Guide to International Tipping Customs

Do you ever find yourself in a restaurant in some far-flung country on the other side of the world and suddenly realize you’re clueless about the tipping customs there? Well not anymore fellow traveler, as we’ve put together the definitive guide to tipping around the world!

You’ve enjoyed your lunch and asked for the bill in your chopped up, broken Swahili or Greek or Mandarin, using the trusty language app on your phone. The bill’s appeared, and it’s sitting in front of you with a number at the bottom. Now what?

Do you pay the exact amount? Or do you round up to the nearest whole number and say keep the change? Or do you switch from your language app to your trusty tip calculator app and figure out a percentage? If so, what percentage? You don’t know, do you?

You feel you don’t want to not tip, but then maybe the place where you are finds tipping offensive.

That might sound absurd to you, but not every country feels the same way about tipping. Some societies see tipping as a bribe or a way for the customer to feel superior. It’s perceived as a slight.

But not tipping at all – or tipping too little – can be equally insulting.

Or there’s the question of tipping too much and risking being seen some kind of “mark” or clueless tourist. You don’t want that either.

Tipping can be a cultural nightmare if you don’t know the custom of the country you’re in.

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Well, it can be if you’re a traveler who cares about your surroundings, blending in, and doing the right thing. We know travelers exist who care about none of that stuff, but you’re not that traveler. 

You’re the traveler who acknowledges they do things different abroad. You have no interest in imposing your cultural norms on another society. 

So before you get on your plane or your boat or bus or train, learn a little about how things work in the country you’re traveling to. You need not become an expert, but knowing a little about cultural norms can go a long way. 

We’ve put together a convenient guide summarizing the tipping customs in each of the 30 most-visited countries around the world in 2018. 

And you never know, if the country you’re visiting is on this list, you might know how to deal with that bill sitting on the table in front of you.

You might discover you’re not so clueless. You got this.

1. France

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Like most of Europe, doesn’t have a tipping culture and tipping is not mandatory. The French don’t tip and you don’t need to either.

Note that restaurants and bars add a 15% service charge (“service compris”) to the bill. This is the tip. Your waiter or server won’t expect anything more than that, although if you left a Euro or two on the table, that’s okay too.

The same goes for taxis, hotel porters, hairdressers, and anyone else you’d tip elsewhere. If the service is exceptional, round up and tell them to keep the change if you want (if you‘re paying with cash). No need to go overboard and figure out a percentage.

But if the service isn’t outstanding, don’t. It’s as straightforward as that.

Rule of thumb in France: If you feel like rounding up a euro or two, do so. But it’s not expected so don’t worry.

2. United States

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The United States has a major tipping culture.

Tipping is normal here, in restaurants, bars, taxies, dog grooming services, everywhere. In fact, if you don’t tip, you’re a cheapskate.

Restaurant workers rely on their tips in the US, which is why service in that country is so good. Unlike most other countries in the world, American serving staff will tell you their name, ask how you are, and attend to you like you’re their best friend in the world. And until they receive their tip, you are.

There’s no set amount to tip in the US, but 20-25% is an appropriate practice of thumb to ensure good service and not be cheap. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, and anything where someone is providing a service to you at a cost, also expect the same percentage.

If you’re in a bar, you’ll also tip and tip well. Think around a dollar per drink. The bartender will become your friend and you might get a drink on the house later.

Hotel porters, food delivery guys, hotel housekeepers also expect a tip. Here, there’s no percentage to work out but a couple of bucks in the hand is the way to go.

Rule of thumb in the USA: Tip! 

3. Spain

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Like France, Spain has no tipping culture to speak of. This is the way of things throughout Europe.

Unlike France, though, there is no service charge added to restaurant bills. If you feel guilty about that, or if you’re feeling generous, add 5-10% onto the bill. Or go ahead and round it up to the nearest euro if you’re not feeling generous. Or don’t tip at all. Nobody will think any worse of you. This is Europe!

This goes for all over services, too.

Rule of thumb in Spain: See France.

4. China

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Think of China as two countries. A China where you tip, and a China where you don’t.

The China you tip in is where you, a foreigner, will most likely be. The China where the international hotels and restaurants are. This is the China where westerners are commonplace.

In this China, expect to tip 10-15% of the bill in restaurants, and to give bellhops and maids up to $5 for their help. If you feel like giving your waiter something directly, $1-$5 is also fine.

Many tourists in China take organized tours, and tour guides/drivers expect a gratuity. The unwritten rule here is to tip them about half as much as the cost of the tour.

The China you don’t tip in is the real China. The local restaurants, taxies, etc. They do not expect tipping here and tipping is often illegal. Nobody wants to be accused of accepting a bribe. Your best bet in the real, local China is not to tip or even offer to do so.

