TheTravelPro's Guide to Tipping (soon to be 'worldwide')

Few things are as misunderstood or misapplied as tipping, particularly in restaurants and especially by travelers sojourning outside their home countries.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this than many because I have worked in the service industry and have encountered international visitors who either have not informed themselves about the local customs or simply refuse to do here what they do at home. Either way, that's not acceptable. Remember the adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

As U.S. citizens, failing to inform ourselves about the customs in other countries could get us labeled, "Ugly Americans," and no one wants that!


To help travelers align their behaviors to the locals norms, I am in the process of putting together this guide to tipping, with the hope of eventually getting information from every country in the world. For now, though, I am pleased to share what I have.

In general, there are three categories when it comes to the culture of tipping: expected; not expected but appreciated; or, actually considered rude or offensive.

While residents of some countries do indeed view tipping as rude or offensive, hospitality workers in other areas expect – and, in many, depend upon - gratuities for a significant portion of their income. The amount will vary depending on the quality of the service as well as the country in which the dining or hotel stay took place.

In the U.S. at present, restaurant tips from 15 to 20 percent are considered the norm, unless dining in certain areas. In Miami, Florida, many restaurants add an automatic surcharge because their overseas guests failed to inform themselves about the local culture and tipped comparatively little. That placed a burden on the area’s restaurant workers, who depend on tips for the vast majority of their income.

In Seattle, Wash., some restaurants have abolished tipping in favor of a flat percentage service charge. Some restaurateurs have chosen that method to offset the city’s higher minimum wage, which is currently $15 for most larger businesses.

To compile this list, TheTravelPro contacted management of an upmarket hotel or restaurant, another travel professional, or a Convention and Visitors' Bureau in each country and posed the following to obtain the perspective of those on the ground:

Because the practice of tipping (leaving gratuities) varies so widely among the nations of the world, I need to ask: In YOUR COUNTRY, is tipping of restaurant servers (waiters and waitresses) part of the culture? If so, what amount (a percentage of the total bill) is considered acceptable for good service, and for excellent service? In a hotel, what is an appropriate gratuity for a bell person who carries luggage to the guest’s room? What daily tip amount should be left for housekeeping staff?

If tipping is not a part of the culture, please let me know that as well.

While I have not included the names of the individuals or their establishments, I have endeavored to present their comments as presented them to me, with only minor edits for clarification.

Although variations from the norm can occur in any country, what follows are the responses received from operators of major and/or upmarket hotels and restaurants in the various countries of the world when asked about what is considered acceptable where tipping is concerned.

I trust this guide will prove helpful as you travel the world.

Bon voyage!
  • Afghanistan - Tips range from US$1 to $5 for bell persons and waiters.
  • Albania - Albanians embrace tipping as part of their culture, though it is not a “must”. It depends on the quality of the service. “We are all paid for the work that we do, and it’s up to you how much you prefer to leave,” one hotelier said.
  • Antigua and Barbuda - Many resorts on Antigua are all-inclusive. Check to see if gratuities are also included.
  • Argentina - From the point of view of the employee, for a good service it would be reasonable to receive 10 percent of the bill in restaurants, 5 to 10 pesos per bag for the bellman who takes the baggage to the room, and daily tip for housekeeping staff: 10 to 20 US$.
  • Aruba - Most restaurants add a service charge of between 10 and 20 percent that will be distributed among the entire staff. Guests may also wish to leave a tip specifically for their waiter if service was especially good. On resort properties, tipping is completely at the guests’ discretion.
Caribbean beach
  • Australia - The practice of tipping in Australia is not expected by hotel staff members, taxi drivers or other employees. Should a guest deem the service to be acceptable, restaurant servers usually appreciate an average of 10 to 20 percent. Gratuities for bell people vary depending on the number of bags but generally ranges from $5 to $20.
  • Austria - In restaurants, add 5 to 15 percent to the bill so it is rounded up to a convenient number. For example, if the bill is €9, round up to 10. If it’s €25, round up to 27. It‘s flexible. If paying by credit card, you can ask to add a tip to the total, or pay the bill and hand over some coins or notes as the tip. Bellhop/porter around €1 – 2 per bag and the housekeeper €1 - 2 per night – leaving the gratuity on the bed. Valets €5 – 20 depending on whether they park your car or not. This isn't required, but if you receive good service it will be appreciated.
  • Azerbaijan -Tips are not expected but if guests wish to reward excellent service, five percent is adequate.
  • Bahamas - Tipping is part of the Bahamian culture but is completely at the guests’ discretion.
  • Belgium - Service is always included in Belgium. Visitors can always give a tip, which is most appreciated, but it is not like in a lot of countries that you have to add a percentage to the bill. Belgians tend to round up the bill if they are happy with the service but nowhere is a guest obliged to tip.
  • Belize - Similar to the U.S.: 15 to 20 percent, depending on the quality of service
  • Bénin - Tipping in Bénin is completely at the customer’s discretion. There are not specific rules, but tips can be left if a customer wants to show his or her appreciation. In such instances, 500 CFA Franc (XOF) is a good tip for a doorman, 1 000 for a restaurant server, though it could be more for higher-end establishments. Guests at a hotels might leave something upon departure, as many hotels share tips among their entire front-of-house team. At present, 1,000 XOF equal approximately US$1.86.
  • Bermuda - Most, if not all, of the restaurants put on a 17 percent service charge on all food and beverage charges. Diners may choose to additionally tip, but it is not expected. There is also a 10 percent service charge at many resorts which takes care of the bellman, housekeeping, parlor maids, and service staff in the restaurants so no additional tipping is needed.

