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Americans, and to a lesser extent British, are uncomfortable NOT leaving a tip, but tipping for meals and taxis is not a custom in France and Spain. Even poorly paid service employees pride themselves on being professionals at their work, and they are paid the going wage to do it. If the VAT results in a few small coins in change, no one is insulted if you leave it. The ex-pats on the Board may be able to amplify a bit. At dinner with a French woman and a Quebecoise, we grilled a friendly waitress in a small French town on the idea of tipping, and she insisted that no one expects a tip.

Minimum wage for a waitress in the U.S. is $2.13 per hour (yes, $4,430 per year)!!!! No tip, no rent.
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I can not remember the last time I left a tip in Spain. Ok, I think I left 1 euro the last time I cut my hair... but in restaurants I never do. The price on the menu is what you pay.

The tipping culture in Spain, as far as I know it, is you are not expected to tip...

Having lived in the USA for 6 years, I know the tipping culture is very different.



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That was most uncomfortable for me, especially when left with a little plate with which to leave money. I believed they were expecting one so I did leave a tip. My cousin slapped my hand several times for it.

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I always knew wait staff were not paid well in the US but $2.13 an hour in the richest country in the world? I often thought the tables (so to speak) should be turned and the meal should have a very low price then a 'tip' left if it warranted it. Tipping in Australia in restaurants is common but they do receive a minimum wage that is many times the US. I must admit I did sometimes leave a tip in SPain but only when I thought it warranted-not because the wait person was getting screwed by the owner.


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Thanks for the informative post.
I'm sure without reading this, I would have been faced with a great deal of uncertainty along the way.
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Spanish people do leave tips although it tends only to be a few centimes unless service is very good indeed. In restaurants you may hear waiters talking about the "Boti" or even shouting "BOTI!" if a good tip is left - indeed in some places they ring a bell if a good tip is recieved. I assume that Boti is an abbreviation for one of the words meaning either booty or buried treasure! But if they have a word for it then it happens :)

But it is also true that my Spanish friends were horrified when I began to leave the equivalent of 12.5% of the bill as a tip...So tip if you wish, it will always be appreciated.


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In some recent conversations with my spanish friends (in Madarid) I asked , yet again, about tipping. I was told that it is not expected. However, having said that, in large cities like Madrid that have millions of visitors from all over the world (where tipping IS the culture), it has become much more common.
One should look at the bill - there is frequently a gratuity added as part of the bill.

Just a quick story about Costa Rica - which Anne will enjoy - A few years ago I took students to Costa Rica and there was a Denny's (quite moderately priced ) restaurant attached to our hotel in San Jose. Since the colon is very low against the $US, breakfasts were even more reasonably priced. On the bottom of the bill, it clearly stated (in Spanish) that the tax and gratuity were included in the bill. The vast majority of the visitors were Americans and Canadians who did not read Spanish. I frequently watched people have a bill of about $7.00 and leave a $5.00 tip! The staff was always very gracious wehn accpeting the gratuity, but I imagined them in the "back rooms" doing cartwheels about getting doubly tipped!! haha I guess working there was a plum job! Everyone seemed quite pleasant and happy!

Buen Camino,


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I don't like how this culture is held hostage by guilt when it comes to tipping. The pay should be worked out with their employers or the state not the patrons. No body else gets tipped unless they are doing something special to deserve it, like manual labor or an extra errand, or giving me some sort of special treatment.

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Different history and culture? If you don't like the service in Spain, you still pay for it. If you don't like it in the USA, it is free!
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Deirdre said:
. On the bottom of the bill, it clearly stated (in Spanish) that the tax and gratuity were included in the bill. ,

No idea about this particular case but when a restaurant claims service included that doesn't always mean it goes to the staff.

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