Tipping in Europe – Service Etiquette Abroad

in Travel Advice

While tipping is an expected practice in North America, it’s less common in other parts of the world. Learning when to tip, and how much, can save you money when you’re dining abroad. We’ve already looked at tipping practices in Asia, so now we turn our focus to Europe.

Europe doesn’t face the same etiquette issues that Asia does. No waiter will feel embarrassed if you slip a few extra euros his way. However many Americans tend to tip well over what’s expected. While a tip of 10% in the USA means a dining experience was poor to average, in Europe it’s considered very generous. Remember that, unlike in the States, wait staff in Europe don’t rely on their tips to make a living. For this reason, you should never tip in Europe if you do not enjoy excellent service.

Make sure to check your receipt carefully, as many establishments simply add a service charge to the bill which covers your tip. This is very common in Belgium, England, France, Ireland, and Scotland. If you’re particularly impressed by the service you may wish to simply round up to the nearest euro, but it’s not really necessary. However extra tipping of between 5 and 10% on top of the service charges for exemplary service isn’t unusual in Austria, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland.

When a service charge isn’t added, there are countries where tipping is customary. If this charge isn’t printed on the bill, you might consider leaving a small tip of around 10% in the Czech Republic (particularly in the tourist areas), Italy, Scotland, and Ireland. While service charges are never added to the bills in Hungary, a tip of between 10 and 15% is customary.

There are exceptions to the rule though. Restaurants in Germany and Greece tend to slug you twice though. While service charges are typically added to the bills in Germany, a 10% tip is also customary. In Greece, you should leave a tip of between 5 and 10% in addition to the 13% service charge.

It’s also worth noting that even if it’s not itemized, a service charge will generally be added to the restaurant bills in Spain. No additional payment is required, although if you’re feeling particularly generous you can offer an extra tip. Just make sure you keep it under 10% of the bill.

Euro coinsEven when you’re paying with credit, it’s best to tip your wait staff with cash. This will ensure the money goes to the server rather than the restaurant. Also resist the urge to throw some extra money at your bartender. Tipping at pubs and clubs isn’t necessary, so keep you money in your wallet for the next night’s drinks!

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