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Tipping Etiquette and Guidelines for Restaurants Around the World

How Much to Tip a Waiter or Waitress?

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Tipping is one of the first etiquette challenges you'll encounter when you're a traveling foodie. What are the guidelines for the size of the tip you leave for your waiter or waitress when you're done with your meal? You risk an uncomfortable situation if you get it wrong. Here's a country-by-country tipping guide so you get it right.

North America

  • The United States: Tipping is not only customary at most restaurants in the United States, it's essentially mandatory. If you walk out without leaving a tip, your server is likely to follow and ask what he or she did wrong. This is because tips account for nearly 100% of a server's take home pay, according to Michael Lind, professor at Cornell University. Exceptions: restaurants that include a service charge in lieu of tip. This isn't very common and so is usually indicated on the menu. Also, restaurants routinely calculate a service charge for groups, sometimes as small as five or more. Tip 15% for normal service, 20% and up for excellent service. The average tip is around 19%, according to a Zagat survey.
  • Canada: Canadian tipping practices are similar to the United States. Tip 15% to 20%.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexico: Tipping is part of the culture in Mexico, and makes up a significant portion of server's incomes. Tip 15%-20% of your food and beverage bill before tax. Some restaurants will include this in the bill, under a line called propina, which means gratuity in Spanish. If the propina is included, you do not need to add more.
  • South America: Tipping is customary in South American countries, here's a country-by-country guide. In Brazil, a 10% tip is included in the bill.
  • Central America: Similar to South America -- either a propina is included, or tip 10%.
  • The Caribbean: Find tipping information by island here, customs do vary. For instance, in the Dominican Republic, restaurants add a 10% tip, and it's customary to add 10% extra on top of that. In St. Barths, it's 10% to 15%, but only if service is not included.

Europe

  • France: A 15% service charge is automatically added to your bill by law. In many parts of France, that's enough, unless you've received special service. In Paris, leave an extra 10% for good service.
  • Germany: If service is not included in your bill in a German restaurant, tip 5% to 10%. Learn how to properly hand over your tip and a handy phrase to use, here.
  • Italy: A service charge (servizio) is usually included in the price of the food, although it is sometimes a separate item. You may also see a non-optional "cover charge" on your bill. Tipping is a delicate matter in Italy. In some places, particularly in rural areas, it's not welcome. In others, if you leave tip, it's commonly a few coins, perhaps up to 5% if the service is good;10% for terrific service. Learn more about Italian restaurant customs and Italian tipping practices.
  • Spain: Tipping in Spain is apparently a fraught issue. In summary, tipping isn't that common, especially at bars and cafeterias, but at a nicer restaurant, it's not unheard of. If you'd like to leave a tip, leave the change up to the nearest Euro, or tip up to 5 - 10%.
  • United Kingdom: Some UK restaurants add a service charge, in which case you are not expected to leave an additional tip. (It's not always obvious whether a service charge has been added, though, here's how to figure it out.) If there's no service charge, leave 12% to 15%.
  • Greece: Tipping in Greek restaurants is also complicated, read a detailed guide here. Generally, if there is a service charge, you leave a few Euro for the waiter and also some change for for the busboy.If there isn't a service charge, tip 10% to 20%.
  • Amsterdam: Read a detailed explanation here, but tipping is not expected. Round up the bill to the nearest dollar if you'd like to reward good service.
  • Ireland: All depends on whether a service charge is included, learn how to interpret an Irish bill here. If there's no service charge, tip 10% to 20%.
  • Sweden: Tip by rounding up the bill to the nearest kroner, approximately 5 to 10%. More here.
  • Norway: In Norway, tip 6 to 10%.
  • Denmark: Tipping is less common in Denmark, restaurant bills often include the tip -- if not, add up to 10%.
  • Iceland : Tipping in Iceland is not common or expected, although no one will think you're rude if you round up your bill to the next kroner.
  • Read about tipping in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltics here.

Asia

  • China: Tips are not expected, and while you won't cause offense if you leave a tip, you may create confusion.
  • India: In India, there's a term called baksheesh which encompasses tipping, bribing and alms giving. It's part of the social custom in India for the wealthy to give to the less wealthy, and it's expected by porters who help you with your bags, and so on. While it's not expected to tip in restaurants, leaving 5% to 10% will be appreciated.
  • Japan: There is no tipping in Japan. Period. It's considered rude.
  • Vietnam: Tipping is not expected at restaurants, as a 10% service charge will have been tacked on to your bill. Read more about money customs in Vietnam.
  • The Philipines: It's not common to tip, but if there's no service charge, feel free to leave some change.
  • Indonesia: Tip 10% in luxury restaurants if there's no service charge, and use your judgment elsewhere -- tipping is not expected, but nor will you give offense if you leave one.
  • Malaysia: Some restaurants levy a service charge, if not, leave some change. Read more about tipping in Malaysia here.
  • Singapore: Tipping is restricted in Singapore, some restaurants will add a service charge, but other than that, no need to tip.
  • Thailand : Unless there's a service charge, tip 10% of your restaurant bill, or 15% for exceptional service. More about tipping in Thailand here.

Australia and New Zealand

Tipping is controversial in Australia and New Zealand. It's apparently seen as an unwelcome imported custom, but since it is becoming more common, you won't go wrong by tipping up to 10% at restaurants if a service charge is not included.

Africa

  • South Africa: Tip 10% to 15% at restaurants. More about money matters here.
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