Help! I'm an Aussie and I've Got No Clue How to Tip in Canada


There's this strange phenomenon around the world where tipping is not optional. And it freaks the heck out of me! 

Y'see, I come from Australia where we're paid a bloody decent wage (despite what people complain about) and tipping isn't very common. I mean, we'll tip if we've had an amazing customer experience unlike ever before or if we're the last one's drinking wine while the waiters clean the bar around us. Sure, we might even round up the bill every once-in-a-while. But we sure as hell don't add 20% to a bill.

And that's normal for us. 

So when it comes to paying a bill in Canada, I felt incredibly uneasy. 

What's the deal?

It first happens when you meet you waitress (yeah, usually a woman... where all the men at Canada?). "Hey my name's Angela and I'll be your waiter this evening". I suddenly feel like an upper-class snob.

Now don't get me wrong, the waitresses are absolutely lovely. But deep down, I can see through it all. She's got 10 other tables to wait on, a chef yelling at her behind closed doors and there's no doubt she's had to smile through rude-ass customers time-and-time-again. Behind that smiling, bubbly vizard, there's a sad, exhausted women trying to make rent. 

I get it. That's just how it is, she get's paid very little every hour, so she lives off the tips. A smile is the difference between being able to pay rent that month and being evicted.

What I don't get is why the hourly rate is so low. The food costs in Canada are the same as in Australia, if not a little more. So, it ain't cheap! Which makes me think, the owner must be making an absolutely killing considering how low they pay their staff.

So, when I get handed my bill by this smiling, deceivingly exhausted women, it feels only human to give her an 18% tip. Which, by the way, I need to get my phone out to calculate.


A Short Guide to Tipping in Canada

The basic nature of tipping in Canada is, if anyone does something for you, tip them. It's incredibly confusing coming from Australia, but this little guide should help ease some of the anxieties. 


+ Tipping is call gratuity.

+ You should tip between 15% - 20% on all bills where you've been waited on. 

+ If you're not sure, 18% is a kind but not overly generous tip.

+ You don't need to tip fast food places (eg. good old Tim Hortons), even if you're sitting and eating in. 

+ If you're really unsure, let you waitress know you're from a country where it's not customary to tip, so could she add the gratuity to the bill. Some restaurants automatically do this for you after hearing your accent.

+ Often restaurants include 18% on the bill for tables of 8 people or more. 

+ If you have a bad experience in a restaurant, still tipping is required. The waiter shouldn't be punished for something that's out of their hands. Instead, consider talking to management. 

+ At a bar it's excepted you leave 50c – $2 per drink. 

+ If there's a tip jar at a counter service cafe, it's not necessary to tip. 


+ Tip around $1 - 2 per bag to porters. Or save yourself some money and carry your own bags. 

+ Tip a few dollars to your valet each time. Or save yourself more money and drive the car yourself. 

+ Leave a $5 tip to housekeeping in high end establishments. A little 'thank you' note is a nice touch. 

+ Tip $10 - 20 to the concierge if they provide great service. It's nice to leave them a tip in an envelop when you leave if they've been helpful.


+ It's customary to tip a taxi driver 10%. 

+ It's not necessary to tip retail service.

+ It's common to tip a hairdresser, barber or beauty therapist 10%. 

Is tipping customary where you live? Or have you had a similar experience to me, where the idea of it gives you anxieties?


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Tipping in Canada