Switzerland has a very profitable tourist industry employing some 175,000 people and generating CHF 44.7 billion in total revenue. From that total amount, CHF 16.6 billion can be traced from the revenue generated by foreign tourists in Switzerland (see Reference). Of all the tourism products, more than half come from accommodation, meals, and passenger transportation. In this article, we explore a tipping guide in Switzerland. Is tipping in Switzerland expected? Who should you tip in Switzerland? If yes, how much should I tip in Switzerland?
When you are in Switzerland, what you see in the bill is the total amount that you pay. Restaurant checks and hotel bills include already all the taxes. So once you receive a bill, you can pay the total amount directly. And it is not always necessary to tip. But it is appreciated.
Employees in the hotel and restaurant industries earn decently, but the legal minimum wage is not guaranteed. Only some cantons have a legal minimum wage designed to protect employees. In 2 Cantons, Neuchatel and Jura, the residents have decided to introduce a minimum wage of 20 CHF per hour (see Reference). So factor in the high cost of living, the likelihood of low wage, if you have received service which is good or excellent, I would recommend leaving a tip.
The general rule of thumb for tipping in Switzerland is rounding up to the nearest 1, 5, or 10 Swiss Franc (CHF). That said, it is not required to leave a tip. But this amount is sufficient and appreciated too. The Swiss currency (CHF) has 1, 2, and 5 Swiss Francs available as coins.
Almost all Swiss people I know or residents in Switzerland leave a certain amount in restaurants. I also round up whenever I dine out.
Tipping in Swiss Restaurants
The Restaurant industry employs some 261,000 employees as of 2018 spread across more than 28,000 hotel and restaurant establishments (see Reference). Of this number, more than two-thirds are standalone restaurants and the other third covers restaurants inside hotels.
Restaurants in Switzerland provide good food and service. Since all restaurants are obliged by law to display their menu and prices outside, you can decide before entering if you are comfortable with the prices. Excellent restaurants can cost easily 200 CHF per person if you include the full meal (appetizer, main course, dessert) and wine.
Swiss restaurants and hotel bills already include a service charge of 15 percent, designed to cut out tipping. The price you see in front of the restaurant or in the menu is already the price you have to pay. The staff waiting on you will be polite and serve you properly whether you will leave a tip for him or not.
Nevertheless, it is customary to round up to the nearest full digit, 5, or 10 Swiss Francs.
For example, if the meal costs 67 CHF, it is common to round it up to 70 CHF. Or if it costs CHF 94 and you give a CHF 100 bill, you can let the waiter keep the change. Most servers come with a big black leather wallet full of change. After they give you the bill, you can immediately give the amount that you want to pay. They will be very thankful before giving you your change. Again, it is not expected, but very much appreciated. Especially when services are right or you are impressed by the service provider, you can tip a little extra.
For those who want to save money, check out the restaurant’s daily menu (Tagesmenu in German, menu de jour in French). This is served during lunchtime from noon until 2pm and normally commands a reasonable price. They also have a variety of house wines (Offener Wein in German, vin ouvert in French). Restaurants also typically half portions (or three-fourths of an adult portion) for children, if not have a separate children’s menu. Children’s portions also command a lower price and sometimes come with free ice cream.
Tipping in Swiss Bars and Cafés
Bars are open from morning to midnight and offer some food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Cafés, on the other hand, do not sell alcoholic drinks.
In Swiss bars, normally you don’t pay as you are served drinks. The bill comes at the end of the evening including all the drinks ordered throughout the evening. From the total bill, you can do the same practice as mentioned for restaurants. Rounding up to the nearest full digit, 5, or 10 Swiss Francs will be appreciated, especially for waiting staff who always promptly brought you a beer.
If you have coins and there is a tip jar, you can leave a couple of coins as a tip in the tip jar by the cash register.
If you are still inclined towards tipping or want to pay a particular server, pay him or her in cash directly, as tips through the credit card or a shared tipping jar will likely be distributed to everyone equally.
Tipping Taxis Drivers in Switzerland
Taxis in Switzerland are incredibly expensive – definitely one of the most expensive in the world. It might be worthwhile to check the rates beforehand to see how much it would cost. Taking public transport (trains and trams) will definitely cost you much less.
Nonetheless, if you want to take a taxi, you will expect to pay for each kilometer. Not only will you pay for each kilometer. If you order a taxi and let the taxi driver wait, also expect to pay for his or her waiting time. So please be on time or never complain if you have a hefty bill because you were late.
The final bill typically has the following components as an example:
- Basic Fee per ride: CHF 6.-
- Mileage Fee per kilometer: CHF 5.-
- Waiting time per minute: CHF 1.30-
- Additional cost per booster seat (optional): CHF 20
Whether the fare amount already includes the tip or not depends on the taxi company or taxi driver. It is assumed to be included in the service charge. However, some companies specify on their websites that the total taxi ride cost does not include a tip.
Drivers may still hope to receive a tip. You may round up to the nearest Franc, 5, or 10 Swiss Francs as a courtesy for good service. This will be appreciated by the taxi drivers. Please remember that the cost of living and diesel prices are higher in Switzerland compared to the rest of the world, so the taxi drivers do have higher upfront costs to contend with.
Sometimes, it might be more cost-effective to organize a taxi in advance and get a discount. At the air shuttle, you can give CHF 1 per bag if they help you with your luggage.
Tipping the Valet, Doorman, or Chambermaid in Switzerland
A doorkeeper at your hotel can assist you with luggage or hailing transportation. And the valet assists in parking the car. These employees are typically available in Grand Hotels to assist. It is really not expected to tip them. But those who stay in luxury hotels are normally generous and used to tipping.
In this case, a CHF 5 coin or CHF 10 bill will be appreciated by the employees working in a luxury hotel, especially if they have provided exceptional service. For tipping porters and doormen in humbler lodgings, you can estimate CHF 2 per bag or minor service.
You can offer CHF 1 to 2 per night as a tip for a spotless stay to the housekeeping or cleaning lady. You can leave it in the room before leaving with a note. There is also a possibility to leave the tip with the concierge.
- Gesetzliche Mindestlöhne, Unia Schweiz – Die Gewerkschaft
- Guides, Fodor’s. Travel. Fodor’s Essential Switzerland. Routledge.
- Swiss Tourism In Figures 2018, Schweizer Tourismus-Verband
- Living and Working in Switzerland, David Hampshire