Pastel colours typical in the Caribbean
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina - Tipping is a part of the culture but is not defined in terms of percentage. Generally, if the service is very good, a tip of 10 – 20 Bosnian Convertible Marka (BAM or KM) is considered good. For bell staff/porters and a daily amount for housekeeping, 10 BAM is also acceptable. At present, one BAM equals approximately US$0.63, so a 10 BAM tip would equal about US$6.30.
  • Botswana - Tipping of restaurant servers ranges from 10 to 15 percent of the total bill. A tip of between 20 and 50 Botswana Pula (BWP) is normal for carrying of luggage. It is not common practice in Botswana to leave tips for the housekeeping or reception staff. At present, one BWP equals approximately US$0.10, so a 20 BWP tip would equal about US$2.
  • Brunei - Tipping is not customary in Brunei. However for hotels and restaurants, there may be an additional 10 percent service charge added to the bill. Nothing additional need be added to that.
  • Bulgaria - Tipping is part of the culture. At restaurants around 10 percent of the bill; more if the service was outstanding. Housekeeping staff 15 - 20 Bulgarian Lev (BGN) left at the last day of check-out for a mid-range stay of 3-4 days. Porters, 5 BGN. At present, one BGN equals approximately US$0.63.
  • Denmark - Waiters and waitresses, taxi drivers etc. earn higher wages than in other countries and are not dependent on tips in the same way as in some countries. According to Danish law, any service charge, including tips for waiters, has to be included in the price in restaurants. Tipping is greatly appreciated, but not expected, and you should only do so if you feel you are getting exceptionally good service. If you do so, 10 percent of the bill is sufficient. Service is normally included in the bill at restaurants, hotels and taxis so it is optional whether to round up the bill or not.
  • Egypt -  Tipping is part of today’s culture in Egypt, in a restaurant for servers (waiters and waitresses). "My team is definitely not expecting any tipping, simply because they are well paid and have high salaries," one hotelier said. "We all love to serve. If one of my Team members gets a tip, we have a box we add it to it, then it gets distributed to all.
  • Estonia - In Estonia, tipping is not part of the culture, though some restaurants add a 20 percent service charge. Still, visitors from different cultures think differently and it is quite common for guests to leave tips. Good service in restaurants is usually awarded with a 5-10 percent tip, excellent going-the-extra-mile service with 10-20 percent. Hotel bell staff tip is usually €2-5; housekeeping €1-2.
  • Finland - Tipping is not a big part of Finish culture. It is not considered rude if you do not leave a tip. Accordingly, there are no specific rules or percentages to follow. However, guests who are happy with the service may leave a small tip, which is greatly appreciated.
  • Greece - Tipping is not customary and therefore not expected. However, guests can tip if they wish; it is not considered offensive.
  • Iceland - In Iceland, people don’t expect tips but giving someone a tip for good service will be appreciated.
  • Ireland - Some people leave 10 percent in a restaurant while in Dublin it can be a little more. If the service is excellent then you can always leave something, if you do not think it was exceptional then only leave a few euros. Tips for porters carrying the luggage could be a euro or two depending on how heavy, how many cases and far they had to travel to the bedroom. I would give something to those who looked after you well and not to those that just served you without making you feel special.
  • Israel - 10 percent of the bill; 15 percent if service was really good. Tips to hotel staff completely at the guests’ discretion. If in a restaurant, add one New Israeli Shekel (NIS; about 30 cents, U.S.) if the establishment has a guard.
  • Italy - Tipping is not a customary practice in Italy, so there is no rule about what to leave to maids, housekeeping, waiters, or porters. In Italy, these job categories pay good salaries, so it is up to the guest. Hospitality industry workers “will happily accept any amount you would decide to leave,” according to one hotelier.

