Tipping etiquette in Canada can be confusing for new residents and visitors. Many people struggle to figure out who they are supposed to tip, top amounts, and what to do if they have poor service.
In Canada, tipping is expected for most service industries. You’ll be considered rude if you don’t tip employees at restaurants, in the hospitality industry, or at hair salons.
Avoid getting blacklisted by your favourite eatery by learning the right way to tip in Canada.
In this guide, I’ll break down the specific amounts to tip for each service industry, and how to adjust for exceptional or poor service.
But a good rule of thumb is to tip at least 18% wherever you go if the service was adequate.
Most Canadians tip between 15-20% depending on their familiarity with the service staff and their ability to pay. With COVID closing many industries, tipping 20-25% has become more common.
Remember: you always tip on the total cost, not just the pre-tax amount.
Now, let’s get into the details of why we tip in Canada and how much you should be tipping across the country.
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Do You Tip in Canada?
Yes, tipping is expected in many places in Canada.
There are places where we don’t tip: fast food restaurants, takeaway meals, or coffee chains like Starbucks.
But in the restaurant industry, hospitality industry, and private transportation industry, tipping is expected.
Unlike in New Zealand, where tipping is a sign of excellent service, in Canada tipping is a part of your final bill. You should always expect to be tipping, unless the service was actively terrible.
Is Tipping Mandatory in Canada?
It is not illegal to not tip. However, it is considered extremely rude.
You will be blacklisted from most restaurants and service industries for not tipping fairly.
If you’re stiffing your server with as little as $1, they will remember and likely not provide you with good service in the future.
Since these employees rely on tips for their wages, they have a right to be actively annoyed if you are not paying them for their services. Essentially, they see it as you not paying them for their work so they are not going to work as hard for you.
You hear horror stories of people spitting in soup on TV. I’ve personally never experienced this working in kitchens in Canada. Typically, servers just won’t waste time chatting with you, and they won’t prioritize your order over their other tables.
Why do people tip?
In Canada, the minimum wage isn’t a livable wage.
The amount varies by province, but in Toronto it is $15.00/hour. This sounds like a high wage, but when you consider that you need at least $40,000 to live with a roommate in the city, this is not livable. Someone would have to work over 60 hours a week to make $40k after taxes in Ontario.
And in some industries, employees aren’t even paid this wage. Restaurant workers are paid a “server wage”. This is significantly lower to account for the potential for tips.
In 2020, the minimum wage in Ontario was $14.35/hour, but the server wage was $12.55/hour.
Yes, with tips you can make much more. But if every table is foregoing tips, you are living well below the poverty line in Canada.
This is why tipping customs developed in Canada: to ensure that these workers can live.
Some business owners do pay their employees a living wage. For example, Starbucks is well known for paying employees well and offering benefits. This is why it’s not common for Canadians to tip at chain coffee shops: we know that these employees are able to live on their salary.
Personally, I think a living wage is the better way to go.
When I worked as a bartender in Muskoka, we were very reliant on tips from customers. But since we had an outdoor patio where we did about 75% of our service, on rainy days we were making below minimum wage for working long shifts.
Even with the rain, we still had to work, regardless of the fact that we had fewer customers.
With the commute, some people were essentially losing money for coming to work those days.
Minimum Wage in Canada (as of February 2022)
- Prince Edward Island: $13.00
- New Brunswick: $11.75
- Nova Scotia: $12.95
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $12.75
- Quebec: $13.50
- Ontario: $15.00
- Manitoba: $11.95
- Saskatchewan: $11.81
- Alberta: $15.00
- British Columbia: $15.20
- Yukon: $15.20
- Northwest Territories: $15.20
- Nunavut: $16.00
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Type of Service
One of the main ways to determine how much you should be tipping in Canada is based on the quality of service.
Exceptional service means that your server, taxi driver, or hotel staff went above and beyond.
This can include recommending wines, explaining dishes, and providing their favourite cocktail. Sometimes it can also just be based on how you found their personality and how much you enjoyed interacting with them.
Oddly, in taxis the opposite tends to be true and the less that they interact with you, the better the service in many customers’ eyes.
Tipping for excellent service should be higher, to show your appreciation for their work.
This tip would be 20-25% typically.
