How do I know what to tip?

Tipping customs vary greatly from country to country. If you get things wrong, you can be exposed to significant embarrassment, so here are a few tipping dos and don'ts for some of the most common - and one or two unusual - destinations.


In restaurants in France, service must be included in the total amount by law, so there is no need for an additional tip. Tip taxi drivers 10 percent of the fare, and porters one euro per bag.

Restaurants in Italy usually implement a cover charge, so a tip is not generally expected, although a small-amount (say 5 percent) is appreciated. It is not strictly necessary to tip taxis, but porters expect a euro or two.

In Germany a service charge of 15 percent is included in a restaurant charge. It is usual to round this figure up to an exact number of euros. If however, more than one person is dining, the tip should be increased to between 3 percent and 5 percent (ending in a full euro amount).

Tipping in Spain traditionally is loose change in restaurants, but 3-5 percent is becoming more the norm today.

In Belgium, tipping is rare, as restaurant, hairdresser and taxi charges include service. If you're particularly happy with the service you've received, then you can round up the bill (but by never more than 10 percent). Similarly, in Holland, rounding up is always appreciated.

In the United Kingdom, when a gratuity or service charge is not added in a restaurant, people normally add around 10% as a tip. Around 10% is also expected in a taxi, while small tips of 1 or 2 pounds are often given in hairdressers and hotels.

The Americas

In the US tips can be the major source of income for people in the service industry and anything less than 15 percent in a restaurant will be sniffed at. Bartenders expect a couple of dollars in the pot, even if you are standing at the bar (fail to do this and buying the next round might take a long time) and taxi drivers expect a 15 percent tip.

Gratuities or service charges are normally not included in restaurants in Canada. Tip between 15 percent and 20 percent, according to how satisfied you are. You should also tip all kinds of service people in hotels - not just those who carry your bags.

In Mexico a small tip is expected for almost any service, and in restaurants the amount you leave is entirely at your discretion.


In Japan tipping is simply not done and could be considered an insult.

In China waiters will often refuse even the smallest tip.

In South Korea, tipping is neither required nor expected, but most luxury hotels and restaurants add a compulsory 10 percent service charge. In North Korea tipping is not only impolite, but also illegal.

Hong Kong restaurants usually add 10 percent service charge, but you can add a further 5 percent to 10 percent if you're really satisfied.


Tipping in Australia is generally not expected, but 10 percent after a meal is polite and taxi fares can be rounded up to the nearest dollar.

Tipping is not customary or required in New Zealand. However, a tip of around 10 percent for exceptional service will be happily accepted.

Wherever your trip takes you, it's always a good idea to at least check on the expectations for tipping taxi drivers and hotel staff before you set off.

Bruce Gibson runs Spanish villas rental company Villa Spain, which has many Costa Blanca villas and a wide selection across other resorts in Spain.