Tip­ping abroad

Who and how much should you tip when abroad?

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

Tip­ping eti­quette varies from coun­try to coun­try – in the US it can feel like you have to tip ev­ery­one gen­er­ously, while in Ja­pan tips are never ex­pected.


US es­tab­lish­ments usu­ally don’t in­clude ser­vice charges in the bill. In restau­rants you typ­i­cally add 15-25 per cent, with high-end restau­rants tend­ing to­wards 25 per cent. If a waiter or wait­ress per­forms phe­nom­e­nally well, the tip could climb to 30 per cent.

The gen­eral rule for tip­ping bar­tenders is US$1 per drink. Porters re­ceive US$1-2 per bag and taxi driv­ers are usu­ally given 10-15 per cent. Cof­fee shops or fast food restau­rants may put tip jars next to the cash regis­ter; how­ever, do not feel obliged to leave a tip. Over­the-counter ser­vices gen­er­ally are not re­warded with tips. Hair­dressers, masseuses and other per­sonal ser­vices are typ­i­cally tipped 15-20 per cent.


Un­like the US, many restau­rants and some cafés and gas­trop­ubs (pubs serv­ing qual­ity meals) in the UK add a ser­vice charge of 10-12.5 per cent to the bill. Where this is added, no tip is ex­pected. Oth­er­wise, it’s cus­tom­ary to tip 10 per cent.

In pubs, tip­ping bar staff is not com­mon. On oc­ca­sion, you might buy the bar­tender a drink. As for taxis, it is cus­tom­ary to round up to the near­est pound and let the driver keep the change, or tip 10 per cent if it’s a long jour­ney. Porters tend to re­ceive around £2 (US$2.7) for their ser­vice, maybe £5 (US$6.8) at a higher-end ho­tel.

Tip­ping cus­toms across Europe are broadly sim­i­lar to the UK, with slight vari­a­tions from coun­try to coun­try.


Tip­ping in most Asian coun­tries is less widely prac­tised than in the US, UK or Europe. In China it’s very rare, though up­mar­ket restau­rants may garner a mea­gre 2-3 per cent in tips. Western­ised cities such as Hong Kong and Ma­cau in­cor­po­rate 10-15 per cent ser­vice charges, so there’s no need to tip on top of that. In most other cases, such as taxis or ho­tels, no tip is given. How­ever, in Hong Kong, bell­boys usu­ally re­ceive HK$5- 10 (US$0.6-1.3) per piece of lug­gage.


Restau­rants in In­dia usu­ally ac­cept 7-10 per cent tips, but the larger the bill, the lower the per­cent­age. For ex­am­ple, on bills above Rs1,000 (US$15), a 5-7 per cent tip will suf­fice. Restau­rants in Delhi and Mum­bai of­ten in­cor­po­rate ser­vice charges, negat­ing the need to tip.

In ho­tels, one usu­ally tips for the en­tire ho­tel staff, gen­er­ally 5-7 per cent and usu­ally put in a tip­ping box near the front desk. Some­times, if there are no tip­ping boxes, bell­boys will ex­pect a small tip. There is no need to pay porters, au­torick­shaw or taxi driv­ers more than the agreed fare.


Tip­ping in Ja­pan is never ex­pected. Of­fered tips will be re­fused and may be con­sid­ered of­fen­sive. The only ex­cep­tions are tour guides. Al­though it is not obli­ga­tory, tour guides do ac­cept tips and will not be in­sulted by the ges­ture.


Most coun­tries in the Mid­dle East will ex­pect to see 10-15 per cent tips at restau­rants. Cities such as Dubai typ­i­cally add 10-15 per cent ser­vice charges to the bill, though it is still cus­tom­ary to tip an ad­di­tional 5-6 per cent on top of that.

Taxi driv­ers are not usu­ally tipped, but some ho­tel staff may ex­pect around 10 per cent. In Is­rael, the stan­dard tip for porters is six shekels (US$1.7) per bag and four shekels (US$1.1) per day for house­keep­ers.


South Africa has an in­for­mal sys­tem of tip­ping car guards, R2R5 (16-40 US cents), to as­sist you with park­ing and dis­cour­age thieves as theft is so preva­lent. Tip­ping at restau­rants in South Africa is usu­ally around 10 per cent, but it is cus­tom­ary to tip 10-20 per cent to bar­tenders. Ho­tel porters get be­tween R10-R100 (US$0.8-8) and in cabs the to­tal cost is rounded up to the near­est R10 (US$0.8).


Nei­ther Aus­tralia nor New Zealand have strong cul­tures of tip­ping. Tip­ping is never so­cially re­quired, so it’s all up to the cus­tomer. It is slightly more com­mon with taxis and ho­tels than restau­rants – A$2 (US$1.5) might be given to cab driv­ers or bell­hops.


Tip­ping tour guides is com­mon, gen­er­ally 10 per cent of the cost. Ho­tel door­men tend to re­ceive equiv­a­lents of US$1-2, and taxi driv­ers ac­cept tips, though it’s not ex­pected. In coun­tries such as Paraguay and Peru ser­vice work­ers are not paid much, so tip­ping is al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated. In restau­rants, if there’s no ser­vice charge, tips are around 10 per cent – higher or lower de­pend­ing on ser­vice.

In the US it can feel like you have to tip ev­ery­one gen­er­ously, while in Ja­pan tips are never ex­pected

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