Portugal flag Portugal: Entorn econòmic

Pràctiques empresarials a Portugal

Opening hours and bank holidays

General information
Global Affairs Canada, Cultural Information - Portugal
Commisceo Global, Business culture seen by Commisceo Global
E-Diplomat, Business culture seen by E-Diplomat
Closed hours and days
Businesses are closed between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. (for lunch), on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Banks typically close at 3:00 p.m., while shops close at 7:00 p.m. Hypermarkets close at 12:00 midnight from Monday to Saturday, but will also close at 12:00 on Sundays in November and December.
 
 
 

Public holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent) (though not compulsory, all companies and public and private organisations take the day as a holiday) March/April
Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) March/April
Freedom Day 25 April
Labour Day 1 May
National Day 10 June
Corpus Christi June
Saint Anthony (in Lisbon and some other smaller cities) 13 June
Saint John (in Porto, Braga and some other smaller cities) 24 June
Assumption 15 August
Birth of the Republic 5 October
All Saints 1 November
Independence Day 1 December
Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas 25 December, (while 24 December is not a public holiday, is considered to be one by decision of the Council of Ministers every year)
 
Compendation day
Consult the Portugal Employment Reform.
 

Periods when companies usually close

There are not many periods when companies close in Portugal. The Administration and companies are always open, with most staff and management present.
 

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Portuguese business culture bears some of the characteristics of Mediterranean business culture but can be slightly different at times. It is characterised by a distinct relationship-based tradition. The family has been the backbone of the country's social order for centuries. Family members care for each other, to a degree that loyalty towards the family comes before loyalty towards business. The Roman Catholic Church has also shaped work ethics and influenced the hierarchical structure of many Portuguese firms, where age and seniority are respected.

As most companies are hierarchical, decisions are mostly made from the top down. Authority and responsibility are concentrated in the person at the top. Nevertheless, managers will avoid direct conflict with staff members by addressing their concerns and being considerate of possible personal problems. While low-rank employees may be consulted, the management will not necessarily seek to reach a consensus. Decision-making is a very long process in Portugal and managers will go through all the details before giving a final answer. However, once a decision has been reached, it is rarely amended and the terms of a deal are fully enforced.

Portuguese professionals are very relationship-oriented. Strong and long-standing relationships are considered crucial, not just among partners, but also within a company. It is important to take time to get to know Portuguese contacts and best to avoid showing a fake interest just to approach them. Despite being considerate planners, the Portuguese can also engage in business based on whether they like their foreign counterpart or not. Furthermore, establishing a personal relationship gives Portuguese business contacts a sense of security and assurance that they will not be misled or cheated.
First contact
Meetings should be arranged a month ahead of time and reconfirmed a few days before. It is recommended to avoid setting up an initial meeting in June (when there are many public holidays), August (school holidays) and December (Christmas and the end of the financial year). Face-to-face meetings are always preferred over conference calls and e-mails. The first meeting usually allows parties to get to know each other and establish a certain level of trust. While most Portuguese are proficient in English, it is courteous to ask before the meeting if an interpreter is necessary.
Time Management
The Portuguese have a loose sense of time; however not to the same extent as most other Mediterranean countries. Foreign business contacts are expected to show up on time to meetings, even when their Portuguese counterparts may be late. If you are running late, it is recommended to phone your contact and inform them of your delay.  Meetings may have agendas, but they are mostly used to introduce or raise a topic and do not necessarily serve the purpose of a schedule.
Greetings and Titles
Handshakes (more on the relaxed side) are the most common form of greeting. It is customary to let the woman extend her hand first. Close business associates (especially women greeting women or greetings between men and women) can also greet each other with a light kiss on the cheek. Titles can be quite important, especially during the initial stages of contact with Portuguese associates. It is recommended to address people by using Mr. or Mrs. followed by the surname (Senhor is for Mr., Senhora is Mrs.). In Portugal, it is customary to refer to university graduates as "Dr" (doutor), or "Dra" (doutora, for women) before the family name. It is recommended to wait for the Portuguese counterpart to tell if it is OK to call them by their first name.
Gift Policy
Gifts are not necessarily exchanged between business associates; however, it is not too uncommon to exchange small gifts after an initial meeting or at the end of a successful negotiation. It is advisable to bring gifts that are representative of your country. Gifts are usually opened immediately. If invited to a Portuguese home, it is recommended to bring liquor, flowers or a box of chocolates.
Dress code
Business dress code is rather formal for both genders. Men are expected to wear conservative dark coloured suits with shirt and tie whereas stylish business suits or dresses and blouses are acceptable for women. Casual attire is not common, even in modern and creative industries. Being well-groomed and stylish is regarded as sign of prestige.
Business Cards
There is no protocol surrounding the exchange of business cards. Cards are usually exchanged after the first meeting. It is always best to treat cards with respect.
Meetings Management
Getting down to business can take a quite bit of time and the first meeting is usually kept for parties to get to know each other. It is not recommended to push for a decision right from initial meetings. Small talk, especially on your first impressions of Portugal and the Portuguese culture, is expected and appreciated.

The Portuguese tend to be very thorough and are known to have an eye for detail, therefore they are careful and considerate planners. In addition to facts and figures, Portuguese associates are likely to ask detailed questions about the delivery times, currency and payment terms. They are also likely to take into account short-term and long-term influences and developments and it is important that you have explored all possibilities and scenarios before finishing your presentation/submitting a proposal. The Portuguese may be less keen on radical or unconventional solutions than elsewhere in Europe (especially Northern Europe). Written documentation is very common in Portugal and it is recommended to bring handouts to meetings.

In contrast to Spain and some other Mediterranean countries, people in Portugal use less gesticulation when talking. They also tend to remain calm and avoid emotional outbursts. The Portuguese communicate rather directly; however, they will remain polite while doing so. It is important to remain courteous but also patient as meetings are seen as an opportunity for everyone to comment. Hard sell tactics and confrontation are to be avoided at all costs. Interrupting someone is quite common as many people can speak at once during meetings.

Business lunches and dinners are quite common and are seen as an opportunity to get to know the other party. Meals tend to be very long (two hours or more) and less formal than office meetings. It is not customary to discuss business during meals, unless the host raises the subject.
Sources for Further Information
Culture Crossing - Portugal Business Culture Cultural Atlas - Business etiquette in Portugal Business Culture - Business etiquette in Portugal Expatica - Business culture in Portugal Global Affairs Canada - Portuguese Business Culture

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