What Countries Do You Not Tip In? Exploring Gratuity Customs Around the World

By John Goldsmith •  Updated: 10/31/23 •  10 min read

Tipping customs around the world can be a perplexing matter for travelers. What might be a standard practice in one country could be considered rude or unnecessary in another.

To ensure you don’t find yourself in an awkward situation, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the tipping norms of the country you’re visiting.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various countries where tipping is not common and provide insights into tipping etiquette in different regions.

what countries do you not tip in?

Tipping is not customary in many countries around the world.

Here is a list of some countries where tipping is not expected:

In some of these countries, tipping may even be considered rude. For example, in Japan, tipping is seen as an insult to the service worker’s skills and pride.

It is important to do your research before traveling to a new country so that you know the tipping customs. You can ask your travel agent, hotel concierge, or other locals for advice.

Here are some tips for avoiding tipping faux pas:

Countries Where Tipping is Not Common

In some countries, tipping is simply not part of the cultural norm. This is often because service workers are paid fair wages or because there’s a belief that good service should be expected without additional compensation.

For example, Japan is known for its exceptional service, and tipping there is considered unnecessary. In fact, leaving a tip in Japan can sometimes be seen as disrespectful.

The same goes for South Korea, where tipping is not customary, and instead, excellent service is the standard expectation.

In Iceland, another country where tipping isn’t common, service industry workers receive fair wages, and there’s a cultural emphasis on providing top-notch service without the need for additional gratuity.

Understanding these no-tip cultures is essential to avoid unintentional faux pas when traveling.

Tipping Etiquette in the United States

When traveling to the United States, it’s important to be aware of the customary tipping practices.

In the U.S., tipping is a significant part of the service industry, and it’s expected in various situations, such as restaurants, bars, taxis, and hotels.

For example, when dining in a restaurant, it’s customary to leave a tip ranging from 15% to 20% of the total bill, depending on the level of service provided.

In bars, it’s common to tip bartenders a dollar or two per drink, especially if they’re making complex cocktails. When taking a taxi, rounding up the fare or adding a few dollars as a tip is appreciated.

Similarly, hotel staff, such as bellhops and housekeepers, typically receive tips for their services.

European Tipping Norms

Europe is a diverse continent, and tipping customs vary widely from country to country.

In some European nations like France, tipping is included in the service charge, which means that additional tipping is not expected.

However, it’s still common to leave some small change or round up the bill as a gesture of appreciation.

In contrast, countries like Italy have different customs.

While tipping is not as common as in the United States, it’s still appreciated, especially for exceptional service.

Travelers should be prepared to tip waitstaff, but the amounts are usually smaller compared to the U.S.

Understanding these variations can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that you show your appreciation appropriately.

Asian Tipping Traditions

Asia is a continent known for its diverse cultures, and this diversity extends to tipping customs as well.

In many Asian countries, tipping is not a common practice. Instead, showing gratitude through respectful gestures, such as bowing or saying thank you, is more appreciated.

For instance, in Japan, tipping can be seen as a breach of etiquette, and it’s best to express your gratitude verbally.

In Thailand, while tipping is becoming more common in tourist-heavy areas, it’s not the norm in local restaurants or street food stalls. Being aware of these nuances can help travelers navigate cultural differences respectfully.

South American Tipping Customs

South American countries also have their own tipping norms. In countries like Brazil and Argentina, tipping is customary in restaurants, and it’s expected to leave a tip of around 10% to 15% of the bill.

In some cases, a service charge may already be included in the bill, so it’s a good idea to check before adding an extra tip.

However, in countries with fluctuating economies, such as Venezuela, tipping may not be as common due to economic challenges.

In these situations, travelers should be flexible and respectful of the local economic conditions.

African Tipping Practices

Africa is a diverse continent with a wide range of tipping customs. In some countries, tipping is expected and appreciated, especially in the service industry.

For example, in South Africa, it’s customary to leave a tip at restaurants and for services like taxi rides.

However, in other African nations, tipping may not be as common. It’s essential to research and respect the local customs wherever you go.

Showing gratitude and appreciation, even if it doesn’t involve tipping, is always a positive gesture.

Oceania’s Tipping Norms

In Oceania, which includes Australia and New Zealand, tipping is not as common as it is in the United States or Europe.

In fact, in Australia, there is no strong tipping culture, and service staff are typically paid fair wages. While it’s not mandatory to leave a tip, rounding up the bill or leaving a small amount for exceptional service is appreciated.

