If you’re traveling to Germany for the first time, you’ll no doubt feel excited about visiting somewhere new in the world.
Part of your trip will no doubt include sightseeing, dining out, and even experiencing the nightlife.
The thing is, one of the questions that will undoubtedly pop up in your mind as you travel is what to do about tipping in Germany!
As you can imagine, tipping customs vary in different parts of the world.
If you’re not sure when to tip or even in which situations you should offer small cash gestures to those that serve you, this guide is for you.
Here is what you need to know about tipping in Germany.
Do you tip in Germany?
Tipping in Germany is not obligatory.
Like with other countries in Europe, you are free to tip people if you feel they provided an outstanding service.
By law, workers in Germany must get paid at least the minimum wage, which is currently just over €9 per hour.
Unlike in the United States, salaried staff in Germany don’t require tips to form part of their wages.
But, tipping in Germany is a welcome bonus for employees, particularly if they do only get paid the legal minimum wage.
Tipping customs to keep in mind
Before tipping in Germany, check your bills don’t include any gratuity tips!
For the most part, your bill won’t include any compulsory tips.
The only exemption to that rule is when you dine at a restaurant, where a “bedienung” (service charge) gets automatically added to your bill.
There are some other tipping customs that you should remember on your travels in Germany:
- It’s customary to leave an extra tip on top of the bedienung in restaurants. But only do so if you’ve received exemplary service;
- When traveling in a group, each person should pay individually. It’s unusual to ask a host to split your bill;
- Always pay your tips in cash. You can always pay a bill by debit or credit card and give a cash tip to your server.
Useful phrases to know
The following German phrases are useful for travelers to know:
- Die rechnung, bitte (the bill, please);
- Wieviel kostet das? (how much is this?);
- Danke (thank you);
- Auf wiedersehen! (goodbye!).
Tipping restaurants in Germany
When tipping in Germany, keep in mind that restaurants automatically add a “bedienung” (service) charge to your bill. You don’t usually know what that charge is as it’s not listed separately on the bill: it forms part of your meal price.
If you’re delighted with the service received while dining in a restaurant, it’s commonplace for the billpayer or each diner to leave the waiter or waitress around 5-10% of the bill as a cash tip.
Be sure to give your server a tip in person rather than leaving it on the table.
In Germany, your server will usually stand by your table while you organize payment for your bill.
You can, of course, pay for your bill using a debit or credit card if the restaurant accepts card payments.
Just make sure you hand the person serving you their tip in cash (if you’re leaving them a tip).
Another point to note is that it’s common for diners to pay for their meals separately instead of asking employees to split the bill.
Of course, that rule doesn’t apply if you or someone in your group is paying for everyone’s food.
When having a drink at a cafe, there is no requirement to leave a tip. If you have a snack with your drink, round your bill up to the nearest €5.
Tipping tour guides in Germany
It’s customary to tip tour guides when you’re being shown around in Germany. Around 10% per person is the norm.
There’s no denying that having guided tours of famous landmarks and even inside of museums is a brilliant way to learn more about Germany’s fascinating history and culture.
But is it a good idea to tip your tour guides?
In a word, yes.
It makes sense to leave up to 10% as a tip to your tour guide. Doing so shows that you are delighted with the experience you’ve received. Remember, though, that most tour guides get paid a fixed wage.
If you’ve gone on a free tour in Germany, it’s not mandatory to leave a tip.
Keep in mind that tips are the only source of income for some people offering free tours. To that end, a €5 or €10 tip per person in your party for free guided tours wouldn’t go amiss.
Tipping in hotels or guest houses in Germany
In the hospitality industry, tipping isn’t as common as in other parts of Europe.
There are no mandatory tipping requirements for hotels and guest houses, nor are there any service charges.
With that in mind, when thinking about tipping in Germany, should you offer tips for excellent service received in hotels and guest houses?
Here’s how much you can reward hotel and guest house staff for a sterling service:
- €1 per bag for hotel porters that carry your luggage to your room;
- €5 to €10 for an accommodating concierge;
- €2 to €3 per day for maids and housekeepers that service your room;
- €2 to €3 to the server that brings up your room service.
All hotel and guest house staff get paid a fixed wage. They don’t have to rely on tips to make up part of their earnings.
Tipping taxis, coaches & cabs in Germany
Tips aren’t mandatory when using taxis, coaches, and cabs.
Many people round up their taxi or cab fares to the nearest €1 or €5 for a long-distance journey. If you’ve received excellent service, such as the driver speaking English or helping load your luggage, you can leave a tip up to 10% of the fare.
For airport shuttle coach drivers, you could offer €2 to €5 per person in your group if they’ve loaded your luggage with care and were friendly to you.
Tipping in bars and pubs in Germany
It’s customary to round your drinks bills to the nearest Euro.
There’s no requirement to tip bartenders in bars and pubs, especially when you’re sitting at the bar.
If you’re seated at a table and have a bar tab, you should add an extra 5% of the bill as a tip to your waiter or waitress.
Waiting staff in Germany earn at least the country’s minimum wage.
Tipping barbers and in hair salons in Germany
When tipping in Germany, you should tip barbers and hair salons for excellent service.
The amount you tip doesn’t need to be considerable.
A rule of thumb is to round-up the bill to the nearest €5 for excellent service or 10% of the bill if you’ve received stellar service for your new hair-do.