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The Globalization-Group published an interesting article. It helps business owners and their employees to understand why their business cards might not be effective in some countries.
Although business cards may seem small and uncomplicated, there are some issues when it comes to using them in foreign markets (and languages). The article provides some excellent tips to help business go smoothly when working with international clients.
Size, non-translation of certain elements, and even the way a business card is presented differ depending on the country and situation. Before traveling, the business card must be translated quickly, smoothly, and without incident. Various preferences and reference materials must be provided to the translation supplier in order to have the business card translation process run smoothly.
Standard Business Card Dimensions by Country
Standard business card dimensions differ from country to country, and the business card must have the correct size. If the corporate headquarters are in the U.S., but the business card is printed in multiple languages, U.S. standard dimensions can be used. However, if business cards are printed for someone based in one of the international offices, then the designer (or the translator) and the printer will want to use the standard dimensions for that country.

  • United States, Canada: 88.9 × 50.8 cm / 3.5 × 2 inches;
  • United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland: 85 × 55 cm / 3.346 × 2.165 inches;
  • Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden: 90 × 55cm / 3.54 × 2.165 inches
    Japan 91 × 55cm(or 90 x 55 cm) / 3.582 × 2.165 inches;
  • China, Hong Kong: 90 × 54 cm / 3.543 × 2.125 inches;
  • Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, & Multiple Latin American Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and more): 90 × 50 cm /3.543 × 1.968 inches.

Culturally Appropriate Business Card Etiquette
Business cards hold differing importance in some countries. Know the appropriate way to give and receive business cards in each country. The most notable example is Japan. The book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands includes the following recommendations for culturally appropriate exchange of business cards in Japanese business:

  • Cards are presented after the bow or handshake. The card must be presented with the Japanese side facing the business partner, so that it can be read immediately.
  • Read the card presented and memorize all the information. Ask for help in pronunciation and in comprehension of the title and make a relevant comment.
  • Handle cards very carefully. Do not put them in a pocket or in wallet, and never write on a person’s business card in his/her presence).
  • In Japanese culture, business cards are usually given and received using both hands, and Japanese business cards often contain additional details to emphasize qualifications.

Preferences for Business Card Translation
Indicate the following preferences where appropriate to ensure that the business card translation supplier provides what you need the first time:

  • Preferred terminology used on other company cards (i.e. preferred job titles, department names, taglines, or product names).
  • Existing name translations or whether to include names in both languages.
  • Exclusion of address from translation.
  • Preferred international contact information (i.e. non-toll-free phone number with country code that can be accessed outside the U.S.

Reference Materials for Business Card Translation
Provide the following optional reference materials to ensure that the business card translation supplier has everything needed for appropriate translation:

  • Existing company style guide, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing company glossary, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing translation history.
  • Example of an employee’s business card that has been translated or created in the target language.
  • Other reference material including existing translations for logos, slogans, names of products, names of people, etc.