Includes information on acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.
Algeria has a unique business culture due to its location at the crossroads of Africa and the Mediterranean basin, its ethnic diversity of Arabs and Berbers, its 130-year history of French colonization followed by a guerrilla war for independence, and a decade-long struggle in the 1990s against violent terrorist activity. Algerians are very friendly and like to build business relationships based on trust and respect. Therefore, the most critical aspect of working with Algerian counterparts is gaining their confidence and participating fully in the business process. Other relevant customs to keep in mind include the following:
- Personal contact is the cornerstone of a business relationship in Algeria, and heads of Algerian organizations expect meetings with counterparts.
- Algerians attach great importance to titles and hierarchy, and companies should address requests, invitations, and proposals to the head of an organization.
- Faxed letters in French on letterhead are more likely to elicit a response from Algerians than email communication since Algerians rarely respond to emails.
- Face-to-face communication is necessary to demonstrate or pitch a product or service. Algerians find PowerPoint presentations mundane; therefore, it is best to physically display your product or service.
- Business attire is formal in Algeria; men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a business suit or dress.
- Greetings are an experience and should be treated respectfully; offer your hand when greeting others, and make eye contact.
- For men meeting women, be aware that it is an Algerian woman’s choice to shake hands with a man. Therefore, it is best to wait and see if the woman extends her hand.
- For women meeting men, be aware that some Algerian men do not shake hands with women for religious reasons. In these cases, the man will not offer his hand or step back slightly from a handshake offered by a woman.
- Algerians may not be punctual in keeping appointments, and typical delays may be up to 15 minutes.
U.S. citizens must obtain a visa from an Algerian Embassy or Consulate before traveling to Algeria. Per the U.S.-Algeria visa reciprocity agreement, multiple-entry, two-year visas are available. Visa applicants need: a U.S. passport valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Algeria, two completed application forms typed online (with original signatures on both documents), two passport pictures with a white background, and a copy of an airline itinerary. Also, travelers should stipulate the intended date of entry and planned duration of stay on their application. A letter of invitation from an Algerian business or government agency is usually required. Visit the Algerian Embassy in Washington D.C.’s website for more details on visa type and requirements. Americans arriving without valid passports and the appropriate Algerian visa are not permitted to enter and can be subject to fines and immediate deportation at the traveler’s expense.
The Algerian dinar (DZD or DA) is the currency of Algeria, and daily exchange rates are displayed in banks. Algeria has strict foreign exchange laws, and the dinar cannot be exported. ATMs and credit cards are limited to hotels and businesses in larger cities. Most ATMs and stores/companies will only accept local bank cards, not international credit or debit cards. Travelers should check in advance if their hotel accepts international debit or credit cards. Only certain branches of a few banks (BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and Credit Populaire d’Algérie) have ATMs that can service international credit or debit cards, and these do not always work. Exchanging currency outside banks is technically illegal, and travelers should not change money on the streets or with individuals at the airport.
Algeria’s telecommunications are mostly modern. Algeria’s telecommunications infrastructure and procedures have improved significantly, making negotiations for service less difficult. GSM technology has made mobile phones commonplace, and service is available in almost all areas of the country. Easier access to the Internet, the introduction of 3G/4G, and the deployment of fiber optic cable have helped Algeria boost its ICT development. Most hotels and private businesses have Internet services.
Visitors to Algeria can either utilize international services from their U.S. cellphone service providers (e.g., Verizon and AT&T) or buy an Algerian SIM card upon arrival at the airport in Algiers by providing a copy of their passport. Internet and email penetration and utilization within government ministries are limited.
The Algerian standard is 230 volts/50 cycles. All 110-volt U.S. appliances need a transformer to use the local current. Even with a transformer, clocks and other devices requiring a 60-cycle current will not function properly. Algeria uses the type C and F Europlug with two small, round prongs, like continental Europe. Adapters and converters for small appliances are available at luggage or travel stores and Radio Shack in the United States.
Several international airlines serve Algeria, though there are no direct flights between Algeria and the United States, and Air Algérie and Tassili Airlines provide domestic flight services. Houari Boumediene Airport, typically shortened to ALG, is located about ten miles east of Algiers’ center and is a short 20- to 30-minute taxi from the airport to the city center. Taxis are located outside the lower level of the airport.
There is no shortage of taxis in Algeria, especially in major cities; travelers can either take a cab on the spot or call a taxi company. Several transportation services apps can be downloaded for free and used on mobile phones. You will be asked to pay in cash at the end of the trip.
Visitors can also use buses to travel around Algiers and to reach the central train station. Buses stop at Place Audin, Place des Martyrs, and Place Grande Poste in Algiers. The main terminal is outside downtown, where visitors can take buses to towns such as Oran, Ouargla, and Annaba.
There is a train between the major northern cities that is more enjoyable and comfortable than a bus. There are two high-speed train routes between Algiers, Oran, Annaba, and Constantine. Services in the capital converge at two main stations, the Gare de l’Agha and Gare Centrale.
Paved roads cover the northern region and connect some oases, but congestion and security checkpoints can slow overland travel. Rental cars are available, and prices are comparable to rates in Europe. Visitors who plan to drive should bring the necessary documentation, and it may be advisable to hire a driver in addition to the car. There are many international companies in the airport offering car rentals with drivers.
Parking is also an issue in urban areas, and many companies hire a car and driver for their executives.
See the State Department’s Algeria travel advisory for the most current information on travel within Algeria.
Arabic is the official language of Algeria, with Algerian Arabic spoken by about 72 percent of the population and Berber by the rest. Although it has no official status, French is widely used in government, business, culture, media (newspapers), and education due to Algeria’s colonial history. English is often understood and increasingly used in the private sector. Competent interpreters are in high demand and are expensive, so plan to secure interpretation for business meetings. Contact the Embassy’s Commercial Section for suggestions on local translators, or visit the Embassy website for additional resources for U.S. citizens.