- Expert guide to tipping in Europe, North America, Canada, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australasia.
- Learn the correct tipping etiquette around the world and how to reward exceptional service when you travel.
- Discover how much to tip staff – from tour guides and waiting staff to taxi drivers and hotel staff – wherever you travel.
To tip or not to tip? It can be a dilemma. Leave some yen to thank Japanese waiting staff and they’ll be insulted. Forget to tip an appropriate amount in a US restaurant and your waiter will be unhappy. Tipping etiquette differs around the world, with tipping in Europe – especially in restaurants – being much more confusing at times than, say, tipping in Thailand where gratuities are not always expected.
From taxi drivers and tour guides to waiting and hotel staff, how much should you tip to reward good service? While tips should always be discretionary, this guide aims to end the confusion when tipping in Europe and around the world.
Tipping in Europe
Tipping in Europe differs from one country to the next, something to be mindful of while on European tours. And whereas once upon a time a €47 restaurant bill could be simply rounded up to €50, that’s often no longer the case.
In France, bills usually include service compris of around 15 per cent. There’s no need to tip further unless you’ve had exceptional service when an additional 10 per cent will be appreciated.
In Italy, if servizio and coperto is already added to a bill no additional tip is necessary. Otherwise leave 10 per cent.
When tipping in Germany, don’t leave money on your table and instead hand it directly to the waiting staff. And, don’t say thank you while settling your bill in Poland – that tells waiters to keep all the change.
If in the Netherlands, perhaps while river cruising, note that all taxes and service charges have to be included in published prices by law.
Tipping in North America and Canada
Tipping is expected everywhere in the States and waiting staff will presume you’ll add up to 20 per cent on top of any restaurant bill – something worth remembering when budgeting for USA holidays. It’s a good idea to carry cash around, preferably notes in low denominations, though establishments also make it easy to add a tip if paying by debit or credit card. If on a short taxi journey, a dollar or two should suffice. However, if you’re travelling from the airport to your hotel, your driver will expect between 10 and 15 per cent of the fare.
In neighbouring Canada tipping is the norm and people are generous with their cash. Exceptional service in a high-end restaurant is often rewarded with a 25 per cent monetary thank you. Unlike the US, though, you’ll rarely find tip jars on bar counters.
Tipping in Central and South America
Tipping is part of the culture in Mexico, with many people relying on the additional income to supplement their wages. In some restaurants, a 10 per cent service charge will be added automatically. However, if service has been exceptional, top this up to 20 per cent and hand cash directly to the waiting staff.
In South America, tipping isn’t always expected, but a thank you will be appreciated. It is becoming increasingly common to see a service charge of 10 per cent in restaurants in Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile. Pay this unless you’re feeling particularly disgruntled. In Argentina, the cubierto on your dinner bill is a coverage charge added by the management. If you are satisfied with the service, hand 10 per cent directly to the waiting staff.
You can also tip in US dollars in many South American countries but do so discreetly in Brazil – shake the person’s hand and pass over a folded note.
Tipping Middle East and Africa
On a trip to the Middle East or holiday to Africa, it’s a good idea to wise up on tipping etiquette before you depart. If visiting Israel there’s an informal but widely practiced custom where everyone in a dining party leaves a tip of one shekel on top of the gratuity already added to the bill.
In Egypt, a backsheesh or tip will be requested by the vast majority of people you meet. Don’t feel obliged to constantly dig into your pocket, however. A 10 per cent restaurant tip is ample at mealtimes, with a small thank-you gesture adequate for hotel staff. If someone looks disappointed or comments that they’d like more, try to ignore them. It’s common behaviour when dealing with tourists.
Do be aware that although you can tip in sterling, it’s not always easy for porters and drivers to exchange currency. Keep notes in low denominations ready to hand out as tips.
Tipping in Asia
On most Asia holidays, tipping is not expected. Indeed, in Japan you will cause offence if you leave a tip in a restaurant, bar or hotel – good service comes as standard. The only exception may be tour guides working regularly alongside international visitors. However, hand over a discreet thank you in an envelope.
Like Japan, tipping in China is not part of the culture and many establishments enforce a strict no-tipping policy. Hotels that cater for Western visitors can be the exception to the rule though, and tour guides welcome a monetary thank you. Don’t forget the driver – as a guideline tip US$5 per person per day.
How much to tip in India? In high-end restaurants, tip 10 per cent on top of the 5-10 per cent service charge that will already be on your bill. Again, do this discreetly and directly to the person you wish to thank.
Tipping in Australasia
People are more relaxed about rewarding good service Down Under. Tipping has only just recently become more common in Australia, especially in upmarket restaurants in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. There’s no obligation to tip in New Zealand, even in restaurants and bars, though again tipping is starting to be more commonplace at popular tourist attractions.
Tips in hotels are not necessary but will always be appreciated. It’s a good idea to leave housekeeping a tip at the start of a stay so you’ll be well looked after throughout your holiday.
As for how much to tip a tour guide? This depends on whether you’re part of a bigger group or you have a private guide. If it’s the latter, be prepared to up the amount to $20-50 per person. Don’t forget the private driver who should receive a similar amount.
Tipping in Europe and beyond
Tipping can be complex, but the great news is tipping is always discretionary – it’s simply an appreciation of good service. All of Riviera Travel’s holidays – from escorted tours to river cruises – allow discretionary tipping, putting you in control.
Visit www.rivieratravel.co.uk for our full collection of European and worldwide holidays.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.