Tipping in Germany: Your guide to when, where and how much

Tipping in Germany: Your guide to when, where and how much

Just enjoyed a great Currywurst in Berlin and unsure of how to show your gratitude? Here’s the when’s, why’s and how much’s of tipping in Germany.

Tipping in Germany: The best tippers in Europe 

There’s no two ways about it, Germany loves to give tips. According to a 2023 YouGov poll of the US and five European countries, 72 percent of German respondents said that they typically tipped staff in restaurants.

Be it a generous 5 euros or an insulting 30 cents, in a restaurant, bar or at the hairdresser, customers in Germany turn to tipping to express their joy or dissatisfaction with all kinds of services.

And while the amount of money might reflect customer satisfaction, Germans are inclined to tip on principle. Even in cases of dissatisfaction or a neutral experience, the poll found that many customers left money just because “that’s the way it should be”. 

What happens to my tips in Germany?

The German word for tips reveals much about what kind of role tips play in German work culture. Trinkgeld, literally “drinking money”, is paid by customers not so that employees can pay their rent - the country’s minimum wage laws are supposed to ensure that - but so that staff can have a little extra fun, like your grandma saying “Get yourself something nice” and giving you a tenner.

However, in many companies, Trinkgeld isn’t paid to specific individuals but pooled and divided by staff at the end of the month based on their working hours. And if bosses want to stay on the right side of the law in Germany, it is illegal for them to pay staff less because of tips or withhold tips altogether.

Another tip tip for you: beware of Bedienung! When you get a bill in Germany, you might see that a charge has been added for “Bedienung”. This literally means “service”, but you should be aware that this is not a tip. Bedienung charges are subject to tax, so this income does not go straight to the staff that served you. Make sure to leave a tip even if you are charged Bedienung

Tipping culture in Berlin

There’s a saying, “Die Kunde ist König aber Deutschland ist eine Republik” (the customer is king, but Germany is a republic). Nowhere in the country is this phrase so apt as in Berlin. In the city famous for its figurative Schnauze (snout), customer service (if it even exists) is a far cry from what many newcomers might be used to. There are no pretences; in most cases, staff do their hospitality job without the frills.

But that doesn't mean that customers aren’t expected to show a little extra gratitude for their service. At almost any business - bars, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, tailors, services delivering food or cloakrooms at a venue - staff might expect a little Trinkgeld so they can have a beer on you at Feierabend (clocking off time). 

How and how much to tip in Germany

In Germany, it is safe to stick to the rule of adding 10 percent on top of your bill when you tip. If you’re new to learning German, paying the bill and tipping is also an excellent opportunity to practice some situational and colloquial lingo which might not have made it into your textbook.

Apart from adding 10 percent to the bill, rounding up the amount is an option for the mental-maths-averse among us. For example, if you have gone out for dinner and the bill comes to 27,25, you might hand the employee 30 euros cash and say “Stimmt so”, which is the equivalent of saying “Keep the change” in English.

If you only have a 50 euro note on you, you're not obliged to be an extremely generous tipper. In this case, the phrase, “Mach dreizig, bitte”, will come in handy. This means, “You can do 30” in English, and gives the employee permission to round up your bill to 30 euros and give you 20 euros in change.

Tipping with a credit card in Germany

Germany’s tender tendencies are another surprise to many newcomers. In the federal republic, “Nur Bares is Wahres”; literally “only cash is true” or “cash is King” in English. So when you’re paying a tip, you can expect many of these exchanges to involve cash.

However, on the off chance that you do get the opportunity to pay with a card, you can apply a “Mach dreizig, bitte” and ask the employee to round up your bill on the card machine before you pay.

On some card readers, you might also be presented with an option on the screen to add 5, 10 or 15 percent to your bill, or pay without leaving a tip.

Where should I tip in Germany?

So where in Germany might you be expected to tip staff for their excellent, neutral or even questionable standard of service?

Tipping in German restaurants, cafes and bars

Like in most countries, tipping in a restaurant, cafe or bar in Germany is pretty much a given.

In a restaurant, the aforementioned 10 percent is a good rule to stick to, and if you’re just dropping into a cafe or bar for a quick coffee or Feierabend beer, anything between 50 cents and 3 euros might be considered appropriate, depending on how long you end up staying.

Tipping in German hotels

According to the YouGov poll, 37 percent of German respondents said they regularly tipped staff at a hotel.

If you’re staying somewhere a little fancy, a tip between 2 and 4 euros per night might be expected, but if you’re travelling on shoestring and staying in Airbnbs, small guest houses or youth hostels, staff might not expect a tip. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer to leave one!

Tipping at the tattoo parlour or hairdresser in Germany

At the hairdresser, people in Germany are pretty loyal tippers. According to the YouGov poll, a whopping 56 percent of Germans said they usually tip their hairdresser, compared to just 32 percent of Britons, 25 percent of Spaniards and 21 percent of French people.

Unless you come out looking like you’ve been dragged backwards through a bush then you should leave a little something in gratitude for your sleek new Schnitt. An amount between 5 and 10 percent should do it, and some salons will have a jar with the hairdresser's name on at the till so that you can drop in your tip; the same applies to tattoo artists.

Tipping taxis in Germany

37 percent of German respondents said they tipped their Uber driver. And whether you’re in an Uber or a taxi, this would also be expected in Germany. Just like most places, leaving between 5 and 10 percent is the done thing.

Maybe your taxi driver was particularly efficient at getting you where you needed to be, particularly friendly or helped you carry all your luggage back from the train. Leave them a nice tip!

Tipping in the cloakroom in Germany

If you've just been to an excellent concert or play, or spent the last 12 hours in a Berlin nightclub, it's time to leave a tip for the staff who looked after your jacket while you danced the night away. Leave a tip between 1 and 3 euros and throw in a "Schönen Feierabend!" for good measure.

Tips in Germany

Now you’ve got the tipping tips it's time to head out and become the type of Typ who tips.

Thumb image credit: CCISUL /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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