British tipping etiquette

Every country is a little bit different, but it’s important to understand when you should tip in England and how much. 

Tipping etiquette in restaurants

Typically, it’s customary to leave a tip of about 10-15% of the final bill when eating out at a restaurant. Some restaurants will add a “service charge” of about 12.5% which means you don’t need to add on an additional tip. Make sure to check your bill before leaving a tip! 

You usually get service charge if you’re part of a large group, so perhaps a birthday meal out or a special work dinner.

If there is no service charge added, it’s usually expected that you will leave a tip. However, do not feel pressured to leave a tip if you do not think the service was good enough.

This is one of the biggest differences from places like Canada, where it is almost always expected for you to leave a tip, no matter what.

About to move to England? Check out my complete guide to moving to England and what you’ll need to do.

British tipping etiquette in restaurants

Tipping etiquette at takeaway shops

If you pick up some takeaway food (or takeout as we say in Canada) it’s not appropriate that you will leave a tip. You just need to pay for your food and collect it.

Other places that service fast food, such as McDonalds, it’s also not appropriate to leave a tip. I wouldn’t tip the cashier at a McDonald’s in Canada just like I wouldn’t in the United Kingdom.

Now that we have so many different food delivery services, like UberEats and Just Eat, it can be a bit confusing on what’s expected and what’s not appropriate.  It’s not customary to pay a tip for these services, but some people like to tip the driver. It’s up to you. Of course, the driver delivering your food would be happy to receive a tip, even a pound coin.

Tipping etiquette at cafes

England has some wonderful cafes throughout the country, but is it necessary to tip?

It all comes down to “table service”. Typically table service means when is food ordered by the customer at the table and is served to the table. You would also receive your bill at the table.

If there is no table service at the cafe (like most places) there will probably be a tipping jar on the counter. Feel free to tip as you feel fit. Many people have a particular “local” cafe that they go to and will likely tip. Most people don’t tip at big chains like Starbucks or Cafe Nero.

But either way, it’s up to you!

If the cafe does have table service, then tip as usual like you would in a restaurant.

If you’re visiting England on vacation, you might find yourself in a casual cafeteria, commonly found at tourist attractions. In these places, you’ll usually collect your food and place it on a tray, pay and then sit at a table. It’s not appropriate or necessary to tip in these situations.

Worried about fitting in with the Brits? Check out my guide on British culture and customs!

Tipping at pubs in England

Tipping etiquette in pubs or bars

One of my favourite things about England is the amount of unique and cosy pubs. It’s on my list of pros and cons to living in England!

Typically, you don’t need to tip at a pub. However if you’d like to, there’s usually a tipping jar on the counter that you can leave your tip in. In most pubs, you’ll order your drink and pay for it at the bar at the same time, so you don’t need to worry about tipping at the table like in a restaurant.

However, it can get a bit more confusing when your pub also serves food!

Tipping Tip: The general rule of thumb is if there is table service, then it’s best to leave a tip. If you are purchasing and receive food and drinks from a counter, then it’s typically OK not to tip.

Tipping etiquette for taxis

It’s recommended that you tip 10-15% when using a taxi, especially in London (and extra especially if they’re handling your luggage). Most people will round up their taxi fare and you can tell the drive you “keep the change.” Rounding up your fare is a lot easier for the driver than trying to pay your exact metered-fare and then giving them a tip. Rounding up is a lot more convenient! 

If you are taking a taxi or mini cab service to and from the airport, it’s polite to tip a few pounds if the driver also handles your luggage.

Of course, tipping isn’t usually common for ride-share services like Uber.

Tipping etiquette for hotels

If a porter brings your bags to your hotel room, they would expect to receive around £1-£2 tip in cash. 

If you dine at the hotel restaurant, the tipping expectation would be the same at a normal restaurant, typically 10-15%. However, it’s up to you whether to tip room service delivery.

Some people like to leave a cash tip for the hotel maids who will make up your room each day. Although it’s not required, a tip of perhaps £2 would be appreciated.

Do you have to tip in England?

The short answer: sometimes! If you’re receiving personal service, like at a restaurant or taxi or hotel, it’s polite to leave a tip. Things like fast food, cafes and pubs don’t always call for tips.