Dutch Business Etiquette – Doing Business in the Netherlands

Dutch business etiquette

Dutch Business Etiquette – Doing Business in the Netherlands

Dutch Business Etiquette – Doing Business in the Netherlands

(Last Updated On: July 4, 2024)

In any culture, values are the foundation. These reflect how the citizen’s think about things and do things. Understanding the business etiquette is essential especially when it comes to opening communications with others, especially those of other nationalities. Problems might arise and might affect your relationship building with others if you ignore the issues equivalent to understanding attitudes and values. Cultural barrier is the most difficult aspect when dealing with a variety of nationalities and cultures.

Business etiquette in the Netherlands


Social Responsibility in the Office

The Netherlands, a populated country known for its strategic location, boasts the largest port in Europe. This limited company’s success within the Dutch economy relies on its international business ventures. The Dutch costume, a representation of traditional costumes, reflects the country’s rich heritage dating back to the 17th century. Despite environmental consciousness ingrained in the Dutch business climate, challenges persist, notably concerning water quality due to excess waste from the livestock business, impacting major waterways like the Maas, Rhine, and Scheldt estuary. This foreign company operating within the country must navigate these environmental concerns while embracing the opportunities presented by the Netherlands’ thriving international business landscape. Additionally, Dutch clothing industries continue to evolve within this dynamic environment.


If you are looking for people who are respectful of time, one of them are certainly the Dutch people. In business, they believe that punctuality is a fundamental virtue. For times that coming in late cannot be avoided, they appreciate calling them ahead. Apologies for late arrivals are kindly accepted, too. This is one point in the business etiquette you should keep in mind.

For dinner invitations, it is a good practice to ask the host about the time you should arrive. In that case, be prompt on your target time. The Dutch people are very time conscious and respectful, during business meetings; they usually assign ahead of time the chairperson who will ensure that the meeting is going smoothly and the timekeeper to remind everyone of the time being consumed.

Since the Dutch are an advocate of time respect, you usually can expect speedy delivery with commercial relationships. An example of these is quotations being sent promptly and delivery targets being kept.

Gift Giving

Dutch people are very fair-minded. They don’t expect to receive anything for services provided and vice versa. They do not like to feel being indebted and compelled.

With this, giving gifts is not very common in business transactions in Netherlands. If a business partner would like to give something out of good intentions and showing appreciation, a simple gift would do, anything extravagant would not mean that it will be highly appreciated. Neutrality is an important aspect, too – it is not advisable to put on your business card on the gift being given.

If you have been given a gift, it is a tradition to open it right away and show positive reception and gratitude. A number of Dutch companies usually offer year-end gifts, which must be acknowledged sincerely.

For home invitations of Dutch people, it is expected that the visitor would have to bring something for the host or hostess. Houseplants or flowers will be appropriate for the hostess, whereas wine will be very suitable for the host. You may also bring some chocolates, sweets or toys if they have children. For almost all European countries, they usually have practical rules on giving flowers and that is no carnations or chrysanthemums. Handwritten notes after the visit are always welcomed and appreciated. Just another rule in the business etiquette you should respect.

Dress Code in Business

The Dutch practice a conservative dress code in business. The following styles are usually followed per industry – in banking, they usually wear formal attire, in IT and entertainment sectors, they usually wear jeans paired with open-neck shirts. In the marketing and service industries, they usually wear colorful shirt or tie combinations. It is completely okay to wear jackets, but be sure to remove these while working. There is no particular color coding and combinations to be followed.

Younger generation of women usually wear trousers like trouser suits. If you are not sure about the event’s dress code, the general rule is to dress well rather than be under-dressed. Uniforms are not commonly worn since they are required only at the janitor level.

People usually wear a type of clothing by their means of transport. In places like Amsterdam, people usually use bicycle or travel by tram, thus, this affects their choices of clothing and style.

If you are up for a company visit, it is alright to ask company staff the type of dress code they usually wear. It is better to know in advance as it will help you to build your confidence as you talk with the people during your visit.

Bribery and corruption

The Dutch are challenging opponents in the international trade arena. Yet, with the tough competition they are into, they have been very well known for their honesty.

A law has been revised last February 2001 defining bribery offenses. The previous one only applies to local public servants but the revised one has a new article that broadened the law in inclusion of persons in the public service of a foreign state or international organizations, former and potential public servants, and judges of a foreign state or international organizations.

If you want to do business in the Netherlands you should be reading the above and get a grasp of the business etiquette in order to build up strong relationships with your Dutch partners.

Business Etiquette:          

There are many factors you need to consider when doing business in the Netherlands. But your top priority should be your business etiquettes. In order to establish your business in a new country, you have to tread lightly. Not only should you respect the local culture but also follow the list of business etiquette that is a norm in that country. If you don’t follow the Dutch business etiquette, your business can suffer in the following ways:

  • If you are not punctual in the Netherlands, you won’t be able to gain the respect of the natives. You will leave a bad impression on your potential business partners and your employees if you are late to meetings.
  • If you don’t follow the conservative dress code of the Netherlands, no one will take you seriously. The Dutch think that anyone who wants to succeed should dress like it. Because if someone can’t make an effort to dress properly, they aren’t serious about their business.
  • Importance of dressing in Dutch culture

    In Dutch business culture, dressing appropriately is considered a key aspect of professional etiquette, reflecting respect and seriousness in business relationships. While the Dutch often embrace a business casual dress code, it is essential to understand that this still implies a neat and polished appearance. The Dutch stakeholder model emphasizes collaboration and ethical business practices, and dressing well is seen as part of maintaining professional integrity and trust within the business community.

    For business negotiations and networking, wearing the right attire can influence first impressions and facilitate smoother interactions. When going on a business trip or attending corporate sector meetings, being mindful of Dutch business structures and strategies includes adhering to their sartorial norms. Historically, even trading companies like the Dutch East India Company recognized the importance of appropriate dress in establishing credibility and authority. Therefore, understanding and adopting the common business phrases and the expected dress code can significantly impact the success of business endeavors in the Netherlands.

    Business Attire in the Netherlands

    In the Netherlands, business attire plays a significant role in fostering professional relationships and establishing trust within the business sector. Embracing Dutch culture’s emphasis on professionalism, individuals are expected to dress neatly and conservatively, particularly during business trips, networking events, and negotiations.

    Common business phrases often reflect a preference for straightforward, clear communication, and this extends to their attire, which is typically business casual yet meticulously maintained. The Dutch model of ethical business practices and transparent business structures necessitates a polished appearance, whether one is part of a limited company, sole proprietorship, or any other legal entity.

    For trading companies and those navigating various business strategies, aligning with the expected dress code can enhance credibility and facilitate smoother interactions. Understanding the importance of appropriate business attire in Dutch culture, even when filling out an application form or engaging in everyday business activities, is crucial for establishing and maintaining successful business relationships.

    Casual Attire in the Netherlands

    Casual attire in the Netherlands reflects the country’s cultural emphasis on practicality, comfort, and simplicity. Dutch people generally prefer a neat, understated look that balances casualness with a sense of style. While the dress code may be relaxed, it is still expected that clothes are clean, well-fitted, and appropriate for the occasion.

    In everyday settings, such as social gatherings, outings, or informal business environments, you’ll often see individuals wearing jeans, casual shirts, and comfortable shoes. Layers are also common due to the variable weather. Despite the casual approach, there is an unspoken adherence to quality and functionality in clothing choices. This reflects the broader Dutch values of moderation and sensibility, where even casual attire should convey a sense of respect for oneself and others.



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