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There is already a question about whether tips are mandatory in Germany, but how much should I tip?

  • While answering and extending my answer to the linked question I thought about the exact percentage. I then realized that this information is off-topic to the linked question, because it does not ask "how much" but "whether". I have more content that want to provide and it feels like this does not belong in my original answer. I think the popularity of the topic warrants a dedicated question. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 18:03
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    While the other question did not ask for how much, it has several good answers that indicate the amounts or percentages. – Willeke Nov 4 '18 at 18:09
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    Is it not in the interest of the site to have answers that specifically answer the quesiton asked? Having anwers specific to the quesiton makes finding answers easier. If I only see the title of the linked question it is not evident that I will find an answer to "how much". Taking your view to the extreme, we would to have "blog" type answers that cover everything that is vaguely related to the question and are a chore to read through. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 18:14
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    I have come to the conclusion I was hasty in closing, (I still stand by that the other question covers all that this question asks about) but I have joined the re-open votes. – Willeke Nov 4 '18 at 18:25
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    @DavidRicherby Let us continue the discussion on meta: travel.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4855/… – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 6 '18 at 14:05
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How much ?

In general, tipping is optional in Germany. While not tipping is not the typical case, there are people who don't tip at all. Thus it does not necessarily imply that something bad happened. It is different from the US, where you can expect the manager to ask you what kind of catastrophy the server has caused.

It is hard to give a universal percentage that is always applicable because you usually round up to the next 50 ct for low amounts and to the next euro for higher amounts. You would also probably avoid paying 89€ and round it to 90€.

I "crunched some numbers" and found that 5%-10% is a good approximation of a common tip percentage. Marked in green are values in columns that felt right. There are four important columns based on a 5%, 10%, 15% or "other" tip.

enter image description here

As you can see, sometimes a neat number will be prioritized. Or for 15,10€ you would take 10% and round down a little because it is rounded to 50 ct but is closer to 10%.

Obviously this is a subjective assessment but may be useful to foreigners to get a feel for what is the right amount. I found that e.g. people from the US tip too much. While no server will complain of course, you are "wasting" money and might come across as a show-off.

What to say?

  • If you don't say anything and just hand the server your money, they should give you the change to the cent. If they don't, this would be very rude and worth a complaint.

  • If you want to tip, you just say the desired amount while you are handing him the money, e.g. Achtzehn, bitte. So, simply the amount followed by a "Bitte". He will give you change for the amount specified by you.

  • If you have the desired amount handy, you just give him the 18 € and say "Stimmt so!" which informs the server that this is the correct amount you want to give and he does not have to give you anything back.

Source

I have been living in Germany for 27+ years.

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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo In the absence of a Bundestrinkgeldberechnungsverordnungsgesetz, the question is about individual opinions. – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 4 '18 at 22:03
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: I don't think you can get anything better than that type of answer. I still think it is useful though. My hope is that other Germans will vote on the available answers and thus democratically determine what the social norm is. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 22:03
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    Additional remark: The notes and coins you carry may influence what is "right". For a bill of 44€, if you have notes of 20€+20€+5€ and a 2€ coin, you might be ok even if that means less than 10%. But if you have to use a 50€ note, you would appear cheap if you asked to have 1€ or 2€ back, even if that would mean more tip than in the previous example ... – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 4 '18 at 22:08
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: I would argue that it is still useful and substnatially different from "Where can I buy the best pizza?" or "What is the most beatiful city in the world?" type questions which this rule was made to prevent. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 22:27
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo: Imho its not as black and white. Only a minority of the questions on this site have one and only one correct answer. I think, it comes down to variance. While "favorite pizza" questions have almost unlimited answers, the variance for tips is relatively small and will cristalize by voting on answers. Also this is highly relevant to traveling. Finally, rules are made to codify principles and have no meaning in themselves. I am trying to argue why this question is useful for this site. Simply answering that it is against the rules ignoring its benefit is counterproductive imho. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 22:49
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Generally speaking, 10% sounds good, often rounded to a "neat" value.

  • If the bill is €17 or €17.50, one might pass an €20 note and say "Stimmt so." Literally translated it means "that's right as it is," indicating that one does not want any change.
  • If the bill is €9.80, one might pass an €20 note and say "Auf elf." Literally "to eleven," this means one wants to pay €11 and get €9 back. (Possibly a northern idiom.)
  • Passing money in a way that makes no sense if one expects change is an indication that one wants to tip. If the bill is €9.50 and one passes an €10 note plus an €2 coin, this indicates an €2.50 tip unless one says something like "Auf elf."
  • Raising a hand as the waiter gets the change indicates that one wants no change. This can be a quite subtle gesture if the amount looks right for an included tip.
  • I have never witnessed the "pushing-away gesture" and would find it condecending tbh. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 18:54
  • @problemofficer, the waiter starts to get the change, one raises one hand palm facing forward? Do you recognize that and how would you describe it? – o.m. Nov 4 '18 at 19:06
  • I still find it condecending and I don't remeber ever seing it. Not saying anything, to me shows contempt towards the server because you don't even bother spending the energy to say two words. – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 19:17
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    Also, I never heard "auf..". Can I ask which region of Germany you are from? – problemofficer Nov 4 '18 at 19:19
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    I rather know "Machen Sie elf" (or just "elf") – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 4 '18 at 22:11

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