Azeris are very polite but also gregarious people who greet people with
enthusiasm. Men use a handshake and kiss on the cheek, while women hug and kiss
each other once on the left cheek, although many will shake hands with a
foreigner. Males should wait and see if a woman extends her hand for a
Business dress is always conservative. Men generally wear suits and women
wear smart professional outfits. Shorts are not advisable at work or socially.
Azerbaijanis make extensive use of business cards, so bring plenty with you.
In formal situations, use the first name followed by an appropriate title:
‘hanum’ for women and ‘bey’ for men. It is polite to enquire about business,
personal health and family. Be prepared to accept tea and sweets before
starting business proceedings.
Be aware that Azerbaijanis can be vague and noncommittal about specifics in
business transactions and may be reluctant to stick to tight schedules.
There is a big population who have a Farsi background, so the language is
widely spoken. Most Azerbaijanis are bilingual, speaking Russian and
Azerbaijani (an ancient Turkish dialect), it is recommended that you bring an
interpreter. Historical and cultural bonds between Turkey and Azerbaijan are
For Azeris the symbolic significance of a gift is more important than its
monetary value. Gifts are appropriate for the most senior members of organisations
and small gifts (e.g. company pens, books, clocks) can be given to support
staff and those who arrange meetings with key contacts. Whether at home or
business, it is considered bad manners to open a gift in the presence of the
In accordance with the new constitution, all legal documents and records
will be in Azerbaijani.
Setting up in Azerbaijan
Independent traders and small stores are prospering within the country due
to moving away from the centralised state system, Activity has been developing
until now through the intermediary of distributors, agents and new
representation offices. The government is encouraging foreign investments.
Opening a Representative Office (RO)
An RO is the locally registered presence of a foreign company in Azerbaijan
and is considered for taxation, legal and currency purposes a ‘non-resident’.
If an RO is to be strictly limited to providing representative services to its
head office, the RO will not be subject to any profit taxes. However, the
office will be expected to pay for all other applicable taxes such as personal
income taxes and social fund payments on Azeri employees. (Source: PriceWaterhouseCoopers)
Opening a Branch
The branch form of business is not well developed in most countries of the former Soviet Union. Azerbaijan laws do not provide clear guidance on the registration and taxation requirements for branch offices and as a result, most foreign companies are currently operating as ROs.
Banking and finance
In recent years the positive economic and social change in the Republic of
Azerbaijan and the newly forming system of social relations has resulted in
political stabilisation and economic growth. The state's bid to create a balanced
market economy has promoted harmonious integration into 'the global economy'
and significantly raised its international reputation.
A balanced monetary, credit policy and positive developments within the
banking system are among the most important factors that have revived the
economy. Macro-economic financial stability and the steadiness of the national
currency exchange rate have been achieved, inflation is optimal and fruitful
cooperation with the world's leading financial institutions has been embarked
Considerable growth of the commercial banks' involvement in the domestic
economy and substantial advances in banking reforms has improved liquidity and
profitability and has repeatedly raised total banking assets in relation to Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).
The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) plays an important role and was
previously the USSR's Foreign Economic Bank branch. The IBA has successfully
progressed as the national economy has developed and has become an effective
financial institution, occupying a leading position. (Source: GOLIATH Business Knowledge on
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Ministry of Economic Development
Ministry of Taxes
Political Structure - Governmental
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