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Whole books could be (and indeed have been) written about business practices in South East Asia and the correct methods of exchanging business cards. A quick search on the internet will provide you with hundreds of sites offering information about proper Japanese business etiquette, what to do and what not to do in China, and 101 ways to succeed in Korea.

Whilst some of this information is undoubtedly useful, we believe that it is not necessary for the Western businessman to fully understand and practice all the complicated rituals of exchanging business cards, as long as the basic rules are followed:


  • Exchange business cards at the beginning of your meeting: consider it as part of your greeting when you first meet your Asian counterparts.
  • Bow slightly and present your business card with both hands, the non-English side up.
  • You should receive other people's business cards the same way: with both hands, bowing slightly.
  • Study the other person's card for while, making a mental note of their name, and then put it away in a card holder. Alternatively, if there are a number of members present in your meeting, you can lay all the cards out on the table in front of you and leave them there until the end of the meeting.


  • Do not pass your business cards out as though you are dealing a deck of playing cards.
  • Do not take someone's business card, give it a cursory glance, and then stuff it away in your pocket to refer to later.
  • Do not keep taking people's business cards out to check their names. It is worth tryinig to remember their name when they give you their card: it is insulting if people cannot even remember your name when they are doing business with you.
  • Do not play or fiddle with people's business cards - treat them with respect. A Western businessman once famously lost a big deal for picking his teeth with one of his colleagues' business cards, and was never given the opportunity to do business with the company again.
  • Do not write on people's business cards (at least, not in front of them): it is considered a direct insult.


Japanese Business Cards
10a St Martin's Street, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 0AL
Tel: +44 (0)20 8816 8891
Email: info@japanese-business-cards.com