Tips on Tipping Abroad: A Country-by-Country Guide for Business Travelers

Tipping is one of the most common etiquette challenges we face when traveling in foreign countries. While tipping is pretty much mandatory in the U.S., not all countries play by the same rules. In fact, in some destinations, like Japan, a tip is actually considered an offensive display of wealth and pity—leave a 20% tip at dinner in a restaurant and you could actually ruin someone’s day. On the other hand, forget to tip in countries like Mexico, and you’re committing more than just an innocent faux pas—many service people around the world rely on tips to feed their families, pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. To help you avoid tipping nightmares like these, we’ve compiled country-by-country guidelines for some  popular business travel destinations.

Euro notes and coins left on top of the bill at a European restaurant, as payment and a tip.

Please remember, these are general guidelines. Tipping is a way to show gratitude for good service, and at the end of the day, that value is completely at your discretion.

Dining Hotels Taxis
Australia 10% for fine dining experiences only $2 per bag Round up
Brazil 10-15% $1 per bag 10%
Canada 15% $1-$2 per bag 10%
China 3% in major cities; none elsewhere $1-$2 per bag None
Egypt 5-10% + service charge $1 per bag Round up
England 10% if no service charge $1 per bag 15%
France 5-10% $1 per bag Round up
Germany 5-10% $1 per bag Round up
India 10% if no service charge $1 per bag Round up
Japan Tipping is perceived insulting Tipping is perceived insulting Tipping is perceived insulting
Malaysia None None None
Mexico 10-15% $1 per bag 50 cents
Morocco Loose change 50 cents per bag Round up
Russia 10-15% $1 per bag Round up
Singapore None None None
South Africa 10% if no service charge 50 cents total 10%
United Arab Emirates 10-15% if no service charge* None* None*

* Some sources say that U.S. tipping standards are becoming more common in some areas of the UAE due to the large number of American expats in the region.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Observe the locals and follow their lead—tipping rules may have changed since you last visited that destination (or since you last read this article).
  • Ask a trusted local, such as your hotel concierge, for general tipping best practices once you arrive at your destination.
  • Carry local currency—although many places accept U.S. dollars in addition to their own local currencies, don’t tip in dollars if it’s not accepted in that country.
  • Resist the urge to ask if he/she typically accepts tips—besides being awkward, how do you know they’re not just saying “no” out of modesty and good manners?
  • Beware of service charges—you might think that a “service charge” on your bill indicates that you don’t need to leave a tip, but this may or may not be the case depending on where you’re traveling.
  • Don’t panic! If you forget this list and you experience good service abroad, tipping around 10-15% (and buck or two for valets or porters) should leave your service men and women feeling well appreciated… as long as you’re not in Asia!

Want even more tips on tipping abroad? Check out these additional references:

A Tourist’s Global Guide to Tipping (INFOGRAPHIC)
Magellan’s Worldwide Tipping Guide
Tipping Abroad: How Much is Enough?


Safe Travels!