Rule of thumb in China: In western hotels, restaurants and tour companies, yes. Elsewhere, no. 

5. Italy

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Like France and Spain, tipping isn’t mandatory in Italy.

You see a charge on your restaurant bill called the “servizio”. We say “may” because the servizio applies to larger groups of eight or more people only. Unless it doesn’t, so check. It should be between 10 and 20% depending on the restaurant.

If there’s no servizio included, do what the Italians do and round up to the nearest ten euros.

Elsewhere in Italy, outside of restaurants, usual European rules apply. If you feel like it, tip. If not, don’t. Bear in mind that Italians don’t.

Rule of thumb in Italy: Check that restaurant bill!

6. United Kingdom

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Many restaurants in the UK add a 12.5% service charge to the bill, which covers the tip. But not all restaurants actually pay that tip to the server, so you might want to leave something for them (10-15%) yourself. This is not mandatory but is becoming expected.

Under no circumstances should you tip in pubs. You’ll get a weird look from the bartender if you try. But feel free to buy him or her a drink if you want. They’ll either take the money or pour themself a drink right there and then.

You don’t need to tip taxi drivers, although London cabbies may grumble a little if you expect change back from them. Elsewhere in the country, this doesn’t apply.

If you’re a tourist on some official tour with a guide, you might see a tip jar passed around at the end. Put whatever you want in there, but no more than 10% of what you paid for the tour.

Rule of thumb in the UK: Neither quite Europe or the US, tipping is more expected here than elsewhere in Europe, especially in London. But don’t sweat it too much.

7. Germany

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In German restaurants you should see a charge on your bill called “bedienung”. This is the service charge and is about 10%. Despite this, it’s common for Germans to pay another 5-10% when paying their bill direct to the server.

There’s a ritual here, to avoid embarrassment on both sides and avoid the perception of superiority from the customer to the server.

How it works is the customer tells the server what they’re paying and how much change they want. This is where they include the tip. For example, if the actual bill is 20 euros, the customer might pay 25 euros and ask for three euros in change. That way a 10% tip of two euros finds its way into the server’s hands without the word “tip” (“trinkgeld”) mentioned.

Another practice is to round up to the nearest whole figure.

Like elsewhere in Europe, you don’t tip in bars in Germany unless you’re at a table, and then the above rules apply.

Unlike other European countries, taxi drivers and hairdressers expect a 10% tip, although for short journeys you should round up with taxi drivers.

Anyone else, don’t tip.

Rule of thumb in Germany: Don’t embarrass restaurant staff by mentioning the tip!

8. Mexico

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If you’re an American in Mexico you’ll feel at home. This is a country with similar tipping customs to your own.

And if you’re a European in Mexico you’ll feel you’re in a much cheaper version of the US.

Bottom line is everyone expects a tip here, although not as much as the 20% required to look good in the US. Think more along the lines of 10-15%. That goes for restaurants, bars, and taxi drivers. Pretty much everyone, actually.

In high-end restaurants or places in major tourist areas you might see a service charge of 18% added to the bill, but that’s the exception rather than the norm. If you see this, there’s no need to pay anything more to the server.

In Mexico you’ll also run into street performers, shoe-shiners, car window washers, supermarket baggers, gas station attendants, and a myriad of others who work for cash alone. Do the right thing and give them all a few extra pesos. They’re poorer than you.

Rule of thumb in Mexico: Tip!

9. Thailand

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Thais themselves rarely tip, but as a foreigner you are expected to.

But you’re not expected to tip everywhere. Only in higher-end places, not so dissimilar to how it is in China.

So if you’re in a fine-dining establishment, you should give the server a tip in cash. 10% is enough. The less high-end the place, the less you tip. Tell them to keep the change in a mid-range place. Don’t tip at all when buying street food.

If you’re in a bar, it’s worth tipping a few baht to the bartender with the first drink so they’ll notice you and continue to serve you. If they ignore you after that first tip, don’t tip them again.

Taxi drivers don’t need tipping. You negotiate the fare before you get in and then pay the guy. This is the same deal with rickshaws and tuk-tuks. Whatever you negotiate will include a tip in the total for sure.

Like Mexico, Thailand is poor and people earn little. So if you can help anyone out with a few baht, it won’t break you and will make a big difference to them.

Rule of thumb in Thailand: Follow your conscience!

10. Turkey

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The main thing to remember in Turkey is to tip in cash only. Most of the time you won’t be able to use your card to pay “bahşiş”.

You’ll pay anywhere from 10 to 15% in restaurants, which you should give directly to the waiter to ensure he gets it. Street food and cheaper places only merit a 5% tip.