Good service is the standard in Canada.
Good service would mean that the person adequately performed their job.
Some foreign visitors struggle with this idea, especially if their country does not have a strong tipping culture like Canada or the US.
Here, if someone is kind and does their job to an adequate standard, you would tip 15-18%.
I’ll be honest, even with poor service, I don’t think I’ve ever tipped below 15%.
But if the server is absolutely awful – especially if they are bad at their job and actively mean to you – then you have a right to tip below the standard tip percentages.
Most people in Canada will never leave a tip below 5%, even if the person actively spills things on them.
But you can go to 0% if it was truly horrible. Usually, if the service was that bad, you should complain to the restaurant owners or the taxi company and they would offer you some free item to apologize.
Average Tip Rate in Canada by Province
- Prince Edward Island: 18%
- New Brunswick: 18%
- Nova Scotia: 18%
- Newfoundland and Labrador: 15%
- Quebec: 20%
- Ontario: 15-20%
- Manitoba: 14%
- Saskatchewan: 15%
- Alberta: 14%
- British Columbia: 10-15%
- Northern Territories: 15-18%
Tipping in Canada: Who to Tip and How Much
|Industry||Minimum Tip||Excellent Service|
|Masseuse or Esthetician||10%||20%|
Restaurant tipping in Canada is the #1 place you should be leaving a tip when you are in the country.
This is because servers get paid less than a livable wage in almost every restaurant in Canada.
Remember that your tip isn’t just going to the server. Servers have to tip out the kitchen staff, their manager, and sometimes the restaurant itself.
When I was a bartender, our tip outs were lower because we didn’t have to tip the hostesses, but we still had to give about 10% of our tips to other people in the restaurant. Servers had to give 13%.
That’s important to remember when you calculate tips in a restaurant, as you aren’t just tipping your server. If you don’t tip them at all, you are also forcing them to pay out of pocket to tip these other people based on your bill.
Customers who had an enjoyable meal should always tip at least 15%. But the more common amount now is 20%, or higher for great service.
Note: Many restaurants in Canada include a mandatory service charge when you have a large dining party (usually 8+ people). This is an automatic 18% gratuity that applies to your bill. You can tip on top of this, but there is no expectation of it.
Bartenders or mixologists at bars get tipped differently than servers.
If you are getting shots at a club, you aren’t going to tip 20% for them having just poured a quick drink for you.
In that case, you would tip an extra dollar or two per round, or put some money in the tip jar at the end of the night.
But if you are at a pub or a fancy mixologist bar, you would tip 15% on alcoholic drinks, especially cocktails.
In the States, it’s common not to tip on alcohol. But in Canada, bartenders make a server wage, so they need the tips to live.
Plus it’s hard work! When you’re cranking out a dozen mojitos a minute, you want to be paid well!
If you get delivery food, expect to tip the driver.
Whether your order from a pizza restaurant, Chinese delivery, or via UberEats/any other app, you will need to leave a tip.
Standard tips for drivers used to be much lower, around 10%. Nowadays, expect to tip 13-15%. If it’s raining or they had to go a far distance, expect to tip closer to 20%.
I’ll be honest, most people stiff delivery drivers and offer low tips. They stick with the “keep the change” method of the early 2000s when you’d order a pizza and let them keep a dollar or two.
That’s just not sustainable anymore, especially with the cost of gas and the low amount they are paid. Uber is notorious for underpaying its drivers.
So show some appreciation and give them a tip they can live on.
If you are getting a takeaway from a restaurant, you’ll likely be prompted to tip when you pay.
There is no minimum tip amount in Canada. They cannot require you to tip.
This is actually a built-in function on their card reader machines and many of these stores leave it to try and guilt people into tipping.
There is no expectation to tip on food that you are picking up in Canada. At most, you might leave some money in tip jars or round up your total as a thank you.
Restaurants don’t tip out on takeaway orders, so no one is losing money by you doing this.
Coffee Shops and Barista
It is not common to tip baristas in Canada, unless you are dining in at an indie coffee shop.
If you get a sandwich at Starbucks, you won’t be expected to tip even if you sit in the story.
But if you go to a local coffee shop and get a meal, you should tip at least 15%.
