I read that while tipping in Poland is standard, you should not say "thank you" to the waiter when he takes the cash if you are expecting change. Otherwise, he will assume that the amount overpaid is his tip. Thus, if you want to leave less of a tip than what you gave, you should hold all "thank you"s until after he has returned with the change.

Is this true?

My experience:
This seems to match with my experience (one data point). We only had large bills to pay for dinner, we politely said "thank you" when the waiter took the tab, and we never received change. We couldn't find the waiter afterwards and the amount we over-tipped wasn't too much, so we just let it go.

  • 1
    I don't remember if it was Poland, but I have also encountered the custom that saying "thank you" while giving the money means "keep the change". This custom may actually exist in several countries (in Europe at least).
    – Jonik
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 17:35
  • Interesting custom... Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 18:23
  • 9
    Makes sense. Here in the USA, if I hand cash to a taxi driver and am expecting him to keep the change, "thank you" is precisely the language that I use. Timing is everything. Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 20:23
  • I asked (another) Polish friend who replied: "that is true! once you say thank you, the waiter smiles with gratitude and walks away, never to come back with any change ;)" So we have about 4 data points now in confirmation. :)
    – Jonik
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 22:25

6 Answers 6


Well, I think it is true :-) Not every time but it depends on the waiter. It happened to me also and I am Polish. So just in case, hold the 'thank you' for a while ;-)


This is the case in most Central European countries, surely in Czech Rep. and Slovakia as well.

The reason is that, usually, you tip when you pay, so it goes like this:

  • Customer: Bill, please.

  • Waiter (brings the bill): It's 158, sir.

  • Customer (gives 200 bank note): One hundred seventy.

  • Waiter (gives back 30): Thank you, sir.

  • Customer: Thank you.

The waiter does not come twice, so if you want to get something back, you better say the price you're willing to pay. Of course, if you don't say anything, they'll give you the exact change (42 in this case) and you can leave them the tip from this.

I would suggest to accomodate to the local custom and unless they bring the bill in "an envelope", say how much you want to pay immediately.

  • This will work in most (or even all) countries.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 21:36

There is such custom, but it's not very strict rule and even many people in Poland doesn't know about it (but waiters probably do know).

It's quite natural, because when you give money and say "thank you" ("dziękuję" in polish) it looks like transaction is ended. But if you give money and say nothing, expecting for something, then it may look that you are waiting for a change. But you may expect that waiter will take change even if you don't say "thank you". That's why some people say explicit how much tip they give and then waiter know how much change they would like to receive.

Generally in Poland tipping is not very established and many polish people never tip. Tipping is most popular exactly in restaurants.

Here is thread about tipping on polish forum (pl)


Yes, but it is not very strict rule.

Obviously if you give 100zł note, paying lets say 50zł bill, no one will assume that you're leaving that much of a tip even if you happened to say thank you. However, if your bill is 90zł and you give 100zł saying thank you, it's more than likely that this will be interpreted as keep the change. General practice is that you say thank you as the last thing; thus by saying that when giving the money, you're indicating that you don't expect further interaction with the waiter.

BTW, same also applies in taxis and hairdressers.


I doubt this has anything to do with customs.

'Thank you' in English means acceptance, whereas in Polish - denial.

If someone asks you if you want something and you say 'thank you' as an answer in English, it means you want it, but, in Polish, it means that you don't.


  • Would you like a cup of coffee?

  • Thank you.

In English: I want the coffee.

In Polish: I don't want the coffee.

Also, the Polish phrase for 'I'll pass', when translated into English word for word, would be 'I'll thank'.


The waiters in Poland are obliged to bring you all the rest back but you may say: "thank you, the rest is not needed" or "thank you the rest is for you".

In Poland only few restaurants include the service charge in the bill (and usually it is stated in the menu) but you can always ask if it is already included.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .