Whenever we travel, we have high expectations to when it comes to having fun and enjoying our time. When you travel to the Netherlands, you expect to live amazing gastronomic, cultural and artistic experiences, but to make the most out of it, you need to have some previous knowledge about the country you are visiting, right? Well, the same rule applies to tipping.
Normally nobody tips in the Netherlands and tipping is not compulsory. In Amsterdam, a lot of tourists do it and you can tip if you are extremely happy with the service or food, yet it is by no means an obligation. You have to tip on free walking tours, maybe delivery and very few other occasions.
Tipping seems like a very easy topic, yet each country has a very typical way of facing it. Tipping depends on your environment and the activities you are paying for as well. Basically this is the rule: monkey sees, monkey does. What do Dutch people do? That is what we want to do. Keep reading to learn more about the Dutch tipping culture.
Tipping in the Netherlands
Tipping is a culture, no matter where you go. It has several social and cultural connotations and it is not something standardized in all the countries.
When I first moved to the Netherlands I had mixed up information. I would see my Dutch friends not tipping yet my international friends would always leave some tip. As an Argentinian, I would always tip because in my country, like in the US, a big part of the waiter/waitress salary depends on tips.
Here is the thing, Dutch citizens have a very standardized salary system, where there is minimum any employee receives by doing certain hours of work, no matter what type of job it is. It only depends on the age and absolutely everybody is paid that minimum, which is a high one. Therefore, if there is a waiter working at a restaurant, you know for sure that his salary doesn’t depend at all on your tips.
This is the minimum amount you would expect to be paid in the Netherlands. Therefore, people are getting this amount, plus holiday bonus, extras and a raise every year:
Moreover, it is important to consider that the tip has already been included in the price. So not only they have a full salary but besides paying for what you are consuming, you are already paying for the service. This corresponds to a 15% of the total you spend and you can ask if it is included or check if in the bill it says BTW. In any case, 99% of the times this would be indeed included.
This is the main reason why you don’t tip, but there are some other occasions that may make you hesitate, considering them exceptions. Learn more about why you don’t need to tip and what to do on each occasion down below.
There are a few things I consider to be extra important when it comes to tipping in the Netherlands. One of them, and the main one, is that it is not perceived as bad if you tip people.
Unlike some countries like Paraguay, nobody would look bad at you or judge you if you tip them. It is not considered offensive or a sign that you believe the others are inferior, on the contrary, Dutch are quite equal and straight-forward.
In case of doubt, here there are some etiquette tips according to the different circumstances where you may want to give a tip or feel obliged to:
Tipping at a Hotel
Don’t tip at a hotel. That is the rule. If you are staying at a hotel in the Netherlands, you are not expected to tip, no matter if you are at a 3, 4 or 5 stars hotel, it is not common. If you are staying there for a long time and you really enjoyed the way they treated you, you may give them some tip, 5 or 10 euros maximum. If you get some extra service or help, a couple of euros in a way of thanking them is more than fine.
Tipping at a Bar
In a café or bar you would only be expected to leave small change or round-up the bill. Normally nobody tips for just a couple of drinks, they are expensive enough. In any case, if you feel like doing it, you can leave this on the counter or table, or give your tip to the waiter directly. Sometimes you will find a jar where you would be able to leave the tip.
Tipping at a Restaurant
In the Netherlands tipping may expected in restaurants for good or exceptional service at certain restaurants. Once again, expected doesn’t mean that you have to, but that is a good place to do it if you feel like it. In this case, you would be expected to pay around 5-10% of the bill. If the service was average, you can round-up the bill if you feel like or just leave the change. Or don’t leave anything, nobody would look bad at you. Give your tip to the service person directly, you never tip the restaurant, it is a personal service. If the service is bad, don’t tip them, just pay your bill and leave.
Tipping at Spas
This is one of the places where you rather never choose to tip. You don’t need to tip at a spa, unless otherwise specified by them. Feel free to ask what the etiquette is at the spa you’re attending but in general nobody would even consider that happening.
Tipping a Tour Guide
In general, when you book a tour and you pay for it, you don’t need to tip your tour guide. If you receive exceptional service and you feel the need to tip, 2 or 3 euros is more than fine. There are guided tours available for Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Some include multi-city European tours, where you can visit many European capitals and cities.
There are also FREE TOURS, these are based on the tip, so you need to tip. Basically, free tours are of no cost because the salary of the tour guide depends on the tip you leave. YOU ARE EXPECTED TO PAY. The average tip you may leave is a minimum of 5 euros per person and a maximum of 20. Considering that you decide what to pay, that means that the tour guide will make his or her best so that you enjoy it, feel good afterwards and feel like giving a little bit more tip than you would normally do.
Tipping a Taxi Driver
Taxis in the Netherlands tend to be expensive. Tipping a taxi driver in the Netherlands is not common, but you can round-up the bill if you want, or maybe give him 1 or 2 Euros for really good service if the driver helps you with your luggage, gives you tips or indications about the city, waits for you if asked and so on. But never ever you are expected to do so.
When it comes to UBER, you are supposed to always pay by the app on your phone, so no, never ever tip an Uber taxi driver when in the Netherlands. Other car apps work the same way as Uber, paying before-hand and not expecting more.
