Tipping in Canada is much the same as it is in the U.S. Generally when you are receiving services, such as from wait staff, hairdressers, cab drivers, hotel employees, and others, you are expected to give an extra bit of money in addition to the stated cost.
Tipping is not mandatory but generally expected because most of the service providers receive a relatively low base pay (minimum wage is about CA$10 an hour in Canada) and rely on tips to bring their earnings to a decent rate. In most cases, a tip in the range of 15 to 20 percent is perfectly acceptable.
- Taxis: Anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of the fare. For example, a good tip would be CA$2 on an CA$8 fare (easy to round up to a CA$10 bill) or approximately CA$5 orCA $6 on a CA$40 fare.
- Airport/Hotel shuttle: Not everyone tips these drivers, but a CA$2 tip is acceptable if your driver was friendly or helpful.
Hotels and Resorts
There is a wide assortment of staff at a hotel or resort—all expecting and deserving of a gratuity, but not everyone should receive the same amount.
Remember: You are never obligated to provide a tip if you feel that the service was lacking.
- Doorman: CA$2 if they hail you a cab.
- Bellman: CA$2 to CA$5 per bag.
- Chambermaid: CA$2 to CA$5 per day or a lump sum at the end of your stay. Forgetting to properly tip your maid is often the biggest faux pas made by tourists.
- Room Service: Be sure to check whether a tip is included in the cost of room service, as it is not necessary to tip on top of this. Otherwise, 15 percent is common, or CA$2 to CA$5 if the staff member is delivering a no-cost item, like extra pillows.
- Parking Valet: Typically, a CA$5 to CA$10 tip when picking up your car; some people also tip when leaving it.
- Concierge: Tipping the concierge is not usual, but if you are particularly pleased with your service, a tip at the end of your stay will no doubt be welcomed.
Sometimes the tax percentage can help you figure out what the right restaurant tip should be. For example, in Nova Scotia, sales tax is 15 percent, so you can tip at least the tax amount of the bill. Or, in Alberta, where sales tax is 5 percent, just multiply the tax by three to get a minimum tip for good service.
- Wait staff/servers: 15 to 20 percent of the before-tax total is typical. Above that is exceptionally generous but not uncommon.
- Bartender: The dollar per drink that applies in many U.S. cities isn't as strict here. Ten to 20 percent is standard or often a "keep the change" rule applies.
- Sommelier: It's not usual to tip the wine steward who helps pair wine with your meal separately. Rather, tip the appropriate amount on the check (including wine, excluding tax) and expect the sommelier to receive a cut at the end of the night. Some people do slip the sommelier a separate tip, however.
- Coat check: CA$1 to CA$2 per coat.
Salons and Spas
A tip of 15 to 20 percent for hair stylists, beauticians, and masseurs is typical on top of the before-tax total. It is also appreciated if you tip the person who blows dry your hair as well as the one who washes it at CA$5 to CA$10 each.
Visitors to special locations or just major cities, often join a group tour to get insider insight into the big attractions. If you join a large group, consider offering the guide a 10 percent tip based on the total cost of the tour if you enjoyed the excursion. If it is a private tour, increasing the tip amount to 15 percent is a way to show high appreciation if the service was top quality.