5 Tips to Understanding Mexico Business Culture


Nearshoring to Mexico has been a successful strategy for U.S. and other foreign manufacturers for decades. There are several advantages, such as lower labor costs, free trade agreements, and a set infrastructure that numerous global industrial leaders have relied on for their production and continued expansion.


When manufacturing in any foreign country, it’s important to understand the differences in laws, taxes, and business culture. Language, traditions, and etiquette may be unfamiliar to manufacturers entering the space for the first time. Working with a shelter provider offers a bridge between the two cultures to ease the transition, but it’s also helpful to have basic knowledge of cultural expectations when it comes to business. Here are a few tips on how to proceed with respect to build positive relationships.

Speak the Language

With Spanish as the primary language in Mexico, it’s good to know at least the basics of the language, such as greetings and general phrases. Though U.S. and other foreign manufacturers don’t need to be fluent in Spanish, it can help bridge the gap of communication. However, more importantly, the way communication is conveyed makes a difference. In-person meetings and phone calls help to limit misconstrued intent that can often be lost in translation through online communication alone.

Embrace Authentic Connections

A large part of Mexican culture is building relationships and authentic connections. Rather than diving headfirst into business agendas, taking a few minutes for a friendly chat at the start of a meeting is part of the business culture that helps cultivate healthy partnerships.


Additionally, it’s important to be cognizant of different holidays and expected time off. Mexico follows a 48-hour work week, rather than the 40-hour work week held by the U.S. Paying proper respect to Sundays and national holidays is part of understanding the business culture in Mexico and ensuring employees experience a work-life balance.

Establish Local Contacts

Having a local representative in Mexico provides a great advantage for foreign operations. They provide insight into the local ways of working and improve your chances of success when nearshoring to Mexico. Developing a strong local relationship can help expedite logistical issues, ensure you’re in compliance, and navigate the customs and government process more efficiently. When partnering with a shelter provider, you’ll have a team in place to provide these types of services and expertise to support your operation.

Dress for Success

Depending on the region, attire may be more casual but always err on the side of formality when doing business in Mexico. Though many West Coast businesses in the U.S. are known for their laid-back office attire, the business culture in Mexico calls for at least a business casual dress code for meetings. It shows a certain level of respect and sets the tone for professionalism among all parties.

Consider the Logistics

U.S. manufacturers have the advantage of visiting their Mexico facilities fairly easily, many with a shared time zone and a short drive or flight into Mexico. With that being said, it’s important to be mindful of border and facility security and traffic congestion. Plan ahead to adhere to a punctual schedule and keep in mind that your colleagues in Mexico may also be facing unexpected delays. Stay in constant communication to limit frustrations and miscommunication.


There are several similarities across all cultures when it comes to doing business. However, each country and region has its own specific way of honoring its culture. Taking time to learn and address these makes an impactful difference when creating successful, long-term engagements.


For information about how IVEMSA can support your manufacturing operation, contact us today.







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