Tipping & Gratuity Guidelines For International TravelAmericans can sometimes be loud, boorish, and extroverted. We’re the class clowns of the world. But we’re also the biggest tippers. We know that clowns are laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside, right? According to Michael Lynn, associate professor of market and consumer behavior at the Center for Hospitality at Cornell University, countries with more “extroverted” and “neurotic” people gave tips to the greatest number of services and also tipped the largest amounts – with the U.S. topping both categories.
Based on this reasoning, it makes sense that in countries where decorum, group-thinking and introversion are king, tipping would be low. You’d be right in countries like Japan, where if you tip, it could be seen as a mistake on your part (the waiter may chase you down to tell you that you left money on the table). But how do you explain the lack of tipping in Australia or New Zealand, whose big-mouthed, extroverted drinking culture rivals our own? Answer: Aussies in the service industry don’t depend on tips for their income.
So what’s tipping like in the rest of the world?
Germany: When I traveled to Germany a year ago, I remember being told it was not necessary to tip as much as in the U.S. I assumed it was because the Germans were too proud to take tips or something stoic like that (being from hardy German and Polish stock myself). Turns out the waitresses in Germany actually make a livable wage—a monthly salary considerably higher than U.S. minimum wage. So if they get tips from clueless Americans, they get to keep them! Tips are generally less than 10%. Taxi drivers get 10%.
England: A service charge of 12.5% is usually included at restaurants. For taxis, a 10% tip is generally expected. The exception is at that British institution, the local pub. If you are impressed with the barkeep’s service, do not tip cash at the bar in a pub. Offer to buy them a drink, like a half pint of beer, or small spirit.
France, a service charge is usually included in the bill at the end of your meal; if not, 15% is pretty standard. Taxi drivers generally don’t expect to be tipped.
Switzerland: Apparently tipping has been ABOLISHED in Switzerland, and a 15% “service charge” has been included in all hotel, restaurant and taxi bills. However, if you had a jolly time and wish to show your appreciation, they are not going to call the cops on you if you leave an extra 10%.
Japan: Tipping is not required and in fact may cause embarrassment or offense to those tipped. If the bellboy stands an extra moment in your hotel room, he’s not waiting for a tip, he’s likely waiting to make sure you get settled in properly. Customer service (*gasp*)!
China: Don’t tip anywhere. Try not to think about how you’re generally charged more for everything because you’re a foreigner – by your friendly neighborhood Chinese government.
Hong Kong: Taxi drivers don’t expect tips unless they are taking you to the airport or the MTR station which connects with the airport, when the cost of carrying luggage increases.
Brazil: Tipping, like the lifestyle in Brazil, is flexible. If you feel like tipping, do. If you don’t, then don’t! Nobody cares! Then have a drink, dahling, you look tired.
Ethiopia: Tipping is not required, unless you want to show your enjoyment of a dancer, in which case you are to stick a paper bill on their forehead. Which you should only do if the dancer in question has a light film of sweat on their forehead.
Canada: It’s probably because of its proximity to the U.S. but most service staff in Canada expect something in the 10-20% tip range, depending on what city and the level of service. Tipping differs however depending on whether you are in French or English Canada. Tipping is expected for restaurants, bars, food delivery and taxis In Montreal, tips for a good meal at a good restaurant with good service should be tipped more.
Asia and the Pacific: Special care must be taken to insure that your well-meaning gesture is not taken as insulting. If you are unsure, it is best not to tip. If possible, observe the locals and follow their lead.
Europe: Many hotels and restaurants add a service charge to the bill. In most cases, an additional tip is unnecessary. If no service charge is added to your bill 10% is the general rule for restaurant service, a dollar per bag will be appreciated.
Middle East/Africa: While your tip will not be seen as insulting, it may be unnecessary. Once again, the best bet is to do as the locals do.
Central/South America: Many hotels and restaurants add a service charge to the bill, and an additional tip is unnecessary. If not, 10% is the general rule for restaurant service, and a dollar per bag will be appreciated.
"When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” ~ William Least Heat Moon