England Gift Giving Customs

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Flag of England

Capital: London

Languages: English

Currency: Pound Sterling - Great British Pound (GBP) (£)

Drive on which side? Left

Nickname for Country: "old Blighty"

Nickname for Citizen: Briton, Brit

British Culture

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The terms 'English' and 'British' do not mean the same thing. 'British' denotes someone who is from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 'English' refers to people from England. Be sure not to call someone ‘English’ if they are Welsh, Scots or Northern Irish.

Queuing is important in England: if someone was there before you, let him/her be served first.

Tea Time is an afternoon break, usually held at 4:00 pm. It is accompanied by a snack of "biscuits"[1] (what Americans call cookies). These days, coffee is equally as common.

An 11:00 am tea break is called "elevenses". In Chile, las onces (the elevens in Spanish) is used to describe a similar meal. In Australia and New Zealand it is called "morning tea" or "smoko".


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  • Restaurant or café - A tip of at least 10% is common. Some restaurants include a service charge on the bill, in which case a gratuity is unnecessary.
  • Pubs - Do not tip to have a pint of beer poured in a pub. If you really want to tip the staff, buy them a drink by saying "and one for yourself." They will add the cost of their drink to your bill.
  • Hotel - A small tip of 1 or 2 pounds is appropriate if a staff member renders a service such as carrying your bags or hailing a taxi. It is more polite if you do not show the money when you are giving it - put it in your hand, say "Thank you", shake the person's hand and press the money into the person's palm.
  • Taxi - A tip of 10% is standard.
See our Tipping Guidelines Chart

Meeting and Greeting

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The handshake is the common form of greeting. There are no issues over gender in the UK when shaking hands. People shake upon meeting and leaving.

Most people use the titles of Mr, Mrs or Miss and their surname.

If someone has been knighted, they are called 'Sir' followed by their first and surnames (Sir John Smith) or 'Sir' followed simply by their first name (Sir Paul).

Business Etiquette in England

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Punctuality is a very British trait. Always call if you will be even 5 minutes later than scheduled.

Business cards are exchanged at the initial introduction without formal ritual. The business card may be put away with only a cursory glance so don’t be offended if not much attention is paid to it.

Rank is respected and businesspeople prefer to deal with people at their level. If at all possible, include an elder statesman on your team as he/she will present an aura of authority to your group.[2]

Business gift giving in England is not part of the business culture. Your business colleague might be embarrassed to receive a gift. It is better to reserve a gift until the conclusion of a deal.

If you choose to give a business gift, make certain it is small and tasteful. Good gifts include: desk accessories, a paperweight with your company logo or a book about your home country.

In the unlikely event that you yourself receive a gift and cannot reciprocate, inviting someone out for a meal can be viewed as a gift.

A business lunch in England will often be conducted in a pub and will consist of a light meal and perhaps a pint of beer.[3]

It is always good form to buy a round of drinks for your colleagues after work.

Personal Gift Giving in England

Buying a round of drinks at a pub is the most common way of celebrating someone’s birthday.

Unlike many European cultures, the British enjoy entertaining in people their homes. If invited to someone's home, it is normal to bring a host/hostess gift of a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers.

Champagne is always appreciated. Liquor or spirits, on the other hand, are a matter of personal taste and are best not given as a present.

Do not bring red roses, white lilies or chrysanthemums.

Whenever you have been a guest in a home, you should definitely send a hand-written thank you note.

If you are giving electronics, make sure that its electrical plug is their standard plug. Also, DVDs from other countries can be of different formats to those in the UK. When giving a DVD, you should make sure it is of the correct format.

Social Etiquette

  • When invited to someones home, plan on arriving about 10-20 minutes after the stated time.

Related Articles


  1. A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
  2. Doing Business in the UK
  3. English Etiquette and Behavior