This blog post was updated on September 28, 2018.
With National Waiter/Waitress Day
this today, it never hurts to brush up on just how those servers should be tipped. For many travelers, figuring out tipping in another country can be intimidating and downright stressful. Especially in Europe, tipping can be like deciphering a new language. Popular to visit and packed with countries with different customs, Europe has its own set of rules that travelers must know before they sit at the table. Here are a few tips on tipping in Europe.
Look For a Service Charge on the Bill: As tipping practices can vary from country to country in Europe, you can be utterly confused as you travel from one land to the next. If you are unsure when the bill arrives as to what to tip, a good place to look for a clue is the bill itself. There might be a service charge listed on the bill, as is the case in Italy. Sometimes this charge is listed as a separate charge or it is included within the prices for items on the menu. Travelers should do a quick scan of the menu before ordering to see if there is anything about service being included. If you don’t see it listed on the menu, the bill should tell you whether service is included or not.
Don’t Overdo It: In the U.S., it is not uncommon to tip 20% on a meal. However, tipping such a large percentage almost anywhere in Europe will be met with strange glances. If the service deems a tip and you don’t see service included on the bill, you can always leave the change. Tipping anywhere from 5% to 10% isn’t seen as rude in Europe. Tipping more than 10% can be seen as excessive if not rude. In general, servers are paid well so they don’t have to survive on tips, as can be the case in other countries. If you are unsure what to leave in Europe, you can usually just round up the bill to avoid a tipping faux pas.
Always Tip in Cash: Back home, you might be used to leaving a tip in the dedicated line on the receipt after paying by credit card. If you tip through a credit card in Europe, you might be considered rude and not even know it. Tipping by credit card in Europe does not ensure that the waiter or waitress who helped you will actually receive that tip. It is best to tip in cash if you want to ensure that your server receives the tip. Also, don’t just throw down your cash and leave. Travelers should be sure to hand the cash to the server to avoid petty theft at the restaurant.
Research Tipping Practices at Your Destination: While you can practice the above tips to figure out if you should or shouldn’t tip in Europe, every country is a little bit different in their tipping customs. Tipping practices will vary from Germany to Croatia. Before you go, you should always research how much or how little you should tip in your destination’s country. Every country is a little bit different, especially for different scenarios like restaurants, cabs and tours. In order to remember what you researched, write down a little note on tipping for your destination and place it in your wallet so that you will never forget or have to carry around a guidebook to remember. If you are still unsure when you find yourself in the tipping position, just ask someone.