Top Tips: Tipping Culture | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Top Tips: Tipping Culture

Travel writer Jacky Sy gives his advice on the tipping culture abroad

As an educated customer, most people believe it is polite to tip on top of satisfied service. However, tipping culture varies between regions. Generous customers therefore should not miss out on the following advice.

Tips are not mandatory but expected among several countries. The most well-known is probably the US. Tipping culture was nurtured explicitly after the Great Depression. Earning low income, labourers, especially in the service industry, expected 15-20% tips on top of the service charge. This tradition is still deep-rooted in the US. For a group of customers, usually 10 or above, an 18% tip is fixed in several restaurants.

In some Latin American countries, namely Mexico and Columbia, 10-15% of tips are widely expected. Interestingly, in Columbia you would be asked politely whether you are indeed leaving a tip. If you are unsatisfied by the service, simply leave 5% or even no tips as an indication of your dissatisfaction with the service. However, bear in mind that although in some restaurants a 10% tip is mandatory, it is illegal to force somebody to tip under the Mexican law.

Tipping culture varies between regions

Tipping culture is less intense in most Asian, African, and European countries, namely China, Tunisia, Spain, Romania and Russia. Here, you can appreciate the service simply by leaving a small amount or asking the waiter/waitress to keep the change. In these countries, tipping can be based on the rating of the restaurants.

However, tips can be offensive, or even illegal in some countries. Japan insists good service is obligatory therefore they find it insulting to receive tips from customers. If you want to show your gratitude, a special envelope is needed as packaging. On the other hand, if you receive a tip in Mauritius, not only you and your family would be humiliated but there is also the possibility of going to jail and being publicly shamed by the media.

Tipping culture is different all around the world. Here in the UK, some citizens uphold the belief that it is satisfied under the national minimum wage, thus tips are optional. But for others, the phrase “and one for yourself” is used commonly, so the bartender can either pour themselves a drink or accept the cost of a drink as a tip. Tipping culture, after all, is built upon mutual respect, appreciation and gratitude.


6th November 2018 at 7:00 am

Last Updated

5th November 2018 at 11:38 pm

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