Tipping in Germany — how much?

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Gratuity, ‘tipping’ in Germany

How about ‘tipping’ in Germany?

Tipping in German language is: “Trinkgeld geben” (meaning ‘giving tip’).

The curiosity is that gratuity (the tip) is already included in the bill (ca. 15%) but it is usual (better: a ‘must’) to give a tip anyway. It is common practice and everybody does it.

Who gets tip? people working in the service field: personnel in hotels, restaurants & bars, taxi drivers, etc.

How much?

It is not as high as in the United States where service personnel basically lives on gratuity. In Germany they have their fixed income but nobody gets rich with that alone.
In general you either round up the amount to the next 50 cents or full Euro of if the bill is higher you apply a 5-10% rule on most tips, however, read the further examples which illustrate when it is necessary to adapt the formula:

Let’s say you are sitting in a café and you order a coffee which costs 4.80 Euro. Here, you would round up to 5 Euro. If your coffee is 2.30 you would round up to 2.50. If your coffee is 2 Euro straight you would over-tip if you give 2.50 Euro. Just add 20 cents.

If you have a coffee at Starbucks or Tchibo you do not tip because you get your coffee right at the bar. However, if you get a beer from a bartender you would typically tip him. A Euro per beer is normal.

If you have your beer sitting at the bar or at a table you always run a tab and don’t pay on a beer-by-beer basis (Germans assume that you don’t drink just 1 beer :-).

If you have a restaurant bill of 64.90 Euro you would probably give approx. 5-10% which corresponds to Euro 70 straight.

If you are not satisfied with the service you don’t give tip. Don’t feel sorry with the person, she/he gets paid anyway. Therefore you will find a different attitude among many persons working in the restaurant/bar/coffee bar field. They are sometimes not as friendly as you are used to, especially when coming from the United States where service personnel makes a living basically based upon tip. In Germany it is a nice add-on and certainly most people want to offer a great service for the guest and will be nice and friendly.

And when travelling in Bavaria then be reminded that their attitude is not necessarily unfriendly when they kind of bark at you when asking what you want to drink. It’s a cultural difference and still meant in a friendly way, …mostly.

In restaurants it is not common to leave the tip on the table. Usually the scenario is as following: you let the service person know that you’d like to pay. You say: “Ich möchte bitte zahlen.” (‘I’d like to pay’ OR ‘The check, please’). Then she/he brings the check or calculates the total right at your table. This depends on the type of restaurant you are visiting. If you pay cash and hand over the money you will tell her/him what you want to pay. An example: she says “27.80 Euro”. Then, you would say “30.00”: in German: “Dreissig” and hand over your money. If you would hand over a 50 Euro bill then she would return with 20 Euro. If you hand over exactly 30 Euro you are fine and good to go. With credit cards it works different because the service person must slide the card at the register and will then present the receipt to sign. There you add your tip.

A taxi driver: just round up the amount to the next full Euro.
In hotels: add a Euro per piece of luggage. In better hotels calculate 2 Euro per piece. Leave approx. 10% for the room maid.

If there is a person maintaining public bathrooms (toilets) you will usually find them sitting in the entrance. This became normal in recent years and is seen in a controversial way by Germans. Some don’t tip at all, and some leave 10, 20 or 50 cents.