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To Tip or Not to Tip? Navigating Tipping Culture in Germany

Cultural norms around tipping are different everywhere, but a bit of insider info can help you avoid any awkward situations. In this guide, learn all about standard practices for tipping in Germany.

6 min read

Welcome to Germany! Before you start exploring in earnest, there’s a cultural norm to learn about that will save you from a string of awkward encounters on your trip: tipping. This seemingly simple practice can actually be nuanced and a bit controversial, but don’t worry — we’ve made things easier for you.

In this travel guide, we cover the culture of tipping in Germany: when it’s expected, how much to leave, and general tipping customs. Whether you're dining at a local restaurant, taking a taxi, or joining a guided tour, understanding the etiquette of tipping will help you easily navigate your interactions with even the grumpiest of old German bartenders. 

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Tipping culture in Germany

A tip is known as "Trinkgeld" in German, which literally means “drink money.” In German culture, the original concept behind tipping was that the recipient could buy themselves something to drink — and toast the health of the generous tipper. 

Tipping isn’t mandatory in Germany. Instead, it’s seen as a gesture of appreciation for a good experience. A tip is always welcome, but in Germany, it’s usually based directly on the quality of service. If you’re satisfied, leaving a tip is a way to show it. On the other hand, if the service isn’t good, it’s not uncommon to leave a small tip — or no tip at all.

Although cash tips are more common, most restaurants, bars, and cafés now accept tips by card as well. Want more specific guidelines? Keep reading to find out what the tipping rules are in Germany.

And if your travels take you outside of Germany, check out our guide to tipping in Europe for more info about each country's tipping customs.

General tipping rules in Germany

In Germany, it’s customary to leave a tip in restaurants, hotels, taxis, cloakrooms, and at the hairdresser, and the amount depends on the total of the bill and the occasion. Locals will round up their bill to the nearest euro, especially in bars and cafés. For example, if your bill is €17.90, you might round it up to €20.

Even though tips aren’t mandatory in Germany, there are a few occasions when they’re certainly expected. Let's look at a few specific scenarios when locals would recommend leaving a tip.

Tipping in restaurants and cafés in Germany

In restaurants, a reasonable tip is between 5-10% of the bill, and a 15% tip is considered very generous. If you're paying with a card, leave a tip in cash to make sure it goes to the server. That said, more and more establishments have card machines that include the option to add a tip for the staff.

Unlike the practice of leaving a tip on the table, which is common in other countries, the dynamics in Germany are a bit different. When you request the bill, the server will bring it to your table, along with a wallet for cash or a card machine. If you prefer to pay in cash and want to include a tip, you can simply let the server know what you want the final total to be or how much change you’d like to get back, if any.

Some restaurants, cafés, and bars may also have a tip jar on the counter where you can drop a few coins as a gratuity.

Tipping in hotels

If you're traveling on a budget and staying in B&Bs, guesthouses, or hostels, there's no need to tip the staff unless they help you with extra information or assistance. 

For fancier hotels and longer stays, you can tip the hotel porter €2-3 per bag — or more if you have a lot of luggage — and leave €2-4 per night for the cleaning staff if you're happy with the service.

Tipping cab drivers in Germany

Tipping taxi drivers in Germany is considered a generous and courteous thing to do. Feel free to add 5-10%, depending on the level of service. Alternatively, you might choose to round up the cost of your trip to the nearest euro or tell the driver to keep the change.

Although it's not mandatory, we suggest compensating the drivers with some Trinkgeld if they carry your bags, provide an especially comfortable ride, avoid traffic, or help you with your journey in any other way. 

Tipping for other services: hairdressers, cloakrooms, and tour guides

Taxis, hotels, and restaurants aren’t the only places where the staff might expect a gratuity. In Germany, it’s customary to tip hairdressers — if you're happy with your fresh cut and color, tip them between 5-10%. Usually, there’s a jar on the counter where you can leave a cash tip. 

At the theater, opera, or a concert, include a tip for the cloakroom attendant. Depending on how formal the venue is and the number of jackets, coats, and bags that you’re asking them to store, it should be between €0.50-2.

If you’re using a public restroom, don’t be shocked if there’s a dish for coins near the entrance. Tipping is expected in many washroom facilities, even if you’re at a ticketed event or venue. There will also be a sign listing the expected amount, usually around €0.50 or €1. This tip is to thank the staff for keeping the toilets clean.

And finally, when taking a tour with a guide, make sure to give them a cash tip at the end. This could be anything from €1-5 if you’re in a large group, or closer to 5-10% if you booked a private tour.

Should I tip if there's a service charge?

When it goes beyond a euro or two, tipping can be controversial. Unlike most European countries, German restaurants typically don't include a service charge on the bill. That's not a strict rule, so keep an eye out in the menu or the bill for a mention of "Bedienung" — this means that the price includes a service charge. 

However, your bill already has a service charge, you're not necessarily off the hook! That's because the service charge is taxable income and it won't go directly to the staff. If possible, make sure to at least round up the bill and leave some Trinkgeld for your server. 

All in all, tipping isn’t mandatory in Germany in any situation — but if you receive exceptional service or want to show appreciation, leaving a small gratuity is always appreciated.

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Can I tip in Germany with a credit card?

Cash is widely used in Germany, although that’s steadily changing. It's still customary to tip in cash, but some restaurants do accept card payments. Ask the staff first if you want to leave a tip when paying with a card. If you're paying by card and the establishment accepts card tips, you'll get a notification on the card machine to add a tip before entering your PIN.

Is tipping rude in Germany?

No, tipping isn’t considered rude in Germany. Leaving a tip is seen as a way to show appreciation for good service. However, tipping customs in Germany do differ from those in other countries, and the expectations for tipping may be lower compared to places where tipping is more common. As long as you tip within the customary range and show your appreciation respectfully, tipping is considered a polite gesture

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