When you just buy a coffee for takeaway, you may consider leaving change in the tip jars on the counter. Most people don’t do this unless it’s an indie coffee shop or somewhere they go very regularly.
Visitors need to know how much to tip their tour guides in Canada.
The short answer: it depends!
If you are on a large group tour, such as a Contiki bus tour or a day trip to Peggy’s Cove, you would tip 10% as a base.
However, if it is a private tour, expect to tip 15% or more.
Once again, you can determine the amount to tip based on the level of service provided by the tour guide. The better the services, the more you should pay them.
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You do not need to tip for public transportation.
Whether you are taking local subways, buses, or streetcars or long-distance coach buses, there is no expectation for tips.
Ride Share/Taxi Drivers
Whether you are in an Uber, a Lyft, or a taxi, you should tip your driver.
Taxi drivers work hard and make little money for their efforts. They have to pay a tax percentage to the government on top of paying their taxi company for each ride.
Typically, you’d tip 10-15% for a ride.
I always tip 15% unless the driver murders me or is drunk. So far neither has happened, so I’ve always tipped 15%!
If your carshare ride doesn’t cost much, the minimum tip you should give is $3.
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Hotels and Resorts
Not everyone knows that hotel staff are tipped employees.
They make over minimum wage, but it’s still commonplace to pay them different tip amounts depending on their job.
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Tipping etiquette in Canada suggests $2 a day for the cleaners.
I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of this before and most Canadians I speak to are similarly shocked to learn this.
It’s not very common to tip cleaners. Some people do leave money if they’ve trashed the room.
But many Canadians don’t tip these workers.
The concierge is the person who recommends attractions in a city. They’ll help you find the best tourist destinations in the city, and underrated things to do.
I didn’t even consider tipping them, to be honest!
In Canada, it’s just not a thing. In the US, it’s much more common.
Here, if they were incredibly helpful, you may slip them a couple of dollars. But they’d have to seriously go above and beyond.
They are usually very well paid.
A porter delivers your bags to your room. They are also called bellhops or bellmen.
You should expect to pay $1/bag they deliver to your room.
If you have crazy heavy items, you may increase this tip amount.
Room service is often debated for tipping culture in Canada.
Sometimes it’s included in the base rate, so you don’t have to worry.
If it’s not included, then you would typically treat it as a restaurant – even though you are eating in your room.
Tips average 10-15%.
If you’re planning to get a lot of room service during your trip, it’s always smart to tip more. They may bring your food faster next time!
If the employee is just bringing up extra pillows, I don’t usually tip. Some people do, but it would be $1 for their time.
I’ve often struggled with this one, especially when you just get a trim versus when you get a full colour job.
So, how much do you tip hairdressers in Canada?
Growing up, I would tip my hair stylist $10 for a $55 haircut.
If I got anything fancy done, like a dye job (I used to dye my hair a lot), I’d tip 15% on the total fee.
Note that you usually tip your stylist or barber in cash. If you tip via the machines, they have to pay out a portion to the salon owner.
Manicurists and Masseuse
If you’re at a spa, a nail salon, or a massage parlour, you’ll likely need to tip.
If I get a physio massage, I don’t tip as it’s a medical practice.
But when I go to a massage parlour, then I tip my masseur.
Average tips range from 10-20%, depending on what you had done.
If you have your nails done at a nail salon, expect to tip in cash. You usually tip a flat fee to the person who did your hands or feet, or both. We always tipped $3 for hands and $5 for feet when a combined mani/pedi cost $40.
So a total of a 20% tip.
Plan to leave a dollar or two at coat check, if it’s free.
If it costs anything, you don’t usually tip.
Valets work on tips.
Leave $5-10 for the valet, unless they charge for it. If they charge, then you do not need to tip.
Tipping at the beginning can ensure better service.
Movers in Canada
People often forget about movers.
As someone who has moved across Canada many times, I’ve tipped a lot of movers.
This is an industry that definitely requires tipping.
I always tip 10% to basic movers when I have pre-packed the boxes and don’t have a ton of stuff. Also, everything is IKEA so I’m not looking for the most delicate service.
If anything you own is delicate or you have a full moving van, tip higher to 15-20%.
Most movers I’ve dealt with are really appreciative of tips, and also say that many clients forget to offer them tips.
