Business Cards: A Universal Language

Business cards are a universal language. All across the globe you will see that almost every country or culture practices the exchange of business cards. There are some differences in the textual content you place on your card and how you present it, but there are very little restrictions spoken about design and style. So one could be full of color and elements whereas one may just consist of a logo and text, both being equally appropriate. However, it makes sense that the more conservative a culture is in a particular region the more important it is to be conservative in your design. And although there are some small differences in how you design and present your business card, it is clear by the sample of regional designs below that business cards are pretty much the same everywhere.

As an example of the differences in textual content, in some countries where people have strong beliefs in hierarchy, there is an important emphasis placed on titles and exactly what contact details you have on your card. Also, in many places your card should be two sided, one side with your English contact information and the other side should consist of a translation of your English contact information to the accepted language of your destination. This is a very common practice and an important feature that should not be overlooked.

The differences are not only in design, there are also variations when it comes to business card etiquette or how the business card exchange actually takes place. In many places it is appropriate to present your business card with two hands, while in other places there is no formal ritual. Additionally, there are acceptable times and locations for presenting your card, for example, it might be at the beginning or end of a meeting, and only in formal settings.

The following designs and information provide great insight into designing and presenting your business card. However, if you plan on visiting a specific region it would be wise to do some background research on etiquette as there can be many nuances outside of the scope of this article as far as content or layout that can be critical to the impression you make.


china-flagChina

chinese business card

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As you can see from the design that the card is relatively simple, it features a logo with textual content. In China, your business card is exchanged upon meeting an individual. The card should be presented with two hands. When you have a two sided business card, one side should be printed in Chinese with the simplified version of characters, and English text on the other side. You should present the card with the Chinese side up.

japanese flagJapan

japanese business card

The Japanese business card or meishi, is designed very similar to a Chinese business card. It features some content and a small logo, with Japanese on one side and English on the other. The Katakana writing system is considered standard for text on the Japanese side. Upon an introduction and after bowing, business cards are exchanged by holding the card with two hand and presenting it with the Japanese side showing.

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france flagFrance

french business card

There are no set formalities when it comes to business card design or etiquette in France. It is appreciated when you have your business contact information in French on one side and English on the other. Many people choose to have their family name in a pronounced way on the design, but overall as with most business card designs a logo and textual content is fine.

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greece flagGreece

greek business card

Designing your Greek business card is very similar to many of the Eurasian countries, have your business card with Greek lettering on one side and English on the other. It is also good practice to present your card with the Greek content facing up, but outside of that there are no formal rituals or design standards required.

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south africa flagSouth Africa

south african business card

As you can see from this design having a nice business card that is modern is acceptable. There are many languages in South Africa so there is no set etiquette for a particular language. Some traditions in the past may have suggested that business cards were not necessary, but you will find more and more places today that suggest that presenting a business card is fine, and there is no type of formal ritual for presenting that card.

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australia flagAustralia

australia business card

This design shows that Australian business cards are similar in design to anything you may find in the U.S., and a large portion of the population speaks English so whether you have one or two sides printed English lettering is fine. There is also no formalities when exchanging business cards except that you may want to present it at the point of introduction and not to feel offended if the person you are meeting does not have one.

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saudi arabia flagSaudi Arabia

saudi arabia business card

A business card with your logo and text is fine, but the text should be in Arabic on one side and English on the other. Also, when handing or exchanging business cards you should use your right hand. Professionalism and business cards go hand-in-hand so having a briefcase or business card holder is considered appropriate.

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south korea flagSouth Korea

south korea business card

There is no design restrictions in South Korea so a colored logo and text is fine, however, business cards are considered an extension of the person and should be treated as such. South Koreans believe strongly in hierarchical structure so displaying a title is important. There should be Korean text on one side and English on the other, and your business card should be presented with two hands if possible.

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italy flagItaly

italian business card

As with almost all business card designs in foreign countries, there are no design limitations as far as style, color, and text. It is well received if your card details are translated on one side into Italian and English on the other. Business cards should only be presented in a business setting, in informal settings many Italians use the much simpler and more personal calling cards.

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egypt flagEgypt

egypt business card

There are no formal rituals with presenting your business card in Egypt and there are no design restrictions as seen with this modern and stylish business card. It is important however to translate one side of your business card in Arabic and have the other side in English.

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turkey flagTurkey

turkey business card

Business cards are common in Turkey and designs are not limited in color or style. If possible, it is a good idea to present your card with two hands, and writing should be in Turkish on one side and English on the other.

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ireland flagIreland

ireland business card

There are no formal rituals for handing out a business card in Ireland as well as your design can be printed in any style and color. There is also no need to print one of your sides in Gaelic as most people in Ireland speak English.

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spain flagSpain

spain business card

There are no specifications as to designing your business card in Spain with the only exception being that you print your contact details in Spanish on one side and English on the other, and it is preferred to hand the card with the Spanish side visible. In Spain they do have a much simpler social card which is used for informal gatherings.

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brazil flagBrazil

brazil business card

Business cards in Brazil can be as stylish and colorful as you wish. The important requirement is that you have English on one side and Portuguese on the other, and when presenting your card have the Portuguese side face up.

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argentina flagArgentina

argentina business card

There are no formal rituals with presenting your business card and no design limitations. It is well received if you have English on one side and Spanish on the other. It is also a good decision to present your business card with the Spanish side showing.

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new zealand flagNew Zealand

new zealand business card

There is no ceremony required when presenting your business card and designs are not limited in any way. Just have plenty of business cards to hand out to everybody in the meeting.

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mexico flagMexico

mexico business card

As with almost all Spanish speaking cultures having Spanish text on one side and English on the other is appropriate in Mexico. Although business cards are widely used there is not standard protocol for presenting your business card and your design can be created in any way you see fit.

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indonesia flagIndonesia

indonesia business card

As it is pretty apparent designing your Indonesian business card is pretty open as with all cultures. It is a good idea to print one side in English and the other side translate your information into Bahasa Indonesian or Chinese Indonesian depending on who you will be meeting with. One should also present the business card with two hands if possible.

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great britian flagUK

uk business card

There are no formal rituals for handing out business cards in the UK, it could either be in the beginning or the end of a meeting. Designs are not limited in any way and the only real requirement is to have a business card in good condition. You should also not be upset if some people do not have a business card.

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united states flagU.S.

united states business card

Handing out a business card in the U.S. is unique simply because there are so many diverse cultures and people. With that said, most people understand that in the U.S. people are very free with giving business cards. There is almost no set timing to give your business card, it could be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a meeting. Designs also vary greatly in style and type as you are usually always dealing with a lot of competition, so it is wise to hand out a very sophisticated card such as a plastic business card to make an impression although a large part of the population still stick to a standard paper business card.

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As you can see business cards continue to be a universal language. Although you may find little differences in design and etiquette, overall people rely on business cards to introduce themselves and their company, and hopefully make a positive and lasting impression.

Jason Smith

Jason Smith

Media Relations Manager at 1800businesscards
Jason Smith has been working in media relations for the last ten years and is an expert in many aspects of both the production and distribution of online printing products.
Jason Smith

Published by

Jason Smith

Jason Smith has been working in media relations for the last ten years and is an expert in many aspects of both the production and distribution of online printing products.