Tipping Guide for Expat
In Amsterdam, after you are done with your coffee, drink, snack or food, the receipt comes on a silver plate with some ‘bonbons’, sometimes mints or even lollipops. This makes customers feel obliged to tip. However, tipping here carries somewhat of a “don’t ask, we can’t tell” policy. While some Dutch people will look at you like a tourist if you suggest adding even 10% to the bill, some will also think it’s a bit tactless to leave exact change even when you are simply paying in a cafe. Some restaurants have a special blank space on the bill where you can denote the exact tip you are willing to give, if any, but even then the amount is up to you. With no clear system of tipping in place, it is always a good idea to trust your instincts in restaurants and cafes.
A good rule to use is to be sure that you never find yourself doing too many calculations: in other words, if you sit down for drinks or a small meal, make your life easy, and round up the bill to the nearest coin – or throw in an extra euro, if you are in a large group or if it will make the tab “rounder.” If you have sat down for a longer, larger meal, or you are with a lot of people, it might be a good idea for everyone to throw in a few euros, which is appreciated, but again, not expected or necessary. Remember, in the Netherlands, servers are not relying on tips for their wages, and this will likely be reflected in the service that you receive. Respect this if it is different from your cultural norm, and appreciate the relaxed nature of the service industry that is not firmly rooted in the ideal of the “customer as the king.”
The only place in the Netherlands that you must leave a tip is the restroom. On average, 6 out of 10 places with a W.C. have a lady expecting to get tipped for her services, specifically keeping the place clean. This kind of tip is usually a flat rate (0,20 to 0,50 cents) and in most cases you can’t avoid it. As a matter of fact, you will regret not finding coins in your pockets when visiting the W.C.
When it comes to services outside of the food and drink industries, the protocol for tipping is relatively the same: you are never required to tip, but you should consider a tip to be a sign of gratitude for a service that has been provided with pleasure and has fulfilled your needs suitably, for example, in taxis, with deliveries, and in the salon.