Tips on German Gratuities

by Mark F. Weber on March 23, 2011

What are the tipping expectations at a German restaurant?  Where do you leave a gratuity?  Tipping etiquette differs around the world.  In Germany, you receive some great service for a leaner tipping percentage.

German waiters and waitresses deliver superb service.  While they appreciate a gratuity, their expectations are lower than America.  German restaurant employees receive higher salaries, and are less dependent on tipping.  Gratuities are Trinkgeld, or drink money.  The range is 5% to 10%.

German tipping etiquette differs from America, and other countries, in the following ways:

  • The simplest tipping method is to round-up.  Example: your bill is 8.5€.  Give your server a 10€ and request 1€ back.   Your gratuity is 5.5%, well in the range for good service;
  • Another common method is for the server to keep the change, or es stimmt so in German;
  • Leaving money on the table, a common way in America, is poor tipping etiquette in Germany.  Deutschland is a direct culture and you provide your tip directly to the server;
  • When you wish the gratuity to be on your credit card, inform the server of the tip amount in advance of the card process.  Germans, and many European countries, do not provide a post-card process tipping space before the total;
  • Gratuities are not expected at fast food, Bäckerei, or for a beer at a tavern;
  • 10% is reserved for the best dinners and service.  It is about half of what an American might leave for a similar occasion.

German tipping etiquette is simple, lean, and direct.  Don’t throw those heavy Euro coins, rattling in your pocket or purse, on to the restaurant table.  Place them directly in the hands of a wonderful German server and enjoy their smile.


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I am an international business professor in Pittsford, NY who managed a business unit for a German company. My passion is family and friends, plus roaming the countryside on my road bicycle.

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