While tipping usually isn’t mandatory, it is customary for most cultures. But how do you know if you’re in a country where tipping is required or virtually unheard of? Tipping etiquette varies by region and can lead to embarrassing situations at business dinners if you’re not in the know. While rounding up the check may be fine in one region, it may be seen as an insult in others. That’s why American Express Global Business Travel has compiled a list of tipping guidelines for the modern business traveler. Avoid the judgmental eye of clients at your next lunch or dinner, with these helpful tipping etiquette rules.


Because of the sheer size of Africa, tipping can often vary drastically from country to country. Tipping etiquette in Morocco, for example, is to leave about 10% (if the tip hasn’t already been included in the bill), where as in South Africa, 15% is seen as standard. Always remember to tip in the currency of the country you’re in. While dollars may be appreciated in some places, they may be difficult to exchange in others.


For most Southeast Asian countries, tipping guidelines suggest always leaving at least a 10% tip. The rest of Asia does not follow this pattern. China, Japan, and South Korea are all no-tip cultures, however, if staying at a luxury hotel that predominantly caters to overseas travelers, it is seen as a polite gesture.


For Europe, one rule applies across the board: Tip in cash, not credit card. The standard tip for a waiter is about 10%, only moving to 15% if service was exceptional.

Latin America

Outside of large cities and capitals, 8-12% is the standard tip for restaurants. While tipping may not be a big part of the culture, it’s always appreciated. However, much like Africa, because of the sheer size and varying cultures within Latin America, tipping can often vary. For example, in Brazil, tip is usually included in the bill and no additional tip is required. In nicer restaurants in Chile, a 5-7% charge is automatically included on top of the normal 10% tip added to the bill.

Middle East

The Middle East is known for being extremely friendly and hospitable, with people providing a high level of customer service. For most countries within the Middle East, the tip will be included in the bill at the end of the meal, however, it’s still customary to tip on top of this. Tips are generally smaller in this part of the world, however, people tend to tip more often. A good rule of thumb is to tip between 10-15% on top of the tip added to the bill. Tips are always appreciated in this part of the world and can go a long way in building relationships.

North America

Americans and Canadians tend to be heavy tippers and gratuity is often not included (unless a large party is involved). The standard tip is anywhere between 15-20%, depending on the service, or a dollar per drink when at a bar.

South Pacific

While tipping 15-20% is standard for Australia and New Zealand, many island cultures view tipping as an insult. They view your stay as welcoming an honored guest and, if you return a second time, you’re considered family. If service is absolutely unbelievable, leaving an envelope at the end of your stay for cleaning staff and concierge is appreciated.