Restaurant tipping in Europe

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

When we received our first overseas assignment, we knew that there would be a lot of differences between our host nation’s culture and our own. Do we take our shoes off in our neighbor’s house? Do we bring them a welcome gift, or do they bring one to us? Of course, we had no clue when it came to tipping. Would we insult our server if we didn’t leave a tip, or worse … if we did? Thankfully, we were able to learn the ropes before we committed a faux pas.

Now that we’re seasoned pros at living overseas, we’ve come to consult the trusty book of Google when it comes to figuring out tipping in Europe. Here are some quick guidelines when it comes to tipping while living and visiting Germany and beyond.


It is customary to either leave a 5 percent tip, or just round up the total bill. For instance, if the total amount is 27.35 euros, round it up to 30. Also, don’t leave the tip on the table like you might in the States. Hand the server the gratuity when you pay the bill.


In Belgium, tipping is not a common practice. A 10 to 15 percent service fee is automatically tacked on to your check. If you’ve had exceptional service, it’s okay to leave a few extra euros. However, it is not expected.


Tipping is not very common in France, as a service charge is generally added to your check. However, it is a kind gesture to tip 1 to 2 euros per every 20 euros on a restaurant or café bill, but again, it’s not mandatory.


In Germany, it’s customary to add between 5 to 10 percent of the total bill if you’ve had good service. Germany is similar to Austria — don’t leave the tip at the table. Instead, hand it to the server or include it when you pay the final bill.


When you receive the check, be sure to look to see if a service charge has been added. If it has, no need to tip extra. However, if there is no service charge, it’s customary to add a 10 to 15 percent tip.


Similar to France, tipping in Italy isn’t required. Often, you will see servizio incluso (Service included) added to the total on your check. This fee means that the gratuity is already included. If the service and the food were fantastic, feel free to show your appreciation by rounding up your bill to the next 10 euros.


A 15 percent service fee is automatically added to your bill. However, most patrons tend to leave the small change. If you’re dining at a more formal establishment or with a large number of guests, an extra gratuity of up to 10 percent is suggested.


At restaurants in the Netherlands, it is commonplace to tip 5 to 10 percent of your total bill. If your check is small, rounding up to the nearest euro is acceptable. Similar to Austria and Germany, don’t leave the tip at the table. Instead, hand it to your server when you pay the bill.


Although tipping isn’t customary in Spain, it has started to infiltrate the country. In larger cities and more tourist-prone areas, it’s common to leave 1 or 2 euros. If dining with a big party, a 5 to 10 percent addition to the bill for excellent service is appreciated. However, gratuities are not expected.


By law in Switzerland, establishments include a 15 percent service charge on your bill. Therefore, no obligation to leave a tip. If the service has been exemplary, feel free to round up your bill to the nearest 5 franc.

United Kingdom

Restaurants within the United Kingdom often also include a service fee of up to 12.5 percent. Be sure to check your total to see if this fee has been added. If it is not on the bill, it’s polite to leave up to a 10 percent tip. Like France and Italy, it isn’t expected, but a kind gesture for great service.

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