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Mexico City - Local Customs

Business Etiquette  

  • Mexicans are warm, friendly people in general, so don’t be afraid to approach someone to ask for directions or information. Languages like Portuguese and Italian are easily understood, and many people speak at least a little bit of English.
    Handshakes are perfectly acceptable when two people meet. Also, a kiss on the cheek is customary when two women meet, or between a woman and a man who have known each other for a while. It is normal for male friends to greet each other with a hug.
    Mexicans open up to people rather fast, in comparison to other cultures, so it is not strange that someone you just met asks personal questions, like your marital status, number of children (or even if and when you are planning to have them), and so on.
    Mexican men are very courteous and complimentary towards women.
  • In Mexico City, offices usually open Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to 5:30pm, but in the fast-paced and competitive corporate environment, people tend to stay longer until around 7:30pm. Most people leave for lunch around 2:00 pm and take 1-2 hours.
  • The business dress code in Mexico City is suits and ties for men, skirt/trousers and blazers for women. For outdoor events (picnics, luncheons, etc.) dress casually. But leave shorts, tennis shoes, flip-flops, and other informal dress items for your beach vacations! Many businesses provide the female employees with their dresses.
  • If you plan to conduct business, be patient in understanding the Mexican business culture. Mexicans feel impolite saying "No" to an invitation or to a meeting. They will usually say "Yes" and you will not know whether they are actually showing up or not until the last minute. So be sure to confirm attendance to meetings, appointments and parties one or two days beforehand. When someone says, "I'll really try to be there", it means,"I'm not coming".
    When people are not interested, they will not turn you down flat. Some people will look interested in the first contact meeting, and then won't take your calls again, with polite excuses, or will say, "We'll call you and let you know." to avoid your future calls.
    Business is commonly done at breakfast/lunch/dinner dates. In business situations, it is impolite to split the bill; the person making the sale  is expected to pay. The expected tip for waiters is 10% or more.
    There is also another kind of client, who will receive you in his office. He will  expect you to show up on time, but  will keep you a long time in a waiting area before finally receiving you. Your patience in waiting, is a sign that you are seriously interested in conducting business with the company he works for.
  • It is important to develop a good rapport with a Mexican customer, but most important is to gain his/her trust. Once this trust is established, however, it is essential to deliver as promised. Never let down a Mexican who trusts you, customer or supplier. After all, Mexicans are generous and spend money on their business contacts.
  • Appointments and informal enquiries can be done by telephone, but deals are always closed in person. Spoken commitments are not binding, it is always best to confirm everything in writing.
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