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In Which Countries Should You Tip, and How Much?

A gratuity is expected in some countries, but taken as an insult in others

Tip a Japanese waiter, and they’ll be insulted. Don’t tip an American one, and you’ll get the same result. 

A gratuity, the amount paid on top of the actual bill, is typically paid directly to restaurant and bar staff, taxi drivers, hotel workers and other service personnel.

Although essentially a voluntary appreciation of the quality of services rendered, tipping has become customary or even expected in some countries. In others, it’s positively frowned upon. So where should you pay – and how much? This map should keep you out of trouble.

  • Purple: Don’t tip – you risk insulting people. This is the case in Japan, South Korea, Georgia and Iceland. 
  • Light blue: Don’t tip – you’ll unduly surprise or confuse people. They even might attempt to return your money, creating embarrassment all round. This may happen in Peru, Bolivia, Spain, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Thailand. 
  • Dark blue: Don’t tip – it’s not expected. But if you do, people will react pleasantly surprised, or neutral at worst. That’s how it goes in China, Iran, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Macedonia, Brazil and Paraguay.
  • Light green: Rounding up the bill is a nice way to leave a small tip, but this is not expected. This is the case in Ireland, the UK, Portugal, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Sweden.
  • Dark green: Rounding up the bill is expected in France, Italy, Hungary, Greece and Latvia.
  • Light yellow: You can leave a 5-10% tip, but it is not expected. That’s how it is in Ecuador, Argentina, Austria, Albania, Turkey and India.
  • Dark yellow: That 5-10% tip is expected in Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania and Russia.
  • Light orange: If you leave a tip, make it around 10%. But don’t feel obliged. This is the case in Colombia, Slovakia and Estonia.
  • Dark orange: Do leave that 10% tip in Cuba, Uruguay and Bulgaria.
  • Pink(ish): A tip should be around 10-15%, but is not expected, in Serbia.
  • Red: Leave a tip of around 10-15% in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt and Armenia.
  • Dark red: Leave a tip of around 15-20% in the United States.
  • Oh, and remember, in some cases, tipping is illegal: don’t ever try to offer a gratuity to government workers – that’s bribery! (See #863).

    UPDATE – is a comprehensive guide to gratuities per country and per sector (restaurants, hotels, tour operators, etc.) It also provides information on whether cash payment is preferred. Thanks, David Weintraub!

    Map found here at Wikipedia.

    Strange Maps #869

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