Working with the people from Curacao

Written by Niels Kusters November 2013. Posted in Int. Skills, Working with people

Curacao is a small island located in the southwestern part of the Caribbean, 60km north of South America. The island is located in a strategic spot for doing business with the United States, South America and Europe. As a beautiful Caribbean island with perfectly warm and sunny weather throughout the year, Curacao is also a perfect place for tourism, with its beautiful beaches, phenomenal diving spots, the unique architecture in the cultural capital Willemstad and its great nightlife. Willemstad is a beautiful, historic city with typically Dutch seventeenth-century colourful houses, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Curacao has a population of over 145,000 people including over 55 different nationalities. The official language is Dutch, because Curacao is still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although 81% speak Papiamento as their first language. The national currency is the Antillean Guilder.

When doing business with people from Curacao, there are a few facts about the national business culture which are important to consider. The first is that since they live on an island which always has tropical weather, people from Curacao have a more relaxed and laidback way of thinking than most Western countries and their time management is less strict. When making an appointment with someone from Curacao you should remember the silent code of “Curacao time” which usually involves a 15 – 20 minute delay.

The first thing to know when communicating with the people from Curacao is to always greet them when meeting them and to say goodbye when leaving again. It is considered very impolite if someone does not do this. The level of directness when communicating depends on how well you know the other person. The more familiar you get with the other person, the more directly you can communicate with them. Touching someone while you are talking to him or her is not very common in Curacao, even between friends and family. It is advised to only touch the other person when you first greet them.

When going to a business meeting in Curacao, you are expected to dress formally. Men are expected to wear a suit or at least a conservative shirt and long trousers. Depending on the situation, you can sometimes wear more casual business clothes. Women are expected to wear nice dresses or a blouse. For both men and women it is inappropriate to wear shorts or sandals. For a business meeting it is best to show up on time, but don’t expect that from your counterpart. Finally, it is common to have some small talk before the meeting starts.