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Etiquette varies widely from culture to culture. What may be perfectly normal in one country can sometimes be a grave insult in another. Below are some of our tips on world etiquette that will help you avoid embarrassing (and sometimes dangerous) mistakes when you move abroad.

Australia

Tipping

  • It’s not custom leave a tip in Australia.

Gestures

  • “V” (peace sign) with palm facing inward – rude
  • Middle finger -obscene gesture
  • Thumbs up – obscene gesture

Dining

  • “Cheers!” = Cheers
  •  Elbows off table
  • Utensils on plate – I’m full
  • Common to bring your own beer to restaurants

DO

  • Dress casually in most situations
  • Use first names (informal address)
  • Offer to help host clean up or prepare

United Arab Emirates

Tipping

  • 10% in restaurants
  • Round up taxi fare

Gestures

  • Lingering handshake for greeting
  • Kiss on nose for greeting
  • Point with whole hand

Dining

“Schucrame!” = Cheers

  • Keep left hand off table and away from food
  • No alcohol
  • Utensils in center of plate – finished

DO

  • Cross legs at ankle not knee

DON’T

  •  Show the bottom of your feet
  •  Point toe or foot at anyone

United States

Tipping

  • Obligatory 10-20% in restaurant
  • $1-$2 per drink for bartender
  •  5-10% taxi tips

Gestures

  • Middle finger – extremely rude
  • Shake hands for greeting
  • Middle finger extremely rude
  • Thumbs = approval
  • Making circle with thumb and forefinger = OK
  • Beckon with palm up

Dining

  • “Cheers!” = Cheers
  •  Elbows off table, one hand in lap
  • Napkin in lap
  •  Polite to clear plate
  • Put down knife before taking a bite

DO

  • Give firm handshakes

DON’T

  • Invade other’s personal space

China

Tipping

Only in Hong Kong (10-15% in restaurant)

Gestures

Shake hands for greeting

  • Rude to whistle or snap
  • Point with open hand

Dining

“Gan bei” = Cheers

  • Only use chopsticks
  • No slurping
  • Refill neighbours glass, never your own

DO

  • Dress conservatively
  • Use both hands when giving/receiving gifts
  • Generally avoid physical contact while conserving

If you would like to find out more about moving abroad and tips on world etiquette click here to view our destination guides.

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