Chile flag Chile: Business Environment

Business Practices in Chile

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global Chile, Chilean business culture as per Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Banks: Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Public administrations: from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Businesses in the town centre: from Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Small businesses of district: from Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Shopping centres: from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Supermarkets: every day from 8.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.

Public Holidays

New Year 1 January
Good Friday Varies
May Day (Labour Day) 1 May
Navy Day 21 May
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul 29 June
Feast of the Assumption 15 August
Independence Day of Chile and Army Day 18 and 19 September
Race Day 12 October
Reformation Day 31 October
All Saints Day 1 November
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas 25 December

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas, New Year and summer vacation period Businesses slow down during the summer and for a period from the end of December and the middle of February.

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Family and national identity are key values in Chile. Personal honour is highly valued and protected. Chileans are also known for working 12-hour days and six-day weeks.

Hierarchy in Chile tends to be vertical, and the decision-making process is done by senior managers, although middle-level executives may become involved during subsequent meetings. Observing the chain of command is important when dealing with Chilean companies.

Personal relationships are essential to doing business in Chile. Introductions from banks and consulting firms may facilitate business negotiations. Family and friendships also play an important role in establishing trust.

First Contact
It is preferable to first make acquaintance with the top of the company hierarchy. One should always go through the secretary, who acts as the boss' gatekeeper. Emails are used but not quickly responded to. It is preferable to conduct business face-to-face rather than over the telephone or by email. The months of January and February are the summer holidays and it can be difficult to plan a meeting during this period.
Time Management
It is important to be on time, but Chilean counterparts may be 15 minutes late.
Greetings and Titles
First contact in Chile is usually quite formal, but but can become warmer afterwards. You should expect to greet with a handshake when first meeting or a hug/kiss to the right cheek if meeting a known acquaintance. In a group situation, it is polite to shake everyone's hand. Address a counterpart by his or her surname preceded by Mister, Madam or Miss. Most Hispanics have two surnames, but only the father's name is usually used.
Gift Policy
Business gifts are not expected before a relationship has been established, and expensive, flashy presents can make people uneasy. It is best to choose conservative gifts such as leather-bound agendas, quality pens, lighters, office accessories or liquor; expect any gift to be opened immediately.
Dress Code
Dress codes are usually formal and conservative: suit and tie for men and a business suit for women. Men tend to wear their suit jackets when leaving the office, even if only for lunch. The dress code is less formal outside major cities.
Business Cards
In general, business cards are given to everyone at the beginning of a meeting. It is useful to have business cards printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other.
Meetings Management
A light conversation usually precedes getting down to business. You should expect small talk before starting a presentation.

When presenting, any pressure tactic must be avoided as negotiations are often carried out more slowly than in Europe or North America. As not all Chilean businesspeople speak English, it is appreciated to be able to speak Spanish.  Accepting compromise shows that we value the relationship more than the financial aspects of the agreement. Also, make sure to always get written agreements as confirmation of what was negotiated. Contracts must be witnessed by a public notary to be valid.

Communication is usually indirect. Emotions and feelings are not hidden. A professional business attitude with a bit of humour is appreciated. One must expect to be interrupted, which is not considered rude, but a way to show interest and enthusiasm. Establishing constant eye contact is important. Feelings and emotions play an important role in negotiation. Communication tends to involve more physical contact than in most Western countries, and distance between people when talking is closer.

Business lunches are long and paid for by whoever invited. European-style table manners are used. Both hands must always be kept above the table, not on your lap. Conversation is also expected from guests after a meal is finished. Avoid topics such as comparing Chile to the U.S., politics or human rights. Also, favour conversations on family life.

Sources for Further Information
Doing Business in Chile Chilean Culture

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Latest Update: July 2024