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Doing Business in the United States

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that business in the United States is the same as in New Zealand. The size and complexity of the market as well as American culture have an impact on the way Americans conduct their everyday business.

Market Key Facts

Key Source Regions/Cities

California, New York, Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, Illinois

Direct Routes into New Zealand

Los Angeles - Auckland
San Francisco - Auckland - Houston - Auckland
Honolulu - Auckland

Vancouver - Auckland


Air New Zealand, United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines

Leave Entitlement

2 weeks basic per annum


320,086,000 (Dec 2014 est.)




American Dollar (USD)

Total Outbound Travellers

68,303,358 (2014) – up 10.4% on previous year

Peak Booking Periods

September - April
Cruise travellers tend to book 250+ days in advance

Peak Travel Periods

November - March

Data sources:
CIA World Factbook (Currency, Population, Language)
http://trade.gov/fta/ttip.asp (Total Outbound Travel)

Doing Business in the US

  • The United States is the world's richest economy. It has dominance in high technology and a skilled and educated labour market.

  • American business people tend to be extremely busy and take the saying 'time is money' to heart. Make your requests, demands and dealings with Americans brief and to the point. Often a telephone call or email is more effective than a letter when making initial contact with a business.

  • Email is used widely. Non response or a slow response is interpreted as a lack of interest.

  • Arrange an appointment with a US business well in advance to ensure key personnel are available. Once an appointment has been set, you may have as little as five to 20 minutes to pitch your product. You must present your product with enthusiasm and verve and ensure that the key advantages of your product or service are strongly emphasised at the outset! Preparation of an "elevator pitch" may be helpful.

  • Cold calling is usually a lengthy and frustrating process with an extremely low conversion rate of calls to appointments.

  • Business is often conducted over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don't hesitate to initiate such invitations and be prepared to pay.

  • Do not include academic credentials on business cards - they are seen as irrelevant and pretentious.

  • Americans tend to be less formal than New Zealanders on first contact and the use of first names is common.

  • Business dress on the west coast tends to be more casual than on the east coast. There are no hard and fast rules in this changing dress environment, so when in doubt, a suit is the best option. On these grounds it is better to overdress than underdress.

  • Avoid using New Zealand slang - it's not likely to be understood. Be aware that Americans may not fully understand the New Zealand 'ironic' or sarcastic sense of humour.

  • In general, Americans don't know a lot about New Zealand. Be prepared to patiently answer their questions and give them background material.

  • Tipping is normal and expected in restaurants (15 to 20 percent of the bill) and taxis (15 percent of the fare). Porters and bellhops should be tipped at least USD$1 a bag. Valet parking attendants are usually tipped USD$1.

  • The United States has a visa waiver for New Zealand business visitors. This is valid for up to 90 days and visitors need to get this as an online travel authorisation (ESTA) before travelling to the United States.

Want to know more about doing business in the US?

Visit the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise website