Tipping is standard (but still controversial) practice in the US. But what about traveling abroad? Here's your comprehensive guide to international tipping.

Americans might have a reputation for over-generous tipping abroad, but habits vary here at home.

And while many people would agree that 20 percent is a “good tip” for a server, how much is enough to express gratitude to other service employees?

It only gets more confusing when you travel internationally. Depending on the country you visit, you could offend either by tipping too much (or at all) or not enough. Tipping in different countries can be complex. In this guide we save you the headache of trying to guess. Read on to find out when and how much to tip in every part of the globe.

Europe and the UK

In a part of the world where some fast food workers earn $20/hour, tips aren’t relied upon for wages like they are in the US. Instead, tipping in Europe is mostly about showing appreciation for great service. In some countries it’s not even a custom—if you travel in Scandinavia, a service charge may appear on your bill but you shouldn’t leave anything extra.

In other places there’s nothing wrong with leaving an extra 10 percent even if service is already included. But always read your bill carefully to understand what you’re already paying before you decide to leave more.

Whether you leave the change from your bill or add 10 percent to the total, try to leave tips in cash and use the local currency if you can. If you add the tip to a credit card or leave it on the table, you can’t be sure it will end up in your server’s hands. Give tips directly to the person you wish to thank.

Restaurants

  • The size of your tip should be proportionate to the size of your order and the fanciness of the café, bar, or restaurant.
  • It’s fine to leave change for a coffee or drink.
  • In most European countries, 5 percent is a fair tip for a casual or daytime meal. Leave 10 percent after a nice dinner in a more upscale restaurant.
  • If a gratuity charge is already part of your bill you won’t offend anyone by leaving more, but you won’t be cursed if you don’t.
  • Leave a tip to reward exceptional service, not simply to be polite.

Hotels

As a savvy Money Under 30 reader, you probably won’t book the kind of hotel in which porters carry your bags and an all-knowing concierge gets you a reservation at the hottest 5-star restaurant in town. Why throw away your money on that when you could have a very pleasant experience in a hostel or Airbnb rental?

But if you end up staying at a cheaper hotel, you may still wonder how much to tip the housekeeping staff. And what about the friendly employees who pour your coffee and clean up after your complimentary breakfast?

  • Leave your housekeeper up to five euros per day. You can either leave the tip on your pillow each morning or add it all up and leave a lump sum at the end of your stay.
  • In most countries, dining room staff don’t expect tips but you can leave one or two euros a day if you feel it’s warranted.

Taxis

Across the continent, a tip for a taxi driver means rounding up to the next euro.

Asia

As in Scandinavia, Asian countries adhere to a mostly no-tipping culture. In restaurants, check your bill for a service charge. If it’s already added, you don’t need to leave more, especially in China, Japan, and South Korea. In the rest of Asia it’s fine to leave a little extra on top of the service charge. If a tip hasn’t been added you should leave up to 10 percent of the total.

If you take a taxi, tell the driver to keep the change. And in hotels, it’s fine to leave the local equivalent of a dollar or two per day for the housekeeping staff, but make sure you give it to them directly or leave it at the front desk. Before you tip, check to see if a service charge is included in your bill.

The Middle East

Restaurants

  • In the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, use American standards of 15-20 percent to leave a tip.
  • In other Middle Eastern countries including Israel, check the bill to see if a service charge is part of the total.
  • If it is but you want to leave more, add an additional 5-10 percent.
  • If service isn’t included you should leave a 10-15 percent tip.

Hotels

  • Tip the housekeeping staff daily instead of at the end of your stay.
  • A standard tip ranges from the local equivalent of $1-$5/day.

Taxis

You should round up or add about ten percent of the total.

Latin America

The average restaurant tip is 10 percent in Latin and South American countries. As with other regions of the world, check your bill to see if the gratuity has already been added to the total. If not, leave your own tip. It’s also okay to leave a little more—up to 15 percent—if you feel the service was exceptional.

In some countries, you’ll have to negotiate cab fare with the driver. In these instances you don’t need to tip. In all other taxi situations, round up or add a 10 percent tip.

If you stay in a hotel, leave the local equivalent of $1-$2/day for the housekeeper.

Elsewhere

Australia and New Zealand

Tipping guidelines are similar to American standards:

  • 10-15 percent tip on a restaurant check
  • $1-$5/day for the hotel cleaner
  • Around $5 tip for cab drivers

Africa

Leave about 10 percent for your server in restaurants, a few dollars a day for the hotel housekeeper, and round up to tip taxi drivers.

Canada

Tip here as you would in the US.

How do you go about tipping in different countries?

Tipping etiquette in other countries may vary, but one thing is almost universally true: It’s hard to go wrong with gratuity. Yes, you should keep your travel costs down as much as possible, so don’t over-tip. But there’s no need to worry about getting it exactly right. Most people will appreciate the gesture, whatever its size.

How have you handled tips while traveling abroad? What countries do you tip in? Tell us about it in the comments.

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About the author

Elizabeth Spencer
Total Articles: 36
Elizabeth Helen Spencer is a personal finance and travel writer based in the Philadelphia area. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and still nurses a secret fiction writing habit on the side. When not writing for work or pleasure, she loves to sweat it out in a hot yoga class and find new books to read. Elizabeth lives with her husband and two children and has reached the conclusion that "having it all" is a myth.