Venice gondolas and San Giorgio
  • Japan - No tipping at all. It is not part of the tipping culture, and offering a tip may be considered offensive.
  • New Zealand - Tipping is not part of the culture, though rounding up to the next full note so no change is necessary makes it easier. Smallest note in NZ is NZ$5
  • Poland - 10 percent is considered a good tip at a restaurant

Polish zloty
  • Portugal - It is not really part of the Portuguese culture to tip. It is not expected so a couple of euros is sufficient for any service.
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis - At restaurants tipping around 10 percent is fine but there isn’t any rule about how much one should tip on island. For housekeeping and bell boy duties, it is at the visitor’s discretion for how much they will like to tip.
  • Switzerland - You never have to worry about tipping in Switzerland, as tips are included in the price. You can, however, add a smile to the face of someone who has provided good service by rounding up to the nearest franc or round figure. In restaurants, a service charge is typically added into your bill. If this is the case, you do not need to leave an additional tip. However, if you are exceptionally happy with your service, you can round the bill to the nearest Swiss franc (CHF). For example, if your meal costs CHF 47, you could leave CHF 50.

    If the service is lousy, don’t leave a tip at all. At the end of the day, eating out in Switzerland can prove to be expensive when compared with surrounding countries (e.g. France and Italy); therefore, this ought to be taken into consideration when thinking about tipping etiquette in Switzerland. In hotels, give around 1-2 CHF for each bag that the bellman carries. If you are in a hotel shuttle or car park shuttle, you should give the driver a small tip, perhaps CHF 1. Also, you should tip the maid around CHF 1 a day. If you are staying at a resort hotel, you may want to leave a little more. If you are staying for more than a few days, you may want to give the manager your tips and let him or her distribute them to the appropriate personnel.

Swiss francs
  • Taiwan - Guests are not expected to tip in restaurant or for transportation in Taiwan, though it is not considered offensive if a tip is given, so visitors who received excellent service may feel free to tip if they desire. Normally the amount of tips can be 100 New Taiwan Dollars (TWD) or more. At current exchange rates, TWD100 = approximately US$3.50.
  • United Arab Emirates - 10 percent considered good at a restaurant

UAE Dihrams
  • United Kingdom (England, specifically) - Gratuity is never expected but is considered a very kind gesture form the guest. The standard tipping percentage would usually be 10 percent in restaurants, though many add an automatic “service charge,” which is typically 12.5 percent. If this is already added on the bill, guests need not leave an additional tip. Tips for housekeeping services is entirely at the guest’s discretion. Perhaps £5 - £10 left in the room upon departure for the maid for a stay of two nights or more. Tips for porters are not expected either, and a tip of £2 would be acceptable.
  • Uruguay - In restaurants it is customary to leave a 10 percent tip if service is good/ normal and 15 percent if it is excellent. Of course guests can leave more or less since is not mandatory. For a bell boy it is normal to leave US$2 per bag, and USD$20 to the maids at the end of a visit. Tips are not mandatory and usually no one will lower their service standard if you don´t tip, but it will be appreciated.
  • Vanuatu - Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu and is never included or associated with accommodation rates. Rates are also quoted as tax inclusive.
  • Venezuela - We do not have a set number for tipping those who work in a hotel. Gratuities given by customers are a form of appreciation for the excellent performance of the people who work in the hotel. If our customers offer tips, it is because the guest is pleased with the level of services provided.
  • Vietnam - Tipping is part of the culture. For bills from $30 - $100, a tip of approximately 10 percent is ample. If the bill is less than $30, a tip of 50,000 to 70,000 Vietnamese Dong (NVD) is fine. Editor’s note: Don’t be intimidated by the amounts expressed in NVD; at current exchange rates, that’s about US$2.50 to $3.10. For housekeeping service, leave a tip of $5 per day. For bellmen, tipping is around $2-$4 depending on the number of bags and the quality service received.
  • Zambia - The Zambian government stipulates a 10 percent service charge so many lodgings tell guests the tip is already included. If a certain individual provided excellent service, a small tip of between 20 and 100 Kwacha will be appreciated. Editor’s note: At present, 1 Kwacha (ZMW) is about US$0.10, so 20 to 100 ZMW would be about $2 to $10.
As you can see, this guide is a work in progress. I will update this as I receive responses from those I have contacted. If you have information about any country not listed, please use the "Comments" section to share what you know, and please cite your source.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
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