and father, but it is common to address someone using only their first (or father’s) surname. If a person has a professional title, it is important to address him or her with that title.

Maintaining eye contact is extremely important and you should be prepared for very little personal space, as Argentines tend to stand very close to one another during conversation.

Business is relationship-driven. Expect to invest time in your connection with business people. Show concern for others and build trust in your relationship.

Deals are usually made at the top level of an organization.

Anticipate tough negotiations with Argentines.

Business pace is slower than in the United States and meetings can linger if they are going well.

Confirm business meetings one week in advance.

If you are invited into an Argentine’s home, good gifts include pastries, flowers, or candy, chocolates or imported liquor.

Expensive gifts may be interpreted as bribes.

Dress well to make a good impression. Women tend to dress with flair.

Don’t try to pour wine; it’s a complicated ritual in Argentina.

Being on time for social visits is considered rude. Arrive half an hour to an hour late.

Be on time for soccer, the theater, lunch appointments.

Don’t discuss Great Britain or the Falkland Islands. Avoid discussing the Peróns.

Don’t yawn or stretch in public – these gestures are considered rude.

In Argentina, cleaning up your spill on someone else’s clothes isn’t just rude, it is a safety concern. It is a common tactic for thieves to approach you to ‘clean up’ bird droppings on your clothes, as a distraction from pickpocketing. Remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

Bad posture, including slouching, standing overly relaxed or leaning, is considered rude. It is also best not to stand with your hands in your pockets.

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