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Tip Etiquette: The Gratuity Guide for Restaurant Dining in Europe

Giving a tip for a waiter or leaving a small money envelope in a hotel room for the housekeeping staff is a common tradition in most countries. Although tipping is almost second nature in Great Britain, did you know in other European countries they have different rules when it comes to tipping? If you're going on holiday or considering working abroad, it's important to know what the tip etiquette is so you can avoid insulting anyone. Check out our Gratuity Guide to find out the tipping etiquette you definitely need to know!



The Gratuity Rules in Europe


Great Britain


In Great Britain, it's customary to tip at a restaurant if you're happy with the meal. Unlike the US or Canada where it's expected you leave a tip, you have more choice when dining in Great Britain. If you enjoyed the meal and service, leave a tip, if you're unhappy, keep hold of your cash. Usually the tip is 10-15% of your bill, however in recent years this has increased to 20%.


If you're buying food at a fast food restaurant, it's not appropriate to tip. 


In some restaurants, you might notice a service charge of 10-12.5% on your bill, this is equivalent to your tip. You'll likely only see it at certain restaurants or if you're part of big group of customers. The service charge should be paid unless you're seriously unhappy with the service/food, then let your waiter/waitress know so they can remove it from the bill. 




In France you don't have to worry about working out the tip percentage because it'll be automatically put onto your bill as a service charge. This additional payment will go to the service staff. In 2008 a new law ensures the service charge goes to the staff, along with their wage. 


You can leave additional money as a tip if you thought they offered exemplary service.




When dining in Germany, the service charge is normally included in the bill. However it is customary to round up your bill to a full number. You won't normally be given a paper bill but would instead be told how much you need to pay. This gives you the opportunity to round up the figure and then pay.


Tipping is accepted in Germany but as waiters and waitresses are paid more, usually tips amount to 5-10% of your final amount. 




In Belgium, service staff are well paid so it's not common to tip in a restaurant. If you want to tip, it's acceptable to round up your bill or leave a 10% addition. 




Normally there isn't a service charge on restaurant bills in Spain, however you will likely see IVA (Value Added Tax) in high price restaurants.


Leaving a tip, no matter how big or small, is considered polite etiquette in Spain. Service staff will appreciate it if you round up the bill or pay 10% tip if you enjoyed your meal.  




Tipping is appreciated in Portugal. Just like Spain, there is normally no service charge on restaurant bills but it's customary to round up or pay at least 10%. If you enjoyed the service and the food, it's customary to pay a bigger tip.


Czech Republic 


In Czech Republic it's common to tip at least 10% in touristy areas compared to more rural areas where you can tip as little as you want. In most restaurants, it's acceptable to give the money for your bill to the waiter and tell them how much you're paying (this will also include your tip).  




In many restaurants in Austria there will be a service charge added to your bill. Just like other places in Europe, it's common in Austria to round up your bill. Only pay a tip if you're satisfied with the service. 


Tip: When you give your money (bill and tip) to your waiter/waitress in Austria and say 'danke', (thank you) this will likely be regarded as 'keep the change'. 




In Finland, it's not customary to tip. Your tip might even be declined in some places, don't be offended. 




In Switzerland there is no expectation for you to leave a tip after eating in a restaurant. Unlike some countries where waiters and waitresses depend on tips, in Switzerland, they are paid decent salaries so there is no pressure to get additional tips. 


This is not to say tips aren't appreciated: tipping between 5-10% is a fair amount. If you're eating in a large group, it's appreciated to give a higher percentage. You can leave a tip on the table after paying the bill or add it to your credit card payment. 




Tipping is not required in any restaurants in Norway. At bars and restaurants, the service charge is automatically added to the bill. However if you enjoyed the service 10-15% tip is considered very generous. 


Interesting fact - the word 'tipping' doesn't have the same meaning in Norway as it does in Great Britain. In Norway it means 'betting', so don't be surprised if a waiter/waitress thinks you want to gamble rather than pay gratuity.




In Denmark, although a service charge is automatically added to the bill, it is customary in some areas to leave a 10% tip. 


The Netherlands


Just like many places in Europe, The Netherlands follow a similar etiquette guide, the service charge is added to the bill and you should only leave a tip if you enjoyed the service. A 10% tip is appreciated. 




When eating out in Greece, you may notice TWO prices for the different meals on the menu. One is the price of the meal, the other is with the added VAT (this is the price you will be paying). The VAT is not instead of a service charge or a tip. 


In Greece it's common to round up the amount you're paying or leave a 10-15% tip if you're happy with the service. 




The service charge is automatically put onto the bill but in Italy it is customary to round up to a full amount.


Tip - In Italy, you should try to keep your receipts for any purchases you have made. Although this is not as common anymore, police may ask to see your receipt to prove you paid for your meal and the owner isn't avoiding tax.  



Although tipping etiquette is similar in many countries in Europe, it's important to know all the facts so you don't end up offending someone.  


Want to learn how to get more tips?



How to improve safety for service staff

No matter the location or type of restaurant you work in, waiters and waitresses have very active jobs. When working in demanding environments, you can be more vulnerable to workplace injuries like slips and falls. Wearing the right work shoes for your occupation can help reduce accidents. 


Do you know which shoes are the best for your job role?

If you're a waiter, chef, barman, carer or you work in any other service role, have a go on our decision tree to find out which work shoes are the best for your job role. It's free and it just takes 30 seconds.




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