Helpful Tips for Doing Business in the Philippines

Although English is the business language in the Philippines, knowing the country's business and cultural practices will help you when doing business. 

Business in the Philippines 

It is important to be on time to business meetings in the Philippines. It is expected that international visitors will be on time to business appointments. Social occasions, however, don't usually start at the stated time. A good rule of thumb is to arrive 15 to 30 minutes after the starting time of a social event.

Here are some important facts and tips for doing business in the Philippines: 

  • Business hours are 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Some offices are open from 8.00 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays.
  • Offices are closed during lunch breaks, which are usually between 12.00 and 1.00.
  • Hand shaking is common in the Philippines, and visiting businesspeople are expected to shake hands with their Filipino contacts. A man meeting a Filipino woman should wait for her to offer her hand.
  • Try to stay relaxed, calm. Don't rush and speak loudly. Negotiations in the Philippines will usually take longer than in countries such as the US and Australia.
  • Socializing is a big part of developing business relationships in the Philippines. If possible, never reject an invitation to a social event.
  • Business cards can be in English and don't need to be in Filipino, the local language.
  • When concluding a business deal, invite your partners to a restaurant for a meal to celebrate. The person inviting is expected to pay.
  • Gifts are an important part of Filipino culture. Gifts might include flowers or food. Bring a gift (such as flowers or candy) if invited to a Filipino home, but don't bring alcohol or savory food.
  • When visiting for the Philippines for business, dress conservatively until you know the level of formality expected. For men, this is a suit and tie. For women, a light-colored blouse with a dark business suit or skirt is recommended.

Doing business in the growing Philippines market can be very rewarding. Despite conducting business in English, the Philippines has its own customs and culture that need to be considered and respected.


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