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Spain: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Spain

It's important to understand the language nuances in Spain. While many Spanish business people speak English or French, knowing Spanish or having an interpreter is imperative. In Barcelona, Catalan is often used in a business setting among native speakers, showing strong regional pride.

When greeting business acquaintances, you usually shake hands; although in a more casual setting, you will probably be greeted with double kisses and a hug. For ladies, expect two kisses (right cheek followed by left) whereas men may just receive a quick hug or handshake from the same gender.

Formal wear is the norm and both men and women. Men usually wear a jacket and a tie to business meetings, although in summer this is more relaxed. Businesswomen tend to wear dresses, blouses and skirts. Scruffiness is frowned upon.

Business cards are usually exchanged after introduction. All Spaniards have two family names - only the first is used in conversation, but any academic or professional titles should be acknowledged.

In Barcelona, invitations to homes are not common and clients or business associates tend to be invited out, usually to pre-dinner drinks and tapas or dinner. In Madrid, breakfast meetings are also popular.

Office Hours

In Barcelona, Seville and Granada, business hours are generally 0800/0900-1800/1900, with an extended lunch break from 1330-1500/1600. In Santiago de Compostela and Malaga, office hours are generally 0900-1400 and 1700-2000. Banks usually open until 1400/1500 hours.

In Madrid, standard business hours are Monday to Friday 0900-1400 and 1600-1900, although 0800-1500 is quite common during summer. Larger companies and multinationals, however, are increasingly working through the day, in line with the rest of Europe.


The economy in Spain has grown steadily for the past few years while the country's borrowing costs have consistently declined. This is largely due to its vast tourism industry, an active construction sector and a rise in public expenditure.

The service sector contributes to 74% of GDP and tourism is the country's leading industry. In 2018, a total of 82.8 million people visited Spain, that is over 36 million more than the country's entire population.

The industrial sector accounts for 23% of GDP with manufacturing as the most important industry. Textiles and apparel (including footware), industrial food processing, metals, chemicals to name but a few have demonstrated strong growth potential.

Agriculture contributes to around 3% of GDP. Spain is the world's largest producer or olive oil and the world's third largest producer of wine. The country also exports grain, vegetables, sugar beets and citrus to Europe and beyond.


US$1.311 trillion (2017).

Main exports

Machinery, motor vehicles, food, pharmaceuticals and medicines.

Main imports

Machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, semi-finished goods and food.

Main trading partners

France, Germany, Italy, UK and Portugal.

Keeping in Touch in Spain


With mobile phones so widely used by locals and tourists alike, public payphones are no longer widely available in towns and cities. In the event that you need to use a payphone, you can purchase a telephone card from a grocery store.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good throughout most of the country. It is relatively easy to get a mobile phone to use temporarily in Spain. Most service providers like Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica offer prepaid SIM cards (that include data roaming). Spanish mobile numbers begin with 6.


Wi-Fi is ubiquitous across much of Spain, and is often available free of charge in hotels, restaurants and other establishments. Internet cafés are available in most urban areas.


Broadcasting in Spain has witnessed a spectacular expansion in recent years with the emergence of new commercial operators and the launch of digital services. The main TV broadcaster is the state-owned TVE which operates TV-1 and TV-2. Antena 3, La Cuatro, Telecinco and La Sexta are privately run channels.

English language papers include:
• Metropolitan in Barcelona and Madrid
• The Ibizan in Ibiza
• The Olive Press in Andalucia


There are efficient internal and international postal services to all countries from Spain. The postal service is generally cheap and efficient. The main postal company in Spain is Correos, but there are also private companies like Fedex and Sears for express delivery service. Airmail within Europe usually takes around five days.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-2000 and Sat 0800-1400.

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