What to consider when doing business in Germany

Following on from our popular infographic ‘what to consider when doing business in France’ we have our next instalment, in the series, which looks at the cultural and language considerations to keep in mind when doing business in Germany.

If you’re planning market research or a new business venture in Germany, be sure to keep the below points in mind in order to maximise the success of your communication and make sure your first impression counts. As you’ll see below there are many aspects of the German culture which are different to those in the UK and definitely worth keeping in mind.

Language considerations

  • The length of the content is likely to increase by about 20-30%, as German words tend to be longer.
  • Unlike some other languages the German language has four noun cases.
  • Business etiquette and modes of address are very important. When communicating, it is the norm for everyone to address each other formally and by their surnames. First names are reserved for family and friends, however, it’s acceptable to address children informally.
  • The German language frequently creates new words as the grammar enables the creation of compound nouns. For example ‘rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften‘ is one word meaning ‘insurance companies providing legal protection’.

Cultural considerations

  • There are nine national holidays in Germany but some regions can have up to thirteen so it’s good to be aware of these and plan around them for resource availability.
  • It’s worth remembering for business meetings that Germans do not appreciate humour in a business context and do not indulge in small talk but their culture does prioritise forward thinking and planning. Do shake hands at the start and end of meetings and be polite throughout.
  • Time is managed carefully. Schedules and agendas must be adhered to. Turning up late for a meeting, even by a couple of minutes, is likely to cause offense. If you are running late it’s best to call ahead to explain the situation.
  • Business should be structured and follow regulations. They have a minimal degree of flexibility. It’s worth remembering that work and personal lives are clearly defined and kept separate.
  • In Germany environmental issues are taken very seriously. They promote energy efficiency and have become the world leader for wind energy. Unethical behaviour can reduce your chances of future business negotiations.
  • Dress code is important and business attire should be formal. It is polite not remove your tie or jacket before your German colleague does so.
  • Emails should be treated as a business letter, formal salutations and greetings should be included.Germany infographic

To Germany and beyond!

You’re in safe hands with The Language Factory as all our qualified German linguists are mother-tongue translators and have native-level knowledge of the cultural and language differences between English and German. If you have any further questions about doing business in any country please let us know and we’ll be happy to help. Call us on +44 1727 862722 or email us: enquiries@thelanguagefactory.co.uk.

Keep checking our blog and Twitter feed to see the next country in the series. If there’s a country you would like to hear about next, let us know!


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