How much should you tip while travelling?

Whether you're travelling in Canada or abroad, knowing when and how much you should tip your server is important for keeping yourself in the locals' good graces.

How much should you tip while travelling?

Canada

During 2014, the mobile payment company Square Canada, reported that people in the city of Ottawa were the most generous tippers in Canada.

  • Apparently, 76 per cent of Ottawans tip, at an average rate of 15.6 per cent.
  • In Toronto and Montreal, between 65 and 70 per cent of people tip, at 14.5 per cent of the bill.
  • In Calgary and Vancouver, people tip between 59 and 62 per cent of the time, at an average rate of 13.3 per cent.
  • Giving a gratuity in Canada is optional, but when eating at a restaurant a tip is usually expected to be around 15 per cent of the total bill before tax, and 20 per cent when the service is excellent.
  • Bartenders and cocktail servers are usually happy with 15 to 20 per cent, or simply keeping the change from the bill payment.

USA

As with Canada, a gratuity is between 15 and 20 per cent, while bartenders should be given $1 to $2 per drink ordered.

United Kingdom

  • Generally, tips of around 10 to 15 per cent are acceptable. Bartenders in pubs don't expect tips, although they won't be offended if you round up the bill or tell them to keep the change.

Europe

  • Tipping rates in Europe are generally lower than those in North America, and average 5 to 10 per cent.
  • In countries like Switzerland and Norway, tipping is not expected because basic wages are good and servers don't need tips to survive.
  • In these countries, it's customary to round up the bill to the nearest 10th or 100th.

Middle East and Asia

  • Normally, gratuities are 10 to 15 per cent, but don't tip waiters in mainland China or Japan, as it's considered an insult.
  • Accepting a tip from a customer may even lead to a server being disciplined.

South America

  • Tipping is not customary in Brazil, but 10 to 15 per cent is the norm in other regional countries.
  • Hand the tip to your server personally, rather than leaving it on the table.

South of the equator

South African servers expect a 10 to 15 per cent tip, while in Australia and New Zealand it's not necessary to tip unless you feel the service was very good.

What else should you know about international tipping?

Many restaurants in a variety of countries automatically add a service fee onto the bill, which is usually around 10 per cent of the total.

  • If there is a service charge, you're not expected to tip your server, although it can still be given for exceptional service.
  • If you are paying by credit card, there may be an extra section for the gratuity amount, but many waiters usually prefer to get their tips in cash.
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