I usually also offer them a treat, like a case of beer or a case of pop when they go.
If you pay for packing services, or you need your goods transported long distances across the country, you’ll want to tip 20%.
Factor in these tip amounts when you’re budgeting for your move.
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Do You Tip Before Tax or After Tax in Canada
This is a hotly contested topic.
Bills in Canada have harmonized sales tax added on top of the base rate.
Unlike in the UK and New Zealand, where tax is included in prices, we add ours later.
It’s common to tip on the pre-tax amount in Canada. This is because the pre-tax amount is what is actually being charged by the restaurants. Otherwise, you’re paying tips on taxes that don’t actually reflect the restaurant’s work.
Ultimately, tip amounts, and where you tip on the total sales tax or without sales tax, are up to you.
Quebec Tipping Differences
Quebec likes to believe they are their own country.
In fact, they’ve tried to secede from Canada a few times now.
So it’s not a shock that they do tipping a but differently too.
Quebecers expect tips. And they are vocal if they don’t receive a tip amount that they feel they deserve.
The amount is the same as elsewhere in Canada: 20% for restaurants and smaller amounts for other hospitality services listed above.
The only difference is that they tip concierges in Quebec.
Tipping etiquette in Quebec is contested though, as there have been incidents of servers putting mandatory 18% gratuity on bills of minorities and foreigners.
This seems to be a practice to ensure that they get a tip, but it often amounts to racism, as they are determining this necessity based on physical appearances.
This has been especially prominent in tourist cities like Quebec City.
How to Give a Tip in Canada
Not sure how to leave a tip in Canada?
Tipping etiquette is really easy for the most part.
If you’re paying by card, you can just tip on the card machine.
However, if you’re paying by card but tipping in cash, it can feel more complex. But it’s not!
Tipping is so common in Canada that you can literally just hand the person money and it will be accepted.
When I tip my hair stylist, I pay up front then go back to his station to hand him the cash tip. Or I tip him before I even pay, since I know the total.
Restaurant tips can be left in cash on top of the receipt.
If you are tipping in cash for a service that you did not need to pay for at the moment, like at a hotel, just extend your hand with the money to the individual.
Canadian tipping culture means that this is so common that they understand what’s happening.
US vs. Canadian Tipping
Canadians can be seen as “cheap” next to Americans because it’s said that we tip less than they do.
To be honest, I’ve not found this to be true.
For instance, our restaurant tips are basically the same.
However, we tip on alcohol where Americans typically don’t.
In fact, when I worked as a bartender, I actually found Americans were much cheaper when tipping on food as well.
Toxic Tipping Culture in Canada
There is a belief that any culture where tipping is common leads to toxic tipping.
This is tied to that restaurant myth that your server will spit in your food if you don’t tip. Or that your service is wholly determined based on your tip.
Some people argue that it’s good to be tip-based, as the individual then needs to offer a higher level of service.
Having been on both sides, I can say that I think tipping culture is toxic.
It means that workers have to put up with a lot more abuse, especially if you’re female and have a male customer, to make a living.
Business owners should value their workers enough to pay them a wage that is sustainable so they aren’t reliant on accepting sexually suggestive remarks or racist jokes from clients just to be able to afford their rent.
Granted, tipping culture does mean that servers make a lot of money – definitely more than other entry-level jobs. It depends on where you work, but if you’re getting on average 15% tips for bills over $100, you can make more than your base salary easily on an 8 hour shift.
Wrap Up: Tipping in Canada Etiquette
Canada tipping etiquette is pretty simple.
It’s really easy to do tipping in Canada.
20% is the standard tipping percentage at restaurants, whether you’re tipping on a card machine or leaving cash on top of your receipt.
If you need change for tipping, just ask your server! They usually have it readily available for you.
Tipping is so common in Canada that the person you’re tipping will understand what you’re doing.
Although there are some benefits to tipping, Canadian tipping culture can be toxic for workers, as they are reliant on tips to make a living wage. It’s also easier to take advantage of workers or customers when tipping is involved.
So when you pay a service provider in Canada, remember to tip them generously, as they rely on tips as part of their wages. And be forgiving if they don’t offer A++ service. It’s really exhausting work.
Have questions about tipping in Canada? Ask them in the comments!
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