In New Zealand, tipping is also not expected, but it’s common to round up the bill or leave small change as a token of appreciation. It’s essential to be aware of these customs, as over-tipping can sometimes be considered unnecessary or even uncomfortable in these countries.

Tipping in the Middle East

The Middle East presents its own set of complexities when it comes to tipping. In some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), service staff in upscale establishments expect tips, and it’s customary to leave around 10% of the bill.

However, haggling and bargaining are more common in markets and street vendors, so tipping may not be as prevalent in those settings.

In contrast, in countries like Saudi Arabia, tipping can be seen as unnecessary, and it’s often discouraged or even refused.

The key to navigating Middle Eastern tipping customs is to be aware of local practices and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Handling No-Tip Cultures

When traveling to countries where tipping is not customary, it’s essential to be culturally sensitive. Instead of tipping, show appreciation through a smile and a polite thank you.

Being respectful of local customs can go a long way in making your trip enjoyable and promoting positive interactions with locals.

For instance, in Japan, a simple bow and an enthusiastic “arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you very much) can convey your gratitude effectively.

In South Korea, a warm smile and a polite “kamsahamnida” (thank you) can go a long way in showing appreciation for excellent service.

Tipping in the Age of Technology

Technology has also influenced tipping practices. Digital platforms and mobile apps now allow travelers to tip with ease, even in countries where cash tipping is not common.

Services like Uber and food delivery apps often have integrated tipping options, making it convenient to leave tips in various currencies.

For travelers, this means adapting to these changes by having digital payment methods ready and being open to using these platforms when traveling.

It’s a convenient way to show appreciation for good service, especially when cash may not be readily available.

Etiquette for Tourists

As a tourist, it’s your responsibility to research and prepare for tipping customs in the country you’re visiting. Being aware of the expectations and respecting local traditions is vital to ensuring a positive travel experience.

Before your trip, take the time to look up tipping norms and recommendations for the specific destination you’ll be visiting.

Travel guidebooks and websites often provide useful information about local customs. Additionally, asking hotel staff or locals for guidance can help you navigate tipping etiquette effectively.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural mishaps related to tipping can occur when travelers are unaware of local customs. It’s important to remember that tipping practices are deeply rooted in cultural and historical contexts.

For example, in some cultures, leaving money on the table is considered disrespectful because it implies that the service staff are not paid adequately.

To avoid such mishaps, always strive to understand and respect local customs.

If you’re unsure about whether to tip in a particular situation, observe the behavior of locals or ask for advice to ensure you don’t unintentionally offend anyone.

Economic Considerations

Tipping also has economic implications, especially for service workers in countries where tips form a significant part of their income.

When you leave a tip, you are not only showing appreciation for good service but also supporting the livelihoods of those in the service industry.

For example, in the United States, many servers rely on tips to make a living, as their base wages can be quite low.

By tipping generously, you can directly impact the lives of service workers and contribute to their financial well-being.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, understanding tipping customs around the world is crucial for travelers. By researching and respecting local traditions, you can navigate these practices with ease and ensure a positive experience.

Remember that being culturally sensitive and adaptable is key to showing respect to the people you encounter during your travels.

In a world where customs and expectations can vary widely, being a thoughtful and respectful traveler is the best way to ensure positive interactions and memorable experiences.

FAQs about Tipping

  1. Why is tipping important in some countries but not in others?
    • Tipping norms are influenced by cultural, economic, and historical factors. In some countries, service workers are paid fair wages, while in others, tips are a significant part of their income.
  2. What should I do if I’m unsure about tipping in a specific country?
    • Research is essential. Look up tipping customs and expectations before your trip, and when in doubt, ask locals or hotel staff for guidance.
  3. Are there any countries where tipping is considered offensive?
    • Yes, in some countries like Japan, tipping can be seen as impolite or unnecessary. It’s crucial to be aware of these customs to avoid inadvertently causing offense.
  4. How can technology help with tipping when traveling?
    • Mobile apps and digital platforms make it convenient to leave tips in various currencies. They also provide guidance on customary tip percentages in different regions.
  5. Is it ever acceptable to not tip, even in countries where tipping is common?
    • While tipping is generally expected in service industries, it should be based on the quality of service received. If the service is exceptionally poor, it may be appropriate to forego or reduce the tip, but communicate your concerns politely.

John Goldsmith