Travel Money

Guide to tipping abroad

Knowing how much to tip in a café, restaurant, taxi or for another service can be difficult even before you add in the complication of how it works in other countries. That’s if tipping is even the norm in your destination, of course.


With this guide to tipping on holiday in selected destinations, you’ll know if and how much to tip when you’re there, so you can strike the perfect balance of generous and polite, without going overboard. If your destination isn’t covered here, a local guide book is always a handy companion and will usually cover tipping etiquette.


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Tipping in Europe

In most of Europe, tipping is very common. In many cases, it’s just built into part of the bill – very similar to the UK. Tip sizes vary from country to country, but if you get stuck or you’re strapped for cash – just add on 10%, or round the bill up to the nearest €5 or €10.


As in all countries, it’s polite to tip porters, taxi drivers and the people cleaning your hotel room – the expected tip is much smaller than the standard in bars and restaurants.


If the service has been poor, don’t hesitate to hold back on the tip. As in the UK, it’s meant to be a reward for good service.


1. Tipping in Spain


Tipping is common in Spain. It can be added to your bill and is normally between 5 and 10%. It is polite to add a small tip on top of this in change if you have it. If service charge isn’t included, it’s normal to tip 15%.


2. Tipping in Germany


Tipping is the done thing in Germany. At beer festivals, you will usually buy tokens which you exchange for beer and food. In these situations a cash tip is expected too. Similarly, in markets and festivals, you will normally have to put a deposit on the glass you take around with you, which you can either keep or return for your money back. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to have small change with you. 


Tipping in restaurants and bars is a standard 10%. Germany is one of the countries where, in the language, a tip is “drink money” (Trinkgeld), so leaving change is always appreciated. 


3. Tipping in France


A pourboire (“for drink”) of around 10-12.5% is usually added at the end of a meal and an evening at a bar. It’s uncommon to pay for your drinks as you go (instead you pay at the end), but if you are in this situation then you don’t need to tip with every drink. 


It is French law to include a service charge in the overall fee. This means tipping in Paris or any other part of France above and beyond the service charge isn’t necessary or an obligation, but appreciated. How much is up to you.


4. Tipping in Portugal


Tipping isn’t a big part of everyday life in Portugal, and most Portuguese people don’t usually give or receive tips themselves at all. But it’s still welcomed when it happens. 


Your tips can help to supplement the income of waiting staff, clerks and attendants, whose wages for such roles are among the lowest in any EU country.


If you do choose to tip, there are two main approaches: adding 5-10%of the bill or rounding it up to the nearest ten euros. 


5. Tipping in Austria


Tipping in Austria isn’t as common as it is in the rest of continental Europe, but service is still normally added to your bill (Rechnung). If you feel that your service has been excellent then leaving some extra euros will be welcome. 


6. Tipping in Poland

Tipping is expected for good service in restaurants in Poland, particularly in touristy areas like the capital, Warsaw and other cities such as Krakow. While it’s customary to tip 10% of the bill you can increase this to 15% if you found the service exceptional. If you’re dissatisfied, you don’t have to leave anything extra.


Tipping’s also common in hotels but again you’re under no obligation. You won’t see many bellhops or porters, so needn’t worry about tipping someone to take your luggage to your room. For taxi drivers, around 10 per cent of the bill is about right if you’re happy with the service. 


7. Tipping in Italy


Service charge (servicio) is often included in the bill, and occasionally you may also see pane e coperto, which is an extra charge for bread. You are expected to pay both (if you’ve eaten the bread) so you may want to ask up-front whether the bread is free or not. 


If you have paid both of these then leaving an extra tip is unnecessary. But again, for exemplary service, a little extra cash will not offend or be turned down. 


8. Tipping in Greece


Tipping in hotels, restaurants and for taxis or tours is common but not obligatory in Greece. It’s up to you if you leave a tip, but it helps to have a rough idea of what to leave for good service should you choose to. 


A few coins should suffice in cafes, or 5-10 per cent of the bill in restaurants if they haven’t already rounded it up to include a gratuity. If you want the tip to reach the waiting staff, leave it as cash rather than adding it as part of your card payment.


Round up short taxi rides to the nearest euro or add 5-10% of the bill for longer journeys. And, for guided tours, allow 2-5 euros per person per day if it’s a group tour, or 20 euros each if it’s private.


9. Tipping in Turkey


Tip 5-10% depending on quality of service. Check whether it has been included in the bill; it may not be as a matter of course. 


Tipping in Asia

In many Asian countries, tipping isn’t especially common. But if an area is popular with tourists it’s more likely that tipping will be expected.


1. Tipping in China


Tipping is uncommon in China. You might find that it is expected in areas popular with tourists but could lead to confusion elsewhere. However, tourist industry professionals (such as tour bus drivers/guides) are likely to expect a tip. 


2. Tipping in Hong Kong


Tipping in Hong Kong is more common than in mainland China. Restaurants may add a service charge of 10-15%, and taxi drivers will normally expect a small tip. 


3. Tipping in Japan


Tipping isn’t culturally normal in Japan, as good service is considered something that should be expected. Attempting to tip could lead to, at best, confusion and, at worst, offence. There may be occasions when you encounter someone who works within the tourist industry who won’t turn down a tip, however it’s best avoided.


4. Tipping in Thailand


Tipping is expected in Bangkok. Hotels and bars may add a service charge to the bill but if they don’t, tip 10% or round up to the nearest 20 baht. Outside Bangkok, tipping isn’t expected but rounding up a bill or fare will normally be considered fair. 


5. Tipping in India


Tipping isn’t normally expected outside of restaurants. After a meal, it’s common to tip 5-10%.  


Tipping in North and South America

There’s a big north/south divide in the Americas. 


In North America – the USA, Canada and Mexico – you’re expected to tip bartenders, taxi drivers, hotel staff, tour guides and waiters, even if you weren’t especially impressed with their service.


Tipping across South America works similarly to Europe – you only need to tip in restaurant scenarios, and only if it is not already added to the bill and the service has been good. 


1. Tipping in the USA


You tip in almost every transactional situation in the USA. You are expected to tip bartenders, taxi drivers, hotel staff, tour guides, delivery drivers and so on. After ordering a drink, a tip of $1 or $2 is fair. 


Tax law on food and drink differs between states and so it can be confusing when you receive your bill whether the 15-20% service charge is pre- or post-tax. It’s almost always a good idea to leave a little extra in cash. Many service workers in the USA make their salary up through tips, so tipping generously is appreciated. It’s a good idea to always have a supply of small notes. 


2. Tipping in Canada


Tipping in Canada is similar to in the USA, however the overall amount is 10-15%. 


3. Tipping in Mexico


If you see propina added to your bill, this is the service charge. If you haven’t been charged this then it’s polite to leave a little extra.  


Tipping in Africa

Tipping in Africa depends on where you’re visiting. Tourist hotspots almost always mean that a tip is expected. However, the further you go from major tourist locations, the less common it will be.


1. Tipping in Kenya


If you’re happy with service at a restaurant then tip 10%. A tip of 50-100 shillings for hotel staff will usually be appreciated.


2. Tipping in South Africa


It’s expected to tip in South Africa. It will normally be 10-15% added to your bill, but if it isn’t this is roughly the amount you should leave.  


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