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Tipping in restaurants in Germany

What is the current and true expectation? What is normal/expected in the bigger cities? I read some stories on another travel forum where it seemed that some wait staff tried to make foreigners believe that the expectation is the same as in the US (i.e. ,more than the typical German would tip. Has it become the norm to tip 20% or is it rounding up (like 10%) as I recall from the 90s? Thanks!

Posted by
8962 posts

It is normal to tip about 5-10%. Big cities expect 10%. If service was shoddy, you needn't tip anything.
Don't leave the tip on the table. If your bill was 30€, you could give the server 40€, and say 33€, and they will give you the 7€ back as change.
If you see a service charge on your receipt, this is not a tip and not money that your server would get.
Rounding up is fine, but you shouldn't be stingy. If your bill was 39€, you wouldn't just round up to 40€ and think it was ok.

Posted by
5836 posts

During a 2010 German bike tour with German friends we were told that Germans did not have a minimum wage and that wait staff were not well paid. Since 2010, Germany has adopted a minimum wage law but apparently wait staff is still not well compensated. So tips are appreciated.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_Germany

...the minimum wage was at 8.84€ per hour in December 2018 and is
expected to rise to 9.19€ in 2019 and to 9.35€ per hour in 2020.

I am wondering if the following is substantially accurate:
https://www.payscale.com/research/DE/Job=Waiter%2FWaitress/Hourly_Rate

Germany Job Waiter/Waitress

Average Waiter/Waitress Hourly Pay €8.18

BONUS €3,000

PROFIT SHARING €1,450

Posted by
19118 posts

I don't know what wait staff in Germany are paid, but I can tell you that the American "myth" that you have to tip to get good service is a lie. Service at restaurants in Germany is far superior to what we get in the US.

I was once told by my hostess in a Privatezimmer in the Black Forest that you should only round up the bill to the nearest euro. Basically, it is just petty to keep the small change. But then, she was Swäbisch, and they are known for being, eh, tight.

I can't quite bring myself to do that. I won't, for instance, give 9,00€ for a 8,90€ bill. For small amounts, say under 10€, I add 50 cent before rounding up. For over 10€, I add 1,50€, or more according to the total amount. This usually brings the amount to about 10%.

Once, in Rothenburg odT, I had a bill of around 22€ (±). I didn't have 5 euro note, so I gave the waiter (who knew I was American - insisted on speaking English although I spoke to him in German) 30€ and said "fünf und zwanzig euro". He left, never to be seen again. I guess he thought an American would tip 30%. I hunted him down and said again "fünf und zwanzig euro", and got my 5 euro change.

Btw, checkout staff at, say, Walmart, are not well compensated. Do you tip them? Or the server at Wendys? What about the clerk at your grocery store?

Posted by
8962 posts

Lee, your information from a small town is about a decade old and not very relevant. Things change in Germany and big cities are not like a little village in the Black Forest.

I have worked in the restaurant industry in Germany and have many friends who work as servers, bartenders and cooks. Most wait staff also tip out to the kitchen and they also have to declare their tips.

Posted by
14580 posts

If the bill turned out to be exactly 30 Euro in a German restaurant, I would tell the waiter/waitress 32 Euro and pay it in cash or in those instances with a credit card. I've done this in Hamburg, Berlin, Potsdam, etc. For small amounts, ie under 10 Euro, I round off. ..depends.

Posted by
2352 posts

No norm existing. In Germany waiters are paid, so make the tip depending on our happiness with the service. If I am really unhappy with the service (forgotten order for example) I will spend no extra money. If I am served extraordinary I spend even 10-30 EUR depending on type of restaurant level.

Posted by
3049 posts

Service at restaurants in Germany is far superior to what we get in the US.

I'm dying at this. It's really not true, unless what you value is being left alone, I suppose. I am used to service here and don't mind it, but you do have to be proactive in flagging down servers if you want something and the "customer is always right" attitude doesn't really exist.

Anyway, aim for 10% around the nearest amount that makes sense, if it's a little under it's OK, too. If you felt the service was amazing you can go up a little bit too, but not by much, nothing really approaching 15%. If the service sucked, leaving just a euro or two is fine in a way it isn't in the US.

Like Jo said, the easiest way is just to calculate your tip into the total amount given.

If there's no table service you don't need to tip. If you're just getting drinks, you tip far less, just rounding up a euro or two, even if you're getting table service.

This is what I go by and I'm considered a pretty generous tipper by my German friends so you could probably get away with less but I see no reason to.

Posted by
14580 posts

If I am "unhappy with the service." perfunctory, tardy, etc, I pay only the bill...just flat, no rounding off, nothing extra. You are not under any obligation in Germany to leave anything extra.

Luckily, such unsatisfactory service is hardly the case, still it has happened. Then the guy gets nothing.