Handshake, Hug or Kiss: How to Greet Someone in 13 Different Countries

Different countries have different codes of conduct when it comes to making personal introductions. Here’s the proper etiquette on how to greet someone for the first time whether you find yourself in Stockholm, São Paulo or Sydney.

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How to greet someone when you travel the worldPhoto: ShutterStock

Travel etiquette: Tips on how to greet someone for the first time

Meeting someone from a different country for the first time can be tricky. Is it one kiss or two? Do you shake hands? How can you avoid the awkward hand-stuck-in-hug situation? To help us all get the local custom right first time round, the experts at Babbel have put together a handy guide to the code of conduct in 13 different countries.

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How to greet someone in FrancePhoto: ShutterStock

How to greet someone in France

In France, it's customary to greet someone with a kiss—two in fact, starting from the left cheek (although regional variations exist).

The French don't have a monopoly on greeting with a kiss, of course. It's also the customary greeting in the following countries:

Spain: One kiss on each cheek.

Italy: One kiss on each cheek.

Australia: One kiss on the cheek.

Netherlands: Three cheek-bump kisses if you have met the person before; if not then it could be any greeting ranging from a ‘hoi’ (hi), an awkward hug, or the three kisses.

Brazil: This really depends on the region you’re in. In São Paulo, you just kiss once. In Rio de Janeiro, you kiss twice. In general, always kiss and never go for the handshake as this would be considered rude.

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How to greet someone in GermanyPhoto: ShutterStock

How to greet someone in Germany

In Germany (as well as in Poland and the United States), it's customary to greet someone with a hug/handshake. The hug/handshake is also common in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, although a verbal greeting is preferred if you haven't met the person before.

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How to greet someone in the United KingdomPhoto: ShutterStock

How to greet someone in the United Kingdom

Confusingly, greetings in the United Kingdom can be either a kiss on the cheek, two kisses with one on each cheek, a hug, or just a verbal greeting. It really does just depend on the people’s preference.

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