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11 Countries Where You Don’t Need to Tip

In some places, tipping isn't expected and may even be offensive. Here's everything you need to know about skipping the tip.

20 Dollar bill under a glassThomas Winz/Getty Images

Skip the tip

Do you know how much to tip? Offering a bit of extra money to someone providing a service is a great way to show your appreciation for a job well done … right? Or is tipping an expectation, a sum of money that should be considered part of the bill? Or is it an insult? All of these can be true, depending on what country you’re in.

Tips are greatly appreciated in the U.K., for instance, but in Japan, they’re considered an insult. In New Zealand, they’re only for truly exceptional service, yet in Egypt, they’re mandatory. And as for tipping in the United States, leaving less than 20% of the bill is considered a bad tip, says Cody Candee, a travel etiquette expert and the CEO and founder of luggage storage company Bounce.

It’s important to understand a country’s tipping culture before you pack your bags for an international trip so you’re not stuck wondering how much to tip hotel housekeeping on the first morning of your stay. Still, discussing money can feel weird in a way that talking about, say, food or clothing etiquette doesn’t. And that can lead to serious misunderstandings or offense, Candee says. Good etiquette means that you arrive in your location knowing the rules for tipping around the world—and when not to tip. Here, our experts share when and where to skip the tips.

Countries Where You Dont Need To Tip InfographicRD.com

Tipping in Japan

“In Japan, tipping is seen as a violation and is thought to imply that an employer does not value their employees enough to offer sufficient pay,” says Candee.

Service workers don’t expect tips and may return them to you or refuse to accept them. If you round up the bill, they will give you the exact change in return. The one exception may be some businesses that run on tourism. If you feel you received exceptional service, you can put some cash in a nice envelope and offer it as a “gift” at the end of your stay.

Tipping at restaurants

Etiquette rules for tipping at restaurants are pretty easy to remember: don’t. That said, if you’re dining at a “Western” restaurant, a Western-style tip may be expected.

Tipping tour guides

Tours are the one exception to Japan’s no-tipping policy, and most guides will accept a small gratuity if you offer it to them.

Dubai restaurant KARIM SAHIB/Getty Images

Tipping in Dubai

This small country is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Middle East, but it has a different tipping culture than the rest of the region. Federal law in Dubai mandates that a 10% tip be automatically added to every service bill. So while you’re technically tipping, you aren’t expected to leave extra money.

Tipping at restaurants

If you receive excellent service, it’s fine to leave an extra 10 to 20% on top of the built-in tip. Be sure to give cash to your server with your right hand. It’s rude to exchange money with the left hand in this part of the world.

Tipping taxi drivers

When it comes to taxi rides in Dubai, drivers don’t ask for tips but appreciate it if you round the fare up.

Switzerland Takes Steps Towards Normalcy During PandemicRobert Hradil/Getty Images

Tipping in Switzerland

Federal laws in Switzerland mandate that all service charges be included in published prices, so you don’t need to tip extra at nail salons, spas or anywhere else for that matter.

Tipping at hotels and restaurants

Hotel and restaurant staff, such as housekeeping and bellhops, won’t expect a tip, but they won’t be offended if you offer a little extra money at the end of your stay or meal.

Daily Life In BeijingFred Lee/Getty Images

Tipping in China

Tipping used to be considered rude in China—it was a point of pride to care for guests without expecting extra compensation—but that view is changing as more and more foreign tourists visit. Today, tipping is not generally expected, but service workers likely won’t turn down a gratuity if you offer it.

Tipping at restaurants

Restaurants in tourist areas may add a service charge to the bill automatically. That is considered the tip.

Tipping tour guides

Since tour groups are often commercial operations that work mainly with foreigners, this is the one big exception to the “no tips” policy. Avoiding a gratuity here would be an etiquette mistake. Ask about tips when booking, but expect to pay a small percentage at the end of the tour.

A one-star Michelin dish for less than 1EUR in Hong KongLucas Schifres/Getty Images

Tipping in Hong Kong

Hong Kong used to have more Western-style etiquette rules, including those related to tipping, but as the culture is aligning with China, it’s following more Chinese norms. This can be confusing for travelers who are used to the outdated etiquette rules. Know that today, in most service sectors, tipping is generally considered unnecessary.

