A Guide to Tipping in Canada

Waitress taking order from couple at a restaurant in Canada

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Tipping in Canada is much the same as it is in the U.S. Generally when you are receiving services, such as from waitstaff, 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 percent to 20 percent is perfectly acceptable.

Tip in Canadian dollars ($CA), and keep in mind is that sales tax in Canada is between 5 percent and 15 percent, depending on the province, but tipping calculations are suggested for pre-tax amounts. 

How much to tip in Canada illustration
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Transportation

  • After taking a taxi, you should tip 10 percent to 20 percent of the fare. For example, a good tip would be CA$2 on a CA$8 fare or approximately CA$5 or CA $6 on a CA$40 fare.
  • Not everyone tips the airport or hotel shuttle 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.

  • Tip the doorman CA$2 if they hail you a cab. 
  • Tip the bellman CA$2-5 per bag. 
  • Tip the chambermaid or housekeeper, CA$2-5 per day or a lump sum at the end of your stay. Forgetting to properly tip the maid is one of the biggest faux pas made by tourists.
  • 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$2-5 if the staff member is delivering a complimentary item, like extra pillows.
  • Typically, a CA$5-10 tip when picking up your car at the valet; some people also tip when leaving it. 
  • Tipping the concierge is not usual in Canada, but if you are particularly pleased with your service, a tip at the end of your stay will no doubt be welcomed.

Restaurants

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. 

  • Tipping your server 15 percent to 20 percent of the pre-tax total is typical. Above that is exceptionally generous but not uncommon. 
  • When it comes to tipping your bartender, the dollar per drink that applies in many U.S. cities isn't as strict here; 10 percent to 20 percent is standard or often a "keep the change" rule applies.
  • It's not usual to tip the wine steward or sommelier 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.
  • At coat check, you should leave CA$1-2 per coat.

Salons and Spas

A tip of 15 percent 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 washes your hair CA$5-10 each.

Tour Guides

Visitors to Canadian national parks or its 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 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.

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