In Canada, it’s customary for customers to tip individuals who provide a service. Tipping is most common in restaurants and bars.
However, it’s also common for barbers, baristas, valets, cab drivers, and other hard-working employees to receive a tip.
Just how much tip should you give, though?
Tips can be as small or large as you want, as they’re not mandatory. The average customer leaves a 15% tip for service but may leave more for exceptional service or less for unsatisfactory service.
Below, I’ll explain how tipping in Canada works. I’ll outline how much you should tip different types of workers when you should give your tip and explain how tips are treated on tax returns.
If you’re visiting Canada from outside of the country or just don’t get out that often, then you’re probably wondering about how tipping culture in Canada works. When should you give tips? Who should you give tips to? How much should you tip?
These are all questions I’ve heard from friends who’ve travelled to visit me in Canada.
In days past, a 10% to 15% tip was considered average. Today, however, a 15% to 20% tip is considered normal for most services. Personally, I tip on average 15% when I go out to eat at a restaurant or bar, 20% for great service, and up to 25% for exceptional service.
Although I’m all in support of being frugal and saving money, tipping is one area of my life that I try not to skimp out on, as I used to work as a bartender.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for how much you should consider tipping:
- Exceptional service: 25% or more
- Great service: 20%
- Average service: 15% to 20%
- Below-average service: 10% to 15%
The few times that I’ve received not-so-great service, I still try to tip at least 10% or 15%, because you never know what a person is going through. Often, “mistakes” aren’t the waiter’s fault and are likely due to complications in the kitchen or poor management (neither of which is related to the actual service I receive).
The tip is usually issued based on the pre-tax amount of the bill. So, if I spend $50 on dinner before sales tax, then a 20% tip would be equivalent to $10 (0.20 x 50 = 10).
Restaurants are, by far, one of the most common places where consumers tip service providers and most people are aware that it’s customary to tip 15% or more to servers and bartenders.
However, tips aren’t just reserved for the restaurant industry. It’s also customary to tip workers in other industries, such as:
- Barbers and hair stylists
- Makeup artists
- Nail technicians
- Shoe polishers/cleaners
- Valet drivers
- Cab and rideshare drivers
- Tour guides
- Hotel concierge
- Hotel bellhops
- Hotel maids
- Cafe baristas
- Tattoo and piercing artists
- Food truck workers
- Content creators
The list could go on, but I think you get the picture. These days, you can even receive tips for Tweeting and posting YouTube videos! Not sure when you should tip?
A good rule of thumb is that you should consider tipping whenever an individual provides you with a service that requires focus and attention to detail.
For example, tipping a valet driver to park your car safely is a good idea as it incentivizes them to take extra care when driving and parking your vehicle.
Similarly, tipping an Uber driver generously after driving you to the far side of town indicates your gratitude for them going out of the way for you.
Restaurants are one of the most common places to tip and have been for over a hundred years.
Historically, restaurants have operated on the premise of underpaying employees and relying on customer tips to make up for the difference.
In the case of the early United States, for example, many restaurant employees were slaves who earned nothing more than their tips
Although slavery was abolished in Canada in 1834, restaurants, bars, and other clubs often pay far below minimum wage, and many provinces have minimum wage exceptions for tip-earners.
For example, when I used to bartend part-time during university, I only earned the minimum wage at the time. Any extra that I earned came exclusively from tips.
That being said, I generally averaged at least $20 per hour after tips. I have several friends that work at high-end cocktail bars and restaurants and earn up to $100 per hour or more in tips, so I’m not saying that it’s a bad profession to work in, by any means.
The important thing to remember, though, is that many restaurant workers depend on your tips to pay their bills.
With this in mind, I always try to tip at least 15% whenever I visit a restaurant or bar. Many restaurants have a policy that automatically adds 15% to 20% gratuity to the final bill for larger groups of people.
Growing up, my mom would always give the barber who cut my hair an extra $3 or $4 as a tip. I would watch my father do the same thing to his barber whenever he visited his barber.
Naturally, I followed suit and started tipping my barber once I started earning my own money and paying for my own haircuts.
How much you should tip your barber or stylist depends a lot on the pay structure of the barber shop or salon. On average, it’s customary to tip barbers and stylists around 15% for their services.
