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Depending on where you are in the world, tipping can be a confusing cultural custom to navigate, because in each country the values are different. Understanding cultural differences can result in greater appreciation for your new location and a happier stay. So, here’s a guide on navigating the cultural changes after relocating in some of the world’s biggest destinations for expats.


In Japan tipping is not custom. It simply isn’t part of the culture and can even cause offence. If you are delighted with the food or drink at a restaurant in Tokyo, consider buying a sake (a Japanese rice wine) or beer for the chef to show your appreciation. Showing appreciation in Japan is expressed by being thankful or giving a sincere compliment.


When it comes to tipping in the United States it’s a definite ‘yes’. Waiters and waitresses depend on tips since they are paid generally low wages. Waiters are usually extremely welcoming and people generally tip as a thanks for good customer service.


Tipping is custom in India but it’s usually less about a ‘thank you’ for a completed service (like in the US) and more of an investment in an on going series of services. In India you tip the bartender or maid as a ‘thanks, please continue this level of service’. This style of tipping is about the value Indian culture places on relationship building.


Tipping in England is a personal choice seen as appreciation for good service, and 10 per cent is normally sufficient. However, If a service charge is included in the final bill, tipping separately is not necessary. Brits are polite so not tipping sends out a powerful message.

Hong Kong

While tips are not expected they are always welcome in Hong Kong. A 10 per cent service charge is usually added to the bill in restaurants, hotels, and bars where drinks are delivered to the table. This may not go to the staff, so consider rounding up the bill to acknowledge good service.


In France tipping isn’t optional as a 15 per cent service charge is usually included in the price of food and drinks.

However, In France the real star of the show is the chef and not the waiters. A good way of showing appreciation is sending a message to the chef to let him or her know that you enjoyed your meal.


In Germany tipping is completely a personal choice. But it’s very common to round up the restaurant bill.

If your lunch bill came to 18 euros, you can round it up to 20 euros. If you pay by credit card you can just tell the waiter how much you would like to pay and they will process the transaction for that amount.

Don’t wait until after the waiter has gone and leave change on the table – it’s seen as far more discreet and classy to tell the waiter how much to add to the bill and a reflection of the German value of doing things right.

For more advice on navigating cultural changes after relocating click here to view our destination guides.

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