If you’re in a taxi, just round up the fair to the nearest whole number and give hotel staff a few Turkish lira when you can.

Turkey does have a tipping culture and if you don’t tip, people will notice. The lucky thing is the amount you’re tipping is small.

Rule of thumb in Turkey: Tip!

11. Austria

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The tipping culture of Austria is the same as Germany. See above for the full details.

Rule of thumb in Austria: Do what you’d do in Germany!

12. Malaysia

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Malaysia doesn’t have a tipping culture, and locals do not tip.

That means you don’t need to either. You might find a 10% service charge in some hotels or restaurants, but that’s about it.

Rule of thumb in Malaysia: Don’t tip!

13. Hong Kong

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Unlike elsewhere in China, tipping in Hong Kong is standard.

Most restaurants will have an automatic 10% added onto the bill and you need not add any more to this.

If you’re in a bar, you’ll get the same 10% service charge added to your bil lif you’re at a table, and no tip added if you’re at the bar itself. So if you want to give something to the bartender, feel free, although he or she won’t expect it.

Taxi drivers don’t expect tips either but telling them to keep the change is fine too, and they won’t object.

Rule of thumb in Hong Kong: Only if you feel like it!

14. Greece

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As the cradle of European civilization, Greece has a solid European view of tipping. Which is that it’s not neccesary. Greeks rarely tip and don’t expect you to either.

In restaurants you might find that the bill is automatically rounded up to the nearest whole Euro, which saves you from telling them to keep the change.

Eslewhere in the Greek economy, no-one else really expects a tip, although some taxi drivers in Athens might not give you your change back. That’s fine. Let them have it if it’s not too much.

In hotels, normal rules apply. Feel free to leave a little something for the staff if you want, and don’t if you don’t want.

Rule of thumb in Greece: Check to see if that restaurant bill is rounded up or not!

15. Russia

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Russia is new to tipping. For years, tipping was non-existant, but now it’s more common, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg where the tourists are. Elsewhere it’s still quite rare and many Russians would never dream of tipping themselves.

But as a foreigner in Russia, they’ll expect you to tip. Look at 5-10% in restaurants or tell them to keep the change.

Hotels, bars, taxi drivers, hairdressers, and everyone else requires no tip. For now. That might change one day though. You read it hear first.

Rule of thumb in Russia: Only in restaurants.

16. Japan

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Japan is simple when it comes to tipping. Don’t!

This is a country where a tip can be seen as an insult, and any attempt at trying to tip might cause awkwardness when the server turns you down.

The Japanese take great price in their jobs, whatever they are. The perception that you might think they are working for a tip is offensive. The service is great because of pride, not because of a promise of a tip.

Rule of thumb in Japan: Don’t tip!

17. Canada

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Like Mexico, Canada’s tipping customs are based on the US model. Virtually identical, in fact.

Expect to tip everyone, although the percentage is a little lower. Use 20% as the upper-end in Canada rather than the norm it is in the States.

Rule of thumb in Canada: Just like the States!

18. Saudi Arabia

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Like China, there are two Saudi Arabias. In the Saudi Arabia where you will be, tipping is accepted. In the “real” Saudi Arabia, almost no-one tips.

I say “almost” because nowadays some Saudis tip in restaurants or coffee houses as a form of giving alms. But they only tip foreign workers, who are the only people working in restaurants.

So how does this affect you, the foreigner in Saudi Arabia? It doesn’t really. Feel free to add 10-15% in restaurants if you want. It’s also worth tipping the concierge in your hotel upon arrival so they know who you are. Around $20 to $25 is enough.

Rule of thumb in Saudi Arabia: Only if you want.

19. Poland

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As another European country, follow the Euro-rules in Poland and only tip if you want, safe in the knoweldge it’s not a big deal if you don’t.

Tipping in Poland depends on level of service. If you receive great service in a restaurant tip 10-15%. In cafes or bars tell them to keep the change.

Unlike other parts of Europe, taxi drivers will expect a 10% tip for a speedy, safe ride. But the onuş is on you if you want to pay that. Hairdressers and other services don’t expect tips but will be grateful for something for a job well done. Again, 10% is the norm.

Rule of thumb in Poland: 10% (if you feel like it)!

20. South Korea

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By now after reading about tipping customs elsewhere in Asia, you won’t be surprised to learn that South Korea, too, does not tip.

Like in Japan, your attempt at tipping in a restaurant, bar, or any other type of business might well be turned for the same reasons mentioned in that country.

Rule of thumb in South Korea: Don’t tip!

21. The Netherlands

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The Netherlands lie in the heart of Europe and as such you’ll now know that the Dutch don’t tip. Which means you don’t have to, just like France, Germany, Austria, and so on.