For example, some barbers rent spaces in a shop and get to keep most of the money they charge for a haircut. Other shops don’t require barbers to rent a space and instead pay them a base hourly wage (usually minimum wage or more).
If I’m getting my hair cut by a professional barber who rents their own space, I’m going to assume that they’re charging me enough to cover their expenses. I’ll still tip them 10% to 15% extra if they do a good job, though.
On the other hand, if I’m visiting a shop where I know the employees are getting paid minimum wage, I’ll usually tip a bit more generously, offering up to a 20% tip for services.
If you use rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft in Canada, then you should be automatically prompted to leave a tip after you’re dropped off at your final destination. While rideshare drivers are paid a base amount for the drive, they often rely on tips to help them earn a living wage.
As such, it’s common to tip Uber or Lyft drivers between 10% and 20%, depending on the circumstances. For example, I’ll usually tip closer to 20% if I’m riding in a clean car and the driver is friendly.
I might tip closer to 10% if the vehicle smells like old cigarettes and the driver is yelling at somebody on the phone (believe it or not – this has happened to me before!).
Cab drivers typically earn even less than rideshare drivers (which is probably why there’s so much animosity between the two groups of drivers). This is because most cab drivers are minimum wage employees who aren’t providing their own car as a commercial vehicle, though.
With this in mind, I’ll usually tip cab drivers around 20%.
If you’re hiring a maid to come and clean your house, I recommend tipping around 15% of the total cost of the cleaning bill. For example, if I’m paying $100 for a maid or cleaner to come to clean my floors for a few hours, I’ll usually offer a $15 to $20 tip.
If I’m staying in a hotel where I know a custodian will clean my room after my stay, I’ll usually leave an extra $5 to $10 on the bedside table as a “thank you.”
Valets typically earn minimum wage, as their employers know that they’re going to earn tips. How much you should tip your valet depends on a few different factors, such as:
- The value of your vehicle
- How much the valet service costs
- Whether or not the valet provides additional services
If you’re asking the valet to park a $100,000+ vehicle, I would definitely offer them at least a $20 tip due to the extra care they’re putting into it. Otherwise, I’d say that a $5 – $15 tip is fair for most valet drivers.
Some valet services may also provide a complimentary car vacuum or detailing service, which of course, I’ll tip an additional amount for.
Tipping is a very important part of the tattoo culture in Canada. Tattoo artists often have to pay a lot of money to rent a space in a reputable tattoo studio or have to give a percentage of their tattoo earnings to the shop’s owner.
Tips are not only a way of showing gratitude but may also incentivize the artist to work with you in the future.
It’s complimentary to give tattoo artists between 20% and 25% tip after the tattoo is complete.
Traditionally, tips are given to the service provider after they provide the service. However, there may be some instances where tipping before the service could be beneficial, as it can serve as a valuable incentive.
If I’m at a restaurant with business associates, for example, I might throw the waiter an extra tip at the beginning, so they pay extra attention to our group.
If you’re like many tippers, you may be wondering where the word term tipping comes from in the first place. One of the most common explanations is that the word is an anagram for one of the following:
- To Insure Proper Service (TIPS)
- To Insure Prompt Service (TIPS)
While these both make sense, the actual origin of the word has nothing to do with “insuring proper service.” In fact, ensure should be the actual word that should be used in this case.
According to historical documents available on the Oxford English Dictionary’s site, the term tip was just another word for a bribe.
To me, this actually makes a bit more sense. The expectation of a tip upon providing quality service is similar to a bribe, as it encourages the service provider to offer top-notch service.
If you own your own business, then you may know that you can write off a portion of the money you spend on meals and entertainment related to your business.
The money that you pay in tips does count towards your meals and entertainment tax deduction, so don’t be afraid to include it when filing your business tax returns.
If you’re a tip-earning employee in Canada, then you’re expected to report the tips you earn as income on your annual tax returns.
To ensure that employees properly report their tips, many restaurants keep records of their employees’ tips and report them to the CRA as well, so make sure that you’re honest about your tip earnings.
The average tip amount in Canada is between 15% and 20%, depending on the industry and the quality of service that you were provided with. At the end of the day, tipping isn’t legally required. However, it is good karma and will ensure that you don’t have a bad reputation as a customer.
There are plenty of other ways to save money that don’t involve tipping less. Keep on reading for my list of 101 practical ways to save money in Canada!