Lebanon - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.

Last published date: 2020-09-29


Business Customs

Lebanese business dealings are formal yet hospitable.  Handshakes with direct eye contact are appropriate greetings.  Punctuality is generally expected for business meetings, and the three working languages are Lebanese Arabic, French, or English.

Business cards are commonly used.  Dress code is formal in most business and official settings.  Gifts are common and are accepted on most occasions.

Travel Advisory

U.S. companies and visitors are advised to carefully assess the situation in Lebanon by consulting the Department of State Travel Advisories at Travel State

U.S. citizens are advised to maintain valid travel documents and enroll with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy in Beirut through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program STEP.

Visa Requirements

Visas are required for entry into Lebanon and may be obtained at Lebanese embassies and consulates (Lebanese Embassy in the United States).  Citizens of the following countries can obtain a free one-month validity visa renewable for three months upon arrival at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (Beirut-RHIA):

European Union European Union / EFTA, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela. 

More information is available at the Lebanese General Security’s website.

Travelers who hold passports that contain visas or entry/exit stamps for Israel will likely be denied entry into Lebanon and may be subject to arrest or detention.  Even if their travel documents currently do not have Israeli stamps or visas, persons seeking entry into Lebanon who have previously traveled to Israel may still face arrest and/or detention if this travel is disclosed.  The Government of Lebanon has the authority to refuse admission to U.S. citizens and to detain U.S. citizen travelers for further inspection.  Travelers who have previously worked in Lebanon without the appropriate work visa may be denied entry, or subject to detention or deportation.  Travelers who have overstayed their entry visa validity in Lebanon must adjust their status with General Security’s Department of Passport and Immigration and receive an exit visa prior to their departure.  Individuals who are detained pending deportation are expected to pay the cost of their own airline ticket and will remain under detention until they have gathered the necessary funds.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website.

Currency

The monetary unit in Lebanon is the Lebanese Pound (LBP), also called the lira.  As of October 2019, there are ad hoc controls on foreign exchange while U.S. dollars were in short supply, but high demand, forcing a volatile depreciation of the LBP.  Cash and credit cards are the most common method of payment in Lebanon, but payment by check or bank transfer is also possible.  Bank ATM machines are widespread, and cash may be withdrawn in Lebanese pounds or U.S. dollars.

Telecommunications/Electronics

International calls are expensive.  The public phone network managed by public operator OGERO is generally reliable.  Lebanon has two GSM networks that are owned by the government:  Touch and Alpha.  Various private cellular telephones and fax facilities exist.  Prepaid cellular cards are available at a monthly subscription fee of around $25.00 (including internet service and 11 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) charges.  Internet service is available for limited access, and is also accessible to visitors at many hotels and internet cafes.  DSL, ADSL, HDSL and wireless broadband internet connections are available in most of the hotels in Lebanon, though the service is slower than what is commonly available in the United States.  4G services are available across the country, while 5G services are limited.

The standard voltage in Lebanon is between 220V - 240V, as in Europe.  This requires a power converter since the standard voltage in the U.S. is in the range of 100V - 120V.  The frequency in Lebanon is 50 Hz and the power sockets used are of type C / D / G.

Transportation

Lebanon lacks adequate public transportation, but private, un-metered taxis and shared cabs are abundant in and around the capital.  Rental cars are readily available at a daily cost starting at $25.00, depending on the type and model of the car.  Although many international airlines serve Beirut, a 1984 U.S. Presidential Determination prohibits direct air links between the United States and Lebanon.

Language

Arabic is the official language in Lebanon, but French and English are widely spoken.

Health

Most pharmaceuticals and health-related products are readily available in the local market.  American companies such as Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag, Pfizer, and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) have representative offices in Lebanon.  Private hospitals in Beirut and surrounding areas provide modern care, but doctors and hospitals normally expect immediate cash payment for services if a client does not show evidence of a locally accepted health insurance coverage.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Local time is GMT +3 from March 21 to October 31, 2020, and GMT +2 from November 1 to March 20, 2021. 

Government offices hours are as follows:

- 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday

- 8:00 a.m. - 13:00 p.m. Friday

Bank counters are generally open on the following schedule:

- 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

- 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Saturday

Private office hours vary and some exceed the 40-hour workweek.

Public holidays in 2020 are as follows:

January 1:                    New Year’s Day

January 06:                  Armenian Christmas

January 20:                  Martin Luther King Day

February 14:                 Rafic Harir Memorial Day

February 17:                Washington’s Birthday

March 25:                     Annunciation Day

April 10:                        Good Friday (Western)

April 17:                        Good Friday (Eastern)

May 1:                          Labor Day

May 25:                        Memorial Day/Eid El Fitr

July 3:                          Independence Day

July 31:                         Al Adha

August 20:                    Islamic New Year (Al-Hejra)

September 7:               Labor Day

October 12:                  Columbus Day

October 29:                  Prophet’s Birthday

November 11:              Veteran’s Day 

November 26:              Thanksgiving

December 25:              Christmas Day

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

There are no restrictions on the temporary entry of goods and equipment.  Temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment and goods for use at trade fairs and exhibitions such as computers, repair tools, photographic and film equipment, musical instruments, industrial machinery, vehicles, jewelry, clothing, medical appliances, aircraft, race horses, art work, prehistoric relics, ballet costumes, and rock group sound systems require a temporary admission document known as the ATA (Admission Temporaire) carnet.  This is obtained exclusively from the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIB - BML).

By presenting an ATA carnet to Lebanese Customs, the imported products and equipment pass duty and tax-free into the country for up to one year.  At the end of the year, all the items listed on the carnet must be returned to the temporary exportation country.  Video, audio disks, and tapes may be subject to search and seizure.

More information is available on Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.