Your guide to expat life in United Kingdom

Working in the UK

The UK is an economic powerhouse with the fifth largest GDP in the world. Expats are attracted to the country’s strong economy, good working conditions and high standard of living.

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Doing business

Although it no longer controls a worldwide empire, the UK is still a global economic power. Its long-established political and economic stability attracts many expats to its shores.

Each of the four nations has its own unique characteristics, but business practices, etiquette and culture are all influenced by politeness and courtesy.

While the corporate world remains conservative, enterprising expats have the opportunity to make their mark in a dynamic and diverse business environment.

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Business culture

The British are generally reserved and pride themselves on good manners and behaviour.

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Communication style

Business dealings are very diplomatic, with everyone making an effort to be considerate and polite. Communication is restrained, directness is avoided, and evasive, cryptic and sometimes humorous statements are substituted for what’s actually meant. You’ll need to become adept at understanding these subtleties.

Professional conduct

The business sphere is very formal. Dress is conservative, punctuality is paramount and outward displays of emotion are seen as distasteful.


Many businesses have moved towards an egalitarian approach where positions parallel each other. As a result, responsibilities and hierarchies can sometimes be unclear, which can be frustrating for people used to explicit directives and a culture of subordination.

Fast facts

Business hours

From 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Outside the public sector, employees often work much later.


Business dress is conservative and formal in the corporate workplace, with both men and women wearing dark suits.


A firm handshake is the best business greeting. Address senior colleagues with their formal title until told otherwise.


Gifts are not expected and can be inappropriate, but a round of drinks is happily received.

Gender equality

Women are treated equally in the British workplace. They make up nearly half of the workforce and hold more managerial positions than in most European countries.

Expat salaries

Expat salaries in the UK don’t differ much from local salaries, but are generally high. This is especially true for the finance, law and IT sectors, as well as most corporate positions.

See the beautiful landscapes, cultural and historical buildings.

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Making life easier for expats

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  • We believe that choosing to live abroad has the power to enrich your life. It can be a journey that leads to new experiences and opportunities. But it can also be complicated. That's why we're here to help manage your finances and make planning for the future simple.

Achieve your ambitions at HSBC

HSBC is one of the world's leading international banks, with a network covering over 70 countries and regions. Our global reach and values-led high performing culture fosters continuous professional development, flexible working and opportunities for you to grow within an inclusive and diverse environment.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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