Guide to Tipping in British Columbia

Every country has its own etiquette when it comes to tipping service employees like wait staff, bartenders, hair stylists, and taxi drivers, so it’s not surprising that you may be a little confused about what the expectations are when you first more to British Columbia. Here’s a guide to help you feel more comfortable with tipping in British Columbia (and in the rest of Canada, too!) in a variety of situations.

Tipping in British Columbia

Tipping in British Columbia: Restaurants

At $9.20 per hour, minimum wage for servers is lower than that for other workers because of the amount of money they are presumed to make through tips. Servers’ tips are taxable income, which is why it’s considered extremely rude not to tip them.Gratuities are almost never included on a restaurant bill in British Columbia, and it’s expected that customers will tip 15 per cent of total bill for adequate service, and 20 per cent for exceptional service. Some even tip up to 25 per cent if they are particularly pleased. If the service was sub-par, it’s your prerogative – you may choose to tip from 5 per cent to 10 per cent, or not at all.  Most serving staff is also required to share some of their tips with bussers, hostesses and other members of the staff. When you pay with your credit or debit card at a restaurant, the machine usually offers to calculate the tip for you. If not, take the total amount for taxes and let that be the guide for an approximate minimum tip amount. In a bar, you are expected to tip one dollar per glass, beer or cocktail (this is easy with the distinctive Canadian dollar – the Loonie). Put a few Loonies in your pocket before going out for drinks, so you will always be ready for the tip. If you order food delivery, you should tip the driver about 10 per cent as well.

Tipping in British Columbia

Tipping in British Columbia: Hotels

It may seem strange to you to tip people for doing their job, but many hotel jobs are low paid, particularly because wages are expected to be supplemented with tipping. That’s why you’re expected to tip more people than just the porter who carts your suitcases up to your room on the 30th floor. You can also feel good about leaving a 15 per cent tip if you order room service (you can think of this person as wait staff at a restaurant). Unlike tips paid with a restaurant bill, most of the tips handed out behind the hotel gates are not percentage based. As a general rule of thumb, from $1 to $5 is also an acceptable amount to tip porters per bag they carry and for housekeepers per day. Don’t worry about tipping the doorman unless he/she hails you a cab.  A from $5 to $10 tip tends to be enough for the valet, and it’s best to give it to him/her when you pick up your car before you leave. Don’t worry about tipping the front desk person, or the concierge, unless you’re pleased with the service and really want to, of course!

Tipping in British Columbia

Tipping in British Columbia for beauty and personal grooming services

It’s customary in British Columbia and across Canada to tip the staff that pamper you at hair and nail salons, massage parlors and spas, and at any other personal grooming venues. The norm is from 5 per cent to 15 per cent on the before-tax price. This goes for men’s barber shops as well! There are some circumstances that may lower the amount you tip, however. For example, if the area is dirty or messy, or if the hairdresser, beautician or massage therapist fails to deliver the services correctly.

Tipping in British Columbia for other services.

  • Taxi Driver – approximately from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
  • Cart boys at a golf course – approximately from $3 to $5 per bag, or $5 per cart.
  • Casino dealers – Don’t feel obliged to tip a dealer, unless they are particularly friendly, or you are winning.
  • Train attendant – If you are in a sleeping car, while you do not have to tip the attendant, many choose to tip from $5 to $20 when they leave the train.
  • Movers – approximately five per cent.
  • Furniture and appliance delivery persons – From $5 to $10.
  • Flower delivery people – about from $2 to $5.
  • Dog walkers – from 10 to 20 per cent of weekly pay
  • The cable guy, home service providers, home contractors, movie theater ushers,  mechanics, gas station attendants, – no need to tip.

Remember, tipping is always you prerogative, and it’s not a requirement. There may be times when you experience exceptionally poor quality services and decide not to provide a tip. Remember to be considerate though, and ask yourself whether or not the person you would be tipping is responsible for the bad experience. For example, if your meal takes a long time for the kitchen to prepare, punishing the wait staff may not be appropriate.

Learn more about etiquette in Canada!

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Photos: Simon LawAlan LightIMCBerea College, Bobbie Vie


About Jerry

Before my family and I relocated to Canada where I received a teaching opportunity at one of the country’s renowned universities, my wife and kids were naturally full of questions. What would the schools be like? How does healthcare work? Is Canadian French very different than European French? What about Canadian English verses European English? How cold are those frigid northern winters we’ve heard so much about? The only way to fully understand a new city or country is to experience it first-hand. My family and I decided to embrace our relocation as an adventure. Years after the move, we still consider “The Great White North” our home, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with our quality of life here. // Avant que ma famille et moi-même soyons relocalisés au Canada parce que j’ai eu l’opportunité d’aller enseigner dans l’une des universités assez réputée du pays, ma femme et mes enfants avaient naturellement beaucoup de questions. A quoi ressemblent les écoles ? Comment fonctionne le système de santé ? Le français canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en France ? L’anglais canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en Europe? Est-ce que les hivers sont vraiment très rigoureux? La meilleure façon de comprendre entièrement une nouvelle ville et un pays est d’en faire personnellement l’expérience. Ma famille et moi avons décidé de voir la relocalisation comme une aventure. Quelques années plus tard, nous considérons “Le Grand Nord Blanc” comme notre maison et nous ne pourrions pas être plus satisfaits.