This section is designed to provide quick reference tips about hosting international visitors, etiquette, and related information for individuals and businesses traveling to international locales.

Federal Protocol (U.S. Department of State)

State Protocol (Texas Secretary of State)


Proper and respectful protocol is essential in developing and maintaining international relationships. As members of the global community, a sensitivity and understanding of cross-cultural protocol is vitally important. This will link you to a site that provides a wealth of information about proper etiquette, communication and appearance pertaining to specific countries.

Hosting International Guests

The cardinal rule that should guide your thoughts as you plan to receive international guests or travel abroad is: "When in doubt, err on the side of excess.' One doesn't have to apologize for being too kind and respectful. These brief guidelines are meant to be representative of the types of things that reflect proper international protocol. There may be variations for different cultures and circumstances.

  • Establish a schedule of activities for the guest.
    Having one person in charge of the schedule is recommended. That person may notify everyone who will be seen by the visitor and remind them of protocol. In addition, that person should explain why the person is interested in visiting them so that they may prepare properly for the visit. In preparing the visitor's schedule, the possibility of jet lag should be taken into consideration. It's also a good idea to allow a little down time for the visitor to take care of personal business and relax.
  • Who should the visitor see?
    The status of the visitor and the significance of the visit would dictate the appropriate individuals with whom visits should be arranged. At least one visit should be arranged with a person at an equivalent level of status as the highest-ranking visitor.
  • What should the visitor see?
    A tour is a tour is a tour unless planning is put into it. Match the tour to the visitor's interests and needs. The Arlington Entertainment District is known as Fun Central and The Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau can assist with planning local activities and visits to sites of interests - and be sure to stop at the Visitors Center, where guests might want to purchase souvenirs.
  • Making Introductions
    It is important to introduce visitors to all with whom they come in contact. Degrees and titles carry more prestige in other cultures than they do in the United States; titles should be included in the introduction. Handshakes are generally exchanged more frequently in other cultures usually upon greeting and leave-taking. Exchange of business cards is usually expected.
  • Gift Giving
    Gift giving is an important part of international protocol. Gifts should be high quality, but can vary based on the status of the visitor. If it is a group, small distinctions should be made in the quality and/or quantity of gifts based on each person's status, but no one should be left out. Consideration should be given to the most appropriate time to give the gift.
  • Accommodations
    Costs of hotel accommodations don't vary greatly in Arlington, so a quality room should be reserved. A nice touch is to leave a small gift, light snacks, bottled water and information about Arlington in the guest's room. A car and driver should escort the guests wherever they need to go, including to and from the airport.
  • Suggestions for Specific Events
    Signing Ceremonies - Ceremonies where accords, statements of collaboration, exchange agreements with the City of Arlington are signed should have an air of formality. These should be viewed as dignified and solemn events. The Mayor should always be presiding over such an event. Gifts may be presented here. They should be kept discreetly out of sight so that in the event the visitor did not bring gifts, they can be taken away to avoid embarrassment.The flags of both countries should be prominently displayed. There should be modest refreshments, flowers and similar appointments. The media should be invited. Since their attendance cannot be guaranteed, a photographer should be there to record the event. Later, pictures should be mailed back to the visitor with a letter from the Mayor. As at any public event, words of welcome are expected.Luncheons and Dinners - Everyone may not arrive on time so it's advisable to gather in a nice lounge area before going to the room where the meal will be served. Meals should be dignified events where conversation is encouraged. Highest-ranking individuals should be given a tasteful dinner. In many cultures, socialization is more important than sustenance. Make an effort to distribute visitors with English fluency evenly around the table. The senior visitor in a group or the single visitor is always seated to the right of the host. If possible, use place cards to ensure the people will be distributed according to the plan. If the person's name and title, the occasion, the date and menu are all included, place cards become a nice souvenir. Gifts are very appropriate here and it is not necessary to keep them out of sight.It is not advisable to prepare foods from the visitor's culture unless you are absolutely certain it can be prepared properly. Americanized international cuisine is a faux pas. When in doubt, chicken (not fried) can be served. It is a good idea to avoid the American version of “eat and run” meals. Lunches, for example, should be more than a Caesar salad or soup and sandwich.Receptions - It is always appropriate to host a reception for international visitors. City of Arlington personnel with equal rank of the visitor should always be invited. The Mayor should be invited as well, but unless the visitor is of equal rank the event should not be postponed to meet the Mayor's schedule. It is also good to invite local or state officials depending on the guest being received.International students or local community people from the visitor's culture may be able to help with preparing authentic foods and hors d'oeuvres. This always adds a nice touch along with background music from the visitor's culture.

Travel Abroad

Whatever your purpose in visiting another country, your first job is to adapt. Here are some basics that should be reviewed before the trip:

  • Appropriate greetings and the pronunciation of names - Degrees and titles carry more prestige in other cultures than they do in the United States. Handshakes are generally exchanged more frequently in other cultures, usually upon greeting and leave- taking. Exchange of business cards is expected. Guests should plan to take at least twice as many business cards as they think they will need.
  • Learn about foods and food etiquette
  • The currency system
  • The dress code
  • As much of the language as possible
  • The usual weather conditions at the time of your visit
  • Gift-giving rituals - Gift giving is an important part of international protocol. Gifts should be high quality, but they can vary based on the status of the recipient. It's best to take gifts for those people whom the guests know they will meet and a few extra gifts for unexpected obligations.
  • Anticipate questions about Arlington and Texas - Take brochures and related materials.
  • Religious beliefs and customs integral to the culture.
  • Any important cultural events, holidays, or sporting events that will take place during the visit.
  • Observe all safety recommendations, such as going out unescorted in a foreign country.

Country Briefings

This link details the importance of travel warnings and news updates and provides a concise overview of the history, education, culture or business climate of the destination.

  • The World Fact Book & Country Profiles
  • Passports
    Starting Jan. 1, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling outside the U.S. borders by air or sea must have a passport to return home. This requirement is part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative mandated by Congress.To obtain a passport for the first time, go in person to one of 6,000 passport acceptance facilities located across the U.S. with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver's license. In Arlington, go to the USPS Passport Clerk at 300 E South Street, Arlington, TX 76010-9998.
    A passport may be renewed by mail if it is not damaged and is available to submit; if you received your passport in the past 15 years; you were over age 16 when it was issued; you still have the same name (or can legally document your name change). Passport renewal form.
  • Travel Information
    This link provides a list of and associated links to the websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions.Additional Travel Information can be located using the following links:

International Business

Additional Business Information can be located using the following links:

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China
Kumamoto, Japan
Gwangju, South Korea



Canary Islands, Spain
Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Flag Protocol

Flag rules & regulations

Rules for Display of the American Flag

The following information is provided as general guidelines for United States of America flag protocol:

  • It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. When a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.
  • When carried in a procession with another flag or flags, the United States flag should be carried on either the marching right; that is the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America.
  • No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof.
  • The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
  • The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • When various flags are flown together with the flag of the United States in the same halyard, the flag of the United States is always raised first and lowered last.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in a time of peace.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is to the observer's left. The same conditions apply when displaying the flag in a window.
  • When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
  • When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker.
  • The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
  • When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east and west or to the east when entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the east.
  • The United States of America flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organizational or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • The flag should not be used as drapery or as a covering for a speaker's desk. Bunting of blue, white, and red always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
  • The flag should never have placed on it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any matter whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as handkerchiefs or napkins or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Also refer to the RESOURCE section of this web site for additional information and a list of publications.