To Tip or Not to Tip in Spain


To tip or not to tip? That is the question. This is how it works in Spain.


Whenever I have friends visiting Spain, when we're in a restaurant they'll all ask if we need to tip the waiter. If you're going to visit Spain, here are some tips to decide whether to tip or not to tip.

1. Must you tip?

Waiters do receive a salary, albeit definitely not the best of salaries. To my understanding in some countries waiters rely on their tips to make their living. In Spain it's safe to say that most waiters earn enough to survive, so receiving tips helps them have a more comfortable life. Is tipping an obligation? No. But the waiter would be very pleased if you did.

2. How was the customer service?

In general, Spain is not big on customer service. Waiters - and shop assistants - can be very unpleasant, and it's not uncommon to feel like they're trying their hardest to avoid tending to you on purpose. Lots of people think that being nice (in your work environment) means that you're a false person. When you get a friendly and helpful waiter it's normally because they are personally very nice and feel like being nice. Otherwise you get atrocious service. Tipping is a way to say thank you to a nice waiter. Likewise, not tipping is also a way of making a statement to an unpleasant waiter to indicate your service was disappointing.

Some waiters don't give great service precisely because they have rough working conditions, so they're also making a point of saying I'm unhappy. At the same time, now more and more companies are realizing the existence and need of giving good customer service and are training their staff. Things are slowly getting better…

3. How much should you tip?

The more time you’ve spent in the restaurant and the more you consumed, the more you should tip. However there is no set rule on any certain percentage you should tip, so how much you want to tip is up to you.

In summary

You don't have to tip but you would be more polite and the waiter would be happier if you did. Tipping or not can sometimes be a statement of what you thought of their customer service. You choose how much you want to tip.

What is the tipping etiquette where you live?