Dutch restaurant workers earn quite good money, considering, and don’t rely on tips to survive. Also restaurants carry a 15% service charge, so the tip’s already in there. Most restaurants have a tip box at the counter, which the workers divide up at the end of the day, but formal tipping is not a thing.

You can if you want, but it’s uncommon.

Taxi drivers and other services don’t expect a tip either, but you can round up if you want. Most people don’t, though.

Rule of thumb in the Netherlands: Same as elsewhere in Europe. It’s not a big deal.

23. Hungary

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Hungary is one country in Europe where those accustomed to tipping everyone for everything will feel at home. Hungary tips.

5 to 10% is the norm, but unlike other countries in Europe, it’s expected. That’s in restaurants, bars, taxies, everywhere. The tipping culture extends to more people as you Learn more .Hungarians even tip doctors and dentists. This is a true tipping culture.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to tip hotel staff a couple of bucks as well. It’s rude if you don’t.

Rule of thumb in Hungary: Tip!

24. United Arab Emirates

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Unlike other Arab countries, the UAE has quite a vibrant tipping culture. It could be because of all the foreigners living there.

There are no hard and fast rules but expect to tip 10-15% in restaurants and bars, on top of the small service charge you’ll see on your bill.

Taxies will expect you to say keep the change, and if your stylist does a great job, you should give them another 10-15%.

Rule of thumb in the UAE: Tip!

25. India

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India has its own special word for tipping, one you may know already. “Baksheesh”. Baksheesh is demanded almost everywhere you go in India by almost everyone so it’s safe to say the country has a tipping culture.

You don’t have to give everyone baksheesh in India, but if you’re in a restaurant, 10-15% is the going rate. You’ll also see a service charge on your restaurant bill of 10-15% percent but that might well be to cover basic salaries rather than act as a tip.

It’s worth it in India to carry a roll of small banknotes (10 rupees) around with you wherever you go to smooth your way around with a little baksheesh.

Rule of thumb in India: Baksheesh baby!

26. Croatia

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Although considered Eastern Europe, Croatia has quite a Western European outlook to tipping. Meaning that it’s not a big deal and not many Croatians tip at all.

Restaurants are the main exception, where it’s considered normal to leave a 5-10% tip for the waiting staff. In bars and cafes people round up the bill and tell them to keep the change. The same with taxies and other service providers.

Rule of thumb in Croatia: Keep the change!

27. Ukraine

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Like neighboring Russia, Ukraine had no tipping customs until recently when more foreign visitors started arriving. Most Ukrainians will never tip anyone for anything.

But there are exceptions and many restaurants now have a 10% service change included, and then on top of that another 10-15% between the customer and the waiter, depending on service.

You can round up the bill in bars or with taxi drivers if you want, as well. And a little extra to hotel staff goes a long way.

But remember, it’s a new concept and if someone says they expect a tip, it’s only because you’re foreign.

Rule of thumb in Ukraine: Try to keep it to restaurants only.

28. Singapore

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Singapore sits at the bottom of the Malay Peninsula and shares the same tipping customs as its northern neighbor. Which is to say none.

Like Malaysia, restaurants carry a 10% service charge in the bill, which negates the need for tipping. Other service providers like taxi drivers won’t accept a tip from you either.

Rule of thumb in Singapore: Tipping not necessary.

29. Indonesia

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For an Asian country, it might be surprising to note that Indonesia has more of a tipping culture than many of its neighbors.

Restaurants should carry an automatic 10% service charge but it’s common to pay another 10% on top directly to the server.

Hotels have an automatic 11% service charge to spilt between workers, although they will still accept a small amount of money from you for help given.

If you take a taxi, expect to round up and tell them to keep the change. Hairdressers and others will also expect a tip, the amount of which depends on your satisfaction with them.

Rule of thumb in Indonesia: Tip!

30. Czech Republic

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The Czech Republic is another European country with a European attitude to tipping.

Czech citizens rarely tip in their own country but they expect foreigners to, with the general amount being around 10% in restaurants. If you’re in a café or bar, you can round up the bill like elsewhere in Europe and tell them to keep the change. This is the same with taxes.

Bear in mind, this is all in Prague, the capital city, where all the tourists are. Outside of the capital, in rural areas, tipping is unheard of, even for foreigners.

Rule of thumb: Tip in Prague.

Phew! So that’s the tipping customs in the 30 most-visited countries in 2018.

A marathon trip around the world, and a lot to take in, we know. But we hope it helps you when traveling this year and going forward.

The easiest thing to do is whatever local people do. It’s hard to go to wrong that way. Happy travels and happy tipping!