Tipping in Germany

tipping in Germany

When settling in a new place it’s always important to know the customs and social norms part of that particular society. This way you learn to act properly in public places and avoid being perceived as rude or impolite. One of these social traits is tipping which although may seem a minor issue, it really counts for a large part of your impression.

Tipping customs vary from country to country and you can’t really know them unless you have lived by yourself in that place. The German society is unique in its own way and so are their tipping habits.

There are a few myths and stereotypes related to the German people. Many say that a common behavior in Germany can be offensive or rude somewhere else. That’s surely a bit exaggerated.

If you’re going to reside in Germany or you will just pass over, it is important to know things about tipping in restaurants, taxis, hotels, shopping centers and so on, to avoid awkward situations.

Is Tipping In Germany Acceptable?

The answer is yes. Many people have a tendency to think of the German people as disciplined and cold-blooded and think of this as a possible reason that tipping may seem offensive to them.

Although the fact that Germans are characterized as being serious and disciplined is not far from the truth, the other undeniable fact is that tipping is totally acceptable, moreover, it is highly welcomed, especially in particular situations as we’ll explain throughout this article.

So if you’re generous and would like to show your appreciation for the service you have received never hesitate to tip, but never feel unconditionally tempted because at the end you’re not obligated to.

How Much Should I Tip In Germany?

Tipping in Germany is acceptable, but the way you do it also plays a major role.

This doesn’t mean that the host will refuse to take your money just because you didn’t do it as expected, but you will leave bad impressions which is surely something we don’t want to do.

Be aware that many tipping habits which otherwise in your country of origin are considered normal, in Germany can seem totally impolite. Leaving money on the table of a restaurant after you have been given a check is an example of this. This holds true even if you leave a tip on that occasion.

So, how do you tip on a situation like this?

After you finish your meal and you would like to pay for it, make sure to signal a waiter otherwise he won’t note you or even if he does, won’t come to ask if you’re done.

Then he will appear to you and will show the total of your check. If let’s say your check is €17.70, you can give the waiter €20 and you can tell you’re paying €19 and he will give you €1 back, meaning you left him a tip of €1.30.

There’s no such thing as a standard rate of tipping in Germany as many suggest actually. There are a lot of variations in terms of tipping across the country. Overall it depends on the service you’re receiving. If you stop by a local bar to have a coffee it is OK if you don’t tip. In contrast, if you’re eating at a big restaurant with a couple of your friends, tipping is welcomed. It is also common to round up your check. For example, if your taxi bill is €4.60 you can give round it up at €5.

Speaking in percentage terms, we recommend you to tip between 5-10% of your bill. If you tip over this percentage you’re considered as a very generous customer.

In the end, it’s up to you how much you’re willing to give.

Who Should I Tip In Germany?

Another thing you must know about tipping in Germany is who to tip. You should not feel tempted to leave a few extra coins every time you seek a service.

If you stop by a local bar and order a coffee it is completely tolerable if you don’t tip a staff member, unless you want to. On the other hand, if you’re having lunch with a couple of friends or business partners in a bigger restaurant, tipping waiters is common and appreciated.

You don’t need to tip the taxi driver, however, you can round up your ticket. If, for example, the cost of your trip is €2.60 you can give him €3 and tell him to keep the change.

By contrast, there are particular places where there’s no need to show your generosity because the other party is not really offering something more than its job requires. Tipping in supermarkets, for example, is totally unheard of especially because you’ll be carrying out your bags all by yourself. In addition to being disallowed, tipping in such places can be viewed as rude or impolite.  So, when shopping in Germany always keep in mind that you don’t need to give away that little extra cash.

Splitting The Bill

Splitting a bill is okay in Germany. If you’re at a bar with a couple of your friends and you only want to pay for what you have consumed you can tell the waiter what you’re willing to pay and it won’t pose a problem for him to split the total check.

Among German residents, splitting the bill among young people is common, but not so much with the elders who often pay for everything on the table. That said, you won’t be thought of as impolite if you decide to pay only your part.

How Should I Pay The Bill?

By far cash is the most popular way of paying, but it largely depends on the type of service you want to pay for. At restaurants, for example, you can pay by cash or with a debit card.

Note that although there are places where paying with a debit card is acceptable, the majority of them don’t actually apply it. So we recommend you to always ask in advance if that particular place, be it a restaurant, a hotel or shopping center, what forms of payment they accept. Don’t worry, it is not perceived as anything impolite.