Tipping Etiquette of the Americas – Part 1 – A quick guide to tipping etiquette in North America

Tipping culture is a worldwide matter – anywhere you go the etiquette for tipping will vary from place to place. It is often required by both locals and tourists/visitors alike to tip an appropriate amount to those working in the service industries. If you are travelling to North America, here is a quick guide on how to tip accordingly:

USA & Canada

Visitors should be aware that many workers in service industries receive the minimum wage and rely on tips to make a decent income. The expected amount varies, but is more in touristy area, larger cities, and better-class hotels, restaurants, or hair salons. In both USA and Canada, allow a $1 a bag for bellhops and airport porters (more if you’re toting a trunk full of college books or an unwieldly ski bag).


A standard tip in a restaurant would be 15 percent – less if your sit at a diner’s counter – and up to 20 percent in a good restaurant for excellent service.

Taxis: add 15 percent to a taxi fare.

Hairdressers: add 10 to 15 percent.

In Canada, wages are not high. So for waiters and waitresses, hairdressers, barbers, and teaxi drivers, tips should be around 15% of the (pretax) bill – or less or more depending on the quality of the service.


Mexican Barista


Mexico has a tipping culture, and many people rely on a propina (tip) to supplement a meagre income. Everybody who helps you out in some way will appreciate a few pesos in return, from bellboys and maids, to waiters, toilet attendants, and the boys who help pack your groceries at the supermarket.

Cafes and Restaurants: sometimes a tip is added to the bill although it is up to the customer to generally leave a 10-15 percent extra.

Hotel staff: calculate tips of around US $1 and upwards.

Tour guides: Normally on very low salaries so add the equivalent of a few dollars which will be much appreciated.

Bars: If a group of mariachi musicians start serenading you at a bar, and you appreciate the song, you can give them an equivalent of a few dollars but don’t feel obliged to do so. They will soon move onto the next table.

No need to tip: taxi drivers, food stalls and markets.

Cuba libre sign on wall with taxi, Havana, Cuba


In Cuba there is no formal requirement to tip. Restaurant tips are usually 10% in the same currency in which you have paid the bill. In Paladares a gratuity is sometimes included in the bull, so check carefully and only pay it if you feel the service was adequate.

Elsewhere Cuba lives from tips, and everyone will expect a tip.

Restaurants: at your discretion

Tour guides: 2 CUC per person

Taxi drivers: 10% of meter fare – but do not tip if you have negotiated a fare without a meter or are not happy with the ride.

Costa Rica

Restaurants: a 10% service charge, plus a 13 percent tax, is automatically added to the check. You are welcome to leave an additional tip only if you feel the food and service were exceptional – then you can leave something on the table.

Taxi drivers: not normally tipped unless you hire one for the whole day. Should you do so, add a 10% tip.

Tips also should be given to hotel staff, porters, hairdressers, and car attendants.

Dominican Republic

In restaurants, it is optional to leave a tip. Dominicans as a rule do not leave much beyond the 26 percent tax and service charge added to most restaurant bills. It is recommended to leave 10% on top of the total, however if paying by card, leave the tip in cash. Beyond restaurants tipping is not expected in most places.

Porters and bellhops will expect 2 or 3 dollars. Tour guides should also be tipped.

Taxi drivers should only be rewarded if they perform some extra task.


If you enjoyed reading our quick guide to tipping, do check out the full Culture Smart range on our destinations page.





Cuba Restaurant Image by J Laz from Pixabay

Blog Banner Image Source – Lucky Images

Mexican Barista Image source – Antonio Diaz

Cuba Car Image source – Woodstock

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