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Tipping etiquette around the world

Euro banknotesBritish travellers may be renowned as the world’s worst tippers, especially when it comes to foreign travel.

Often, we’ve no idea when to tip, or how much to offer when we do. And many of us begrudge offering extra cash unless the service provided has been something way above the ordinary.

A Tripadvisor survey found that 60 per cent of Britons did not know how much to tip in foreign countries compared with the European average of 45 per cent.

The research also found that 16 per cent of UK travellers had been confronted by angry workers after failing to tip.

Emma O’Boyle at Tripadvisor said: “In the UK tipping is relatively straightforward but that seems to have resulted in some British travellers taking other country's tipping rules for granted.”

In a bid to clear up any confusion, we’ve taken a look at tipping customs around the world to help holidaymakers understand what’s expected of them, and what kind of gratuities they should think about paying in a variety of circumstances.

Restaurants and bars

Even in the UK, tipping is common for sit-down meals: we pay an average of 10 per cent to waiting staff, but are unlikely to leave gratuities in bars or pubs, even when we’re being served food.

In the US, on the other hand, restaurant tips of up to 20 per cent are not uncommon — if you leave the bare minimum of 10 per cent, don’t be surprised if you’re asked whether you’ve had any problems with the service.

Some countries such as Italy and France may include service charges in the bill, but they would still expect a smaller tip of 5 to 10 per cent on top of that, especially if service has been good.


Again, the US demands the highest tips at between 10 and 15 per cent of your fare. The same custom applies in France and Germany, but you shouldn’t expect to pay extra to cabbies in Italy, Greece or Australia (in fact tipping down under is even less common than in the UK).

Hotel staff

Some foreign hotels will include a service charge in their bills: if not, you can expect to tip porters a few euros or dollars for carrying bags to and from your room, for example. 

These tips are more discretionary; and you shouldn’t expect to pay anything in Australia or Denmark, for example.


 Many cruises now offer all-inclusive prices which mean there is no need to leave tips — a great idea for bewildered Brits.

On many liners this system has replaced mandatory tipping, which in the past has added hundreds of pounds to the cost of a typical trip.

Getting it right at home

Of course our confusion over tipping doesn’t only apply when we’re overseas: many of us aren’t sure of what’s expected in this country.

The etiquette guide Debrett’s tells visitors to Britain that tipping in restaurants is normally at the customer’s discretion, but adds “it is more discretionary in some places than others”. A gratuity of 10 per cent is common where service is not included.

Debrett’s also says that it is acceptable to ask for an automatically added tip to be removed whenever service has been poor.

In “smarter” hotels, porters should be given a pound or two per item of luggage carried, and guests should leave a banknote — presumably more than a fiver — in their room for housekeeping staff upon departure.

The guide adds: “Tipping is also commonplace in hair and beauty salons, and in taxis: use your discretion, but err on the side of generosity.”

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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