Guide to International Tipping Etiquette

Guide to International Tipping Etiquette

It is a little known fact, that if you tip in Japan, you have a 90% chance of being beaten around the head with a stick.   Fail to tip in parts of America, regardless of how terrible the service, and you will be chased out of town with pitch-forks. These are verifiable facts by the way.

Tipping, you would think, is a perfectly decent and normal way of showing your appreciation for good service.  Well, no, because one thing I have learnt from my extensive travels, is that trying to be decent and normal on foreign lands can often land you in a steaming hot pile of poop.

In order to avoid further diplomatic incidents, and as part of our campaign to equip travellers with as much useless information as their heads can carry, we give you the following (extremely) rough guide to international tipping etiquette.

Now, this list is by no means exhaustive, and is you’re seriously interested in the accepted tipping behaviour in Equatorial Guinea, then we can only suggest you jump on a plane, take your chances and find out for yourself.  But please, try not to get beaten around the head with a stick.


Australians don’t tip (that is according to a mad-eyed taxi driver I once encountered in London).  Of course they do, occasionally, but tipping is not expected in Australia. The temptation is to say don’t bother, but then again, tipping in a country where most people don’t tip will make you appear a good deal more generous than you actually are. Good for the ego, especially if the waitress is fit.


I once asked an American if he gave tips, he said, “Yes, don’t go to Canada”. Not quite what I was after, but noted nonetheless.  Tipping is commonplace in America.  A tip of around 15% – to 20% of the bill is normal. So normal, in fact, that it is often added to the bill.  Service charge my ass!  Any charge included in the bill itself ceases to be anything other than part of the bill surely? Go figure.

In bars there is usually a tip jar within reach, so chuck a dollar or two in there after every other drink and the bartender should be happy.  If settling you bill as you leave then a up to a dollar for every drink consumed and you’ll sent on your way with wave and a smile.

Taxi drivers are usually given around 10% – 20% of the fare depending on the service received (help carrying bags etc). Porters and such like are also left tips of around one to five dollars a bag (notes never coins).  If the service you receive is exceptional then feel free to tip more. Factor leaving tips into your spending budget when visiting the States.


I once asked a Canadian if he gave tips, he said, “Yes, don’t come to Canada”.  Again, you can calculate the size of your tips based on the level of tax (around 5%) so triple that and you’re on safe ground.  In hotels it is good manners to tip for the extras; for example the valet, room service or a member of staff arranging excursions. Bars and Coffee shops may have a tip jar but it is not expected to leave a tip for counter service. If you feel you need to leave a gesture of gratitude perhaps leave the coin change from your purchase and you would not be considered to be rude for not leaving a tip in this situation. As with most countries hospitality workers are not paid particularly well, so tips are relied upon to boost income. If the service received is poor don´t leave a tip.


Tipping in China is not expected and can sometimes cause offence, so much so that in some establishments they will instruct you not to leave a gratuity.  If you’re in any way uncomfortable with this, console yourself with the fact that the Government are already milking you for a bit extra simply because you are a foreigner!


Tipping in Egypt is a way of life. Tipping happens everywhere, even when using the toilets a tip of around 1/2 to one Egyptian dollar is expected. Wages in Egypt are low so tip well and the recipient will be able to buy a house (joke). If taking a river tour or similar excursions you will usually be asked to tip the crew and the end of the trip.


Tipping in France is the law and is included in the prices displayed in bars and restaurants (damn those Frenchies for their excessive regulation!) It is not expected but usually people will leave any loose change after drinks or leave a small tip after a meal, typically no more than 2 or 3 euros.


German’s themselves are not regarded as generous tippers, nevertheless they do tend to leave something.  In Germany itself is is customary that a small tip is left for good service.  It is important to know that some places in Germany do not accept credit cards (only cash or debit cards) so check first. Often tips are added to the bill when paying by card.  Simply instruct the waiter to add the gratuity to the bill total (this is common across Europe now).

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong it is customary to round up to the nearest dollar when paying for services. Some restaurants will include a service charge of around 10% on the bill.


Generally speaking, tipping in Italy is not expected, but rounding up on a taxi journey or leaving the loose change after drinks or a light meal is always appreciated.


Never tip in Japan, it is considered the height of bad manners, as is checking you change (a quick glance will suffice if necessary). Manners and hygiene are extremely important issues to the Japanese, so try to remain as polite and discreet as possible at all times.


Tipping is not expected in Spain but it is seen to be polite to leave a small gesture of a couple of euros after a meal or the loose change after a drink. With Taxis most people will just round up. In hotels people will give a few euros for carrying bags or for help with arranging trips and excursions.

United Kingdom

In the UK you would not usually tip in a bar, and would instead simply offer to buy the bartender a drink. In coffee shops leave small change if you wish. In restaurants use your discretion and leave a tip if you feel the service warrants it.  There is no set amount (use 10% as a guide if you wish), but tips will vary hugely depending on the person leaving the tip. With taxis round up if you wish (this is standard etiquette). In hotels you might want to give porters a pound coin for room service etc. If no tip is left it will not usually cause any offence.


Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *