12 Etiqutte Tips for Doing Business in Canada

Canada Business Etiquette
Canada is multicultural, so it's no surprise that the business culture blends Britain, American, and French influences. Canadians value justice, equality, and respect. Business communication and dress code are formal and conservative.

1. Canada Is Not America

American vs Canadian business etiquette
American vs. Canadian business etiquette

Canada and America share a border, a language, and some cultural similarities, but that’s where the similarities end.

Canadians have a different outlook on life than US citizens, and their culture reflects this. They don’t like confrontation or competition; they value peace and harmony. You’ll find a stronger sense of community and cooperation here than in American business culture.

2. Be Punctual

A good first impression is critical, and being on time is a big part of it. Punctuality means arriving on time but not too early. Arriving too early can be interpreted as a lack of respect for the person’s time. If you’re late for an appointment, call and apologize.

3. Dress In Conservative Attire

Canadian business clothes are conservative. For men, this means a suit and tie. Women should wear suits or conservative dresses. Startups, rural communities, and technology companies are the exceptions, and business casual is acceptable.

The prevailing weather determines what people should wear. In the winter, heavy coats and scarves are standard. In the summer, lightweight clothing is more common. Social gathering dress code is casual.

4. Business Meetings Etiquette

Business meetings start on time with handshakes and introductions. A brief small talk follows before the meeting begins. Set agendas and timelines are adhered to.

Present your case professionally and use facts and figures to support your arguments. Active listening and direct eye contact show interest. Everyone in the meeting should contribute to the discussion.

If your meeting is in Quebec, remember that French is the preferred business language. If you don’t speak French, bring a translator.

5. Business cards

Business cards exchange happens after introductions. There are no rules on how to give or receive one. Canada is bilingual, so it’s good practice to present a card printed in English and French.

6. Relaxed Hierarchy

The management style is easygoing and friendly. Managers consult with employees, and everyone has a say in decision-making.

A relaxed hierarchy can be challenging, but you can use it to your advantage by:

  • Being respectful and polite to everyone
  • Listening to everyone’s opinion and taking it into account
  • Making sure everyone participates in meetings

7. Rapid Negotiations

The “time is money” philosophy is very much alive in Canada. Canadians are often quick to make decisions, and negotiations can be fast-paced. If your meeting is for a small deal, it’s possible to seal it in the first meeting.

Larger business deals can take longer because the parties will have to go through several stages of negotiation. During negotiations, ensure that:

  • You use facts, figures, and statistics to support your arguments
  • You are assertive and confident
  • You’re honest about your intentions

8. Socializing Over Dinner Or Lunch

Business lunches and dinners are a common way to build relationships. Being punctual is important, as is showing up dressed appropriately. Dining habits are relaxed and follow continental style. The meal is served with a knife and fork.

9. Gender Equality in Business

Gender equality in Canadian businesses
Gender equality in Canadian businesses

In 2021, 47.2% of the labor force in Canada were women. The government encourages equal opportunities for both men and women and has implemented policies that support this.

The gender pay gap in 2021 was 0.89 despite a higher number of women pursuing higher education. Gender equality is a legal and ethical requirement that must be demonstrated in all organizations.

10. Giving Gifts

Business gifts should be small tokens given after signing agreements. Appropriate gifts include flowers, chocolate, and gifts from your country. Opening a gift in front of the giver is common.

11. Build Professional Relationships

Canadians value their privacy and prefer to build professional relationships over personal ones. Sharing personal life with business associates or colleagues is rare. Small talk about sports and the weather are common topics for conversation.

12. Communication And Language

There are two communication patterns; anglophone and francophone. Anglophones speak English, while francophones speak the French language.

Formal communication is standard in business meetings and emails. It’s common to use proper titles like Mr., Mrs., and Ms. It is polite to address the person you are speaking with as “Sir,” “Ma’am,” or “Madame/Monsieur.

Verbal communication is indirect. This helps in avoiding conflicts and maintaining relationships. Interruptions are discouraged, but if you disagree, do it respectfully.

The most common non-verbal communication is eye contact because it implies honesty. But don’t do it for a long duration as it implies scrutiny.

Physical contact and gestures are rare and limited to people close to each other, especially with English-speaking Canadians. French Canadians use more gestures and physical contact.

What Is The Work Culture Like In Canada?

The average work week in Canada is 36 to 40 hours. Most businesses operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After every five hours of work, employees are entitled to a 30-minute break.

Employees who have worked with a company for less than five years get two weeks of annual vacation. Vacation days increase to three weeks after five years of service and to four weeks after ten years. Parental leave is 15 weeks with a benefit rate of 55%.

Canadian Business Culture vs. US Business Culture

EtiquetteCanada 🇨🇦US 🇺🇸
Business valuesPeace and harmonyAggressive and fast-paced
CommunicationIndirect and politeDirect, loud and open
Contact exchangesvia Business cardsvia Email and phone numbers
Naming conventionsTitles and last namesFirst names


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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