Doing Business In Venezuela

  1. Venezuela is ranked 180th out of 185 economies in Doing Business 2013, recording a 1 point decrease from last year.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2010), Crime Theft & Disorder and Electricity represent the top obstacles to running a business in Venezuela.
  3. Among the 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean covered by the Investing Across Sectors indicators, Venezuela’s restrictions on foreign equity ownership are relatively stringent. The National Constitution authorizes the government to reserve for itself those industries and services that are in the public interest and of a strategic nature. The most prominent example is the oil and gas sector, in which foreign capital participation is restricted by the Hydrocarbons Organic Law. It takes 19 procedures and 179 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) that wants to engage in international trade in Venezuela (Caracas). This process is slower than the averages in both Latin America and the Caribbean and the IAB countries globally.
  4. Venezuela’s economic freedom score is 38.1, making its economy the 174th freest in the 2012 Index. Its score increased by 0.5 point since last year, with a modest gain in labor freedom partly offset by a drop in trade freedom. Venezuela is ranked 28th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is much lower than the world average.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Nationals of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK and most of Western and Scandinavian Europe don’t need a visa to enter Venezuela; a free Tarjeta de Ingreso (Tourist Card, officially denominated DEX-2) is all that is required. The card is normally valid for 90 days (unless immigration officers note on the card a shorter period) and can be extended. Airlines flying into Venezuela provide these cards to passengers while on the plane. Overland visitors bearing passports of the countries listed above can obtain the card from the immigration official at the border crossing (it’s best to check this beforehand at the nearest consulate).
On entering Venezuela, your passport and tourist card will be stamped (make sure this happens) by Dirección de Identificación y Extranjería (DIEX or DEX) border officials. Keep the yellow copy of the tourist card while traveling in Venezuela (you may be asked for it during passport controls), and return it to immigration officials when leaving the country (although not all are interested in collecting the cards).
Visa and tourist-card extensions are handled by Onidex in Caracas.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communications

. This is a country where networking is important since it broadens your base of personnel who might have a connection you need. 
. As with many Latin cultures, Venezuelans are risk averse, which makes it important that they know and trust the people with whom they do business. 
. Venezuelans prefer face-to-face meetings to doing business by telephone or in writing, which are seen as too impersonal. It takes time to develop relationships. 
. Appearances matter to Venezuelans. Dress well and try to stay in a reputable hotel.
. Senior positions in business are predominately held by the upper class, so it is important that you pay attention to the hierarchy and show appropriate deference and respect to those in positions of authority.

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Business appointments are required and can often be scheduled on short notice; however, it is best to make them about 2 weeks in advance by telephone, email or fax. 
. Confirm meetings by fax or email, in Spanish, at least one week before the meeting. It is best to schedule appointments in the morning. 
. Avoid scheduling meetings on Friday afternoon, as many Venezuelans leave early for the weekend. 
. It is often difficult to schedule meetings in the two weeks before and after Christmas and Carnival, and three weeks before and after Easter. 
. Venezuelans are generally punctual for business meetings, especially if they are accustomed to working with international companies. 
. The first meeting is formal. 
. Have all written material available in both English and Spanish. 
. Decisions are not reached at meetings. Meetings are for discussion and to exchange ideas. 
. Send a thank you note to the most senior executive after the meeting.

Business Negotiation

. Expect a minimal amount of small talk before getting down to business. Older Venezuelans prefer to get to know people before doing business with them while younger businesspeople are more concerned with business than the social relationship. 
. It will take several meetings to come to an agreement. Negotiation and time for consultation are important. 
. Relationships are viewed as more important than business documents. 
. Negotiations and decisions take a long time. 
. Venezuelans focus on long- term rather than short-term goals. 
. Venezuelan business is hierarchical. Decisions are made by the person with the most authority.

Dress Etiquette

. Appropriate business attire is expected. 
. Men should wear good quality, conservative, dark coloured business suits. 
. Women should wear stylish suits or dresses. They should be elegantly dressed, including make-up, jewellery and manicures.

Business Cards

. Business cards are exchanged during introductions with everyone at a meeting. 

. Have one side of your business card translated into Spanish. 
. Present your business card with the Spanish side facing the recipient. 
. Business cards should contain both your professional and educational qualifications, since Venezuelans are status conscious. 
. Writing on someone's business card in front of them is considered very rude.

General Business Hours

Fixed business hours may exist theoretically in Venezuela, but, in practice, opening and closing hours are relatively fluid. The working day is supposedly eight hours, from 8am to noon and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday, but many businesses work shorter hours. Almost all offices, including tourist offices, are closed on Saturday and Sunday.


Usual shopping hours are 9am to 6pm or 7pm weekdays, and a half-day on Saturday (9am to 1pm). Many shops close for lunch but some work without a lunchtime break. Restaurants normally open from around noon to 9pm or 11pm, but many are closed on Sunday.

Most museums are open on Sunday but closed on Monday.