There is a lot to be said about this. Once again, most Dutch people would have already paid for their food only, there are very few people who would want to pay on the spot when they receive their food. This means that maybe you don’t have change at home. Moreover, the delivery guys would have a fair salary and if you have to pay for the service, the price will already be included in your bill, so that is not something you have to calculate or worry about.
I have friends from other countries, Germany, Austria, the UK… and they always feel the need to tip. I would say, if your food has been super quick to arrive to your place, if it rains a lot or it even snows… well, then you can give a couple of euros tip. Once again, it is not compulsory or expected.
Tipping the Hairdresser
As weird as this sounds to me, my boyfriend, who has lived in the Netherlands for a while, says that he has tipped his hairdresser quite a few times because of how great the service has been and how happy he was afterward. I would say I have never seen anyone in the Netherlands tipping for such type of services.
For beauty services, nails, hairdresser, aesthetician and so on, I have never seen anyone tipping. I would say that you can give them the same as a restaurant, so a 5-10% tip for the good services. Once again, this would never be expected but hopefully they will know how to appreciate your gesture and your way of showing that you are happy with the service they have given you.
Reasons NOT to Tip
You don’t have to tip for services in the Netherlands because of several reasons: because their salaries are high (or at least fair), because you are paying with card, because you are paying with cash, because you
- High Salaries: as I was explaining before, there are many countries like the US where the salary of those people working for you dependS on your generous tip but this is not the case in the Netherlands. They are paid a fair amount, controlled by the Government, and there is no need for you to tip them. If you decide to do so, it is not expected more than a 10% of the amount you have spent on your meal, trip or whatever it is that you are doing.
- Pay by card: Dutch people pay by card, at least 99% of the times. There are very few times when they HAVE TO pay with cash, something nobody seems to know what it is. Even the smallest chewing gum you will pay by card, which makes it almost impossible for them to consider leaving a couple of coins as a tip. Tourist who are travelling from different countries and mostly those who have to do a currency exchange are likely to tip because they pay by cash, yet by paying by car it is hard to know for sure that your money is going to the employee and not to the employer.
- Pay with cash: no, not even then you will have to tip. Of course it is normally that if you are spending, lets say 5.60 euros on a drink, you want to make it 6, that is more than fine, but if you have a 10 euros bill, don’t even consider leaving all that money as a tip! It is not something Dutch people would do or expect you to do. The whole system works in a way that you have to pay for everything included in the service already in the final price.
- Prices are rounded up automatically: when you pay by cash in most places, the total will be automatically rounded up or down because in the Netherlands there are no 1 and 2 cent coins. Therefore, if the total amount is 12,48 euros, they will take 12,50 from you but it is 12,42 in total, they will take 12,40. This happens everywhere, in restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets, taxis and anywhere in the country. In any case most Dutch people don’t want coins, therefore they would already consider that nobody wants the small coins. Don’t worry if they don’t give you back your change!
- Tips are included in the price: it is important to know that the Dutch government requires that all taxes and service charges be included in the public prices that are published in leaflets and information/menu of hotels, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, salons, and sightseeing companies. Any type of service you may have has already all the taxes included. Even taxi fare includes taxes the standard 15% of service charge. Everything has a 15% added. To be absolutely sure in a restaurant that tax and service are included, you can look for the words inclusief BTW en service (which starts for the BTW Dutch abbreviation for the Dutch words that mean value-added tax). You can also ask the hotel or the waiter how you should behave, but most of the times that means you don’t have to tip.
- Tips don’t always go to the employee: if you pay your tip at the counter, or you pay by car or even when you give them cash, some employees in the Netherlands are not allowed to accept tips. I have had some Dutch friends who have told me they were not allowed to take tips. Since they were paid a proper salary, their bosses wouldn’t allow them to keep the tips. Even if it was given directly yo them, they would have to either share it with everybody else or give it to the owner of the place or employer, so don’t expect it to go to the employee.
- Service: another reason NOT to tip is when you have experience bad service. Let’s say that you come from a culture where tipping is mandatory and you want to tip for the services you are getting, yet you are not getting the best service ever. Please, do not tip. If you are extra happy with the service, the food was amazing or your driver helped you get to your place with some extra care, of course, you can tip them.
- Nobody does it: ok, this is not the best argument to apply to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you do, but for tipping it is ok. As I said at the beginning, monkey sees, monkey does. Dutch people don’t tend to tip. In rare occasions, they may feel like doing it, without any obligation whatsoever, and then they do. We, as foreigners, have to do what it is expected in that society so, unless we really want to tip, just don’t. It is not a problem, it is socially and culturally expected.
To Sum Up… tip if…
Tip if you really like the service. You are never expected to tip, no matter where you are. You are only expected to tip if you are taking a free tour. If you are at a restaurant and you really enjoyed it, you have received the best service at the hotel where you were staying or someone has been super nice at your coffee place, couple of euros of tip is more than welcome to show your satisfaction, no need to pay more. Keep in mind that the service and “tip” is already included in the total price you have already paid, which corresponds to the 15% of the total you have spent.