Tipping at hotels and restaurants

Some hotels and restaurants, particularly luxury places and those in tourist areas, may add a service fee to the bill. It’s important to know, however, that this fee often isn’t used to tip waiters, housekeepers or bellhops. So if you want to make sure outstanding employees get a little extra, hand it to them directly in cash.

Restaurant at Le Meridien Tahiti Resort.Holger Leue/Getty Images

Tipping in French Polynesia

Tipping isn’t part of the culture in French Polynesia, so it isn’t expected at hotels, bars or restaurants, and you don’t have to tip for haircuts or other services. That said, in some high-tourist areas, like Tahiti, you may see a service charge added to your bill in lieu of a tip.

waiter serving customers in south korea restaurantED JONES/Getty Images

Tipping in South Korea

South Korean service workers don’t expect tips, and tipping isn’t considered culturally appropriate. Large tips may even be seen as tacky or mildly offensive. But some workers, like taxi drivers and waiters, will keep a small tip if you round up the bill and tell them to keep the change.

Tipping at hotels

Luxury hotels or those in popular tourist towns may add a premium service fee to your bill that is then distributed to housekeeping and porters. There’s no need to add an extra tip.

GREENLAND-ENVIRONMENT-CLIMATEODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

Tipping in Denmark

Add Denmark to the short list of countries that include tips automatically on service bills. If you feel bad about not leaving a gratuity, know that service workers aren’t dependent on tips like, say, servers in the United States are. They’re all paid a living wage and receive benefits, including maternity and paternity leave, childcare, disability coverage and paid vacation—one reason Denmark is regularly ranked one of the world’s happiest countries.

Tipping at hotels and restaurants

Hotel and restaurant staff won’t expect a tip, but if someone goes the extra mile to help you, it’s kind to offer a small tip, in cash, at the end of your stay or meal.

Restrictions Ease As New Zealand Moves To First Phase Of COVID-19 Alert Level 2Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Tipping in New Zealand

Tipping culture in New Zealand is pretty relaxed. Workers generally don’t expect tips but won’t be confused or offended if you offer one, and many service workers will be grateful for the extra cash.

Tipping at restaurants

You don’t have to leave a tip at restaurants, but if the service was excellent, a 10% tip is appreciated. It really is a merit-based system, though, so don’t feel compelled to tip unless the service was unusually good.

Tipping tour guides

Guides for day tours don’t expect tips but do appreciate a small tip if you really enjoyed your tour. The exception is for special guided adventures, like scuba diving or backcountry trips. For those, plan to tip your guide at the end of the tour—$20 or 20% of the bill, whichever is more, is customary.

vietnam restaurantMANAN VATSYAYANA/Getty Images

Tipping in Vietnam

Vietnamese locals don’t tip and may be surprised if you try to tip them—tipping simply isn’t part of their culture. But service workers won’t be offended by a tip; in fact, they will usually appreciate it greatly. Many Vietnamese people make poverty-level wages, so a little extra money can make a big difference in their lives.

Tipping at restaurants

At nice restaurants, add 10% to the bill. At more casual restaurants, simply round the bill up and tell the server to keep the change. It’s up to you if you donate extra money on top of the cost for street vendors.

Tipping tour guides

Many tour guides make a substantial part of their wages through tips, so while a tip isn’t expected, it is kind to offer 10 to 15% at the end of the tour. Offer a similar amount to the tour bus driver.

singapore restaurantROSLAN RAHMAN/Getty Images

Tipping in Singapore

Singapore has a double standard when it comes to tipping: Most locals don’t tip, but tourists and foreigners are expected to. This can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration, especially when considering that many services are priced higher for tourists to begin with. The bottom line is that tipping isn’t mandatory, but it may be expected, depending on whether you’re staying in areas with a lot of tourists. Use your best judgment and tip for exceptional service.

Tipping at restaurants

Unless you are at a luxury restaurant, tips likely aren’t expected. Many restaurants add a 15% service fee to the bill, so check that before leaving a tip. If you want to leave a little more, however, a 10% tip is appreciated. While you’re considering the etiquette for tipping around the world, check out these rude restaurant mistakes you need to quit ASAP.

Additional reporting by Jeff Bogle.

Sources:

  • Cody Candee, travel etiquette expert and CEO and founder of Bounce
  • Lori Whatley, PhD, human behavior expert and clinical psychologist
  • Bonnie Tsai, manners expert and founder and director of Beyond Etiquette
  • Maryanne Parker, international etiquette expert and founder of Manor of Manners International

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX and NBC.