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In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. In Europe tipping is not as habitual, and in the Netherlands in particular it is even less frequent.

The restaurant and hospitality industry in the Netherlands represents a well-paid group of workers. They`re usually students, and if they`re considerably older chances are they own the place. Regardless, minimum wage at cafes, restaurants and bars is well above that in North America, so servers do not live off of tips. In fact, many don`t expect anything beyond coins left on the table.

This guide attempts to cover mostsituations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips`will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S.dollars, or should I use Euros?

The Netherlands is part of the European Union, and as of 2002 has completely converted to use of the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Euros upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however in the Netherlands you will find cash is still king! Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?

To start, it is important to know that the Dutch government requires that all taxes and service charges be included in the published prices of hotels, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, salons, and sightseeing companies. Even taxi fare includes taxes and a standard service charge. To be absolutely sure in a restaurant that tax and service are included, look for the words `inclusief BTW en service` (BTW is the abbreviation for the Dutch words that mean value-added tax), or ask the waiter. Leaving a tip (or `fooi`) is customary in restaurants, bars, and pubs. Don`t overdo it, but don`t be stingy either.

The first thing you may notice is that there is a low demand at restaurants, as eating out isn`t as common as it is in North America. It`s not as cheap and the idea of a restaurant is (generally) reserved for special occasions. Knowing that, don`t expect happy hours, `early bird` specials or daily deals.. and if you find them, chances are it`s a tourist restaurant. When dining out it is polite to wait until the host/waiter welcomes you and brings you to a table. In less formal settings, such as lunchrooms or diners, you can just grab an empty table and wait for your server. To tip like the Dutch, if you feel the service was exceptional the standard tip is about 10%, and make it easy on yourself by simply rounding up the bill and leaving a whole Euro amount. This eliminates the need for the server to run back and forth to bring change. If you do not have smaller bills, let the server know what you want to pay, including any amount for tip, and what you expect back in change. Since the wait staff are paid well enough without tips, the service can tend toward the lackadaisical. You may need to make concessions for what constitutes `good service.` If another staffer takes your payment for the bill, give the tip to your waitperson directly.

In a cafe or snack bar, leave some small change on the counter or table. When ordering drinks in any bar forgo the tip altogether. It may feel wrong at first, but it is honestly not expected. If you are in a group and sit down together to order drinks and have a server bringing them, simply round your bill to the next whole Euro. It may only be 40 cents, but your server will be grateful that they do not need to make change!

Lastly, the term `going Dutch` originates in this area of Europe. The Dutch living in the Western part of the Netherlands are completely aware that they have a culture that leans on the thrifty side. The term `going Dutch` has a hint of truth, although many locals will say this view is long passe. Regardless, splitting the bill is usually the norm when eating with a group!

Also bear in mind that, in general, all Dutch can be very direct or outspoken. This `openness` can, at times, be misunderstood as being rude, nosy or unmannered. The Dutch merely see this as a sign of honesty and trust rather than being unmannered.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

The practice of tipping is not very common in hotels in the Netherlands. In hotels a service charge is included in the bill for staff. Breathe deeply, it goes against all you may know as a traveler!

Simply because the staff do not stand around with their hands out does not mean that you can`t, IF you wish to reward good service, do so. If you make that decision, keep it cool. For a Porter who helps to carry your bag(s) to your room give him no more than 1 Euro per bag. Similarly, hotel Concierge staff can be very helpful for first time travelers; they are a wealth of information from directions to restaurant suggestions and reservations. Tip them (again, only if you wish to do so) accordingly for their helpful service, but certainly no more than a few Euros. For Chambermaids leave your tip at the front desk at the end of the stay, and aim for about 5 Euro in total (seriously).

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Taxi drivers in the Netherlands are pretty straightforward and honest. Their service charge is already included, so again you may encounter very stoic service. That is not to say that they are unfriendly, but do not expect them to talk your ear off! If you feel the irrational compulsion to tip simply round the fare to the next whole Euro or feel free to tip up to an additional 5% or 10% if they are extra helpful. Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

Tour guides in the Netherlands are compensated admirably and there is a service chage built into the rates already. If your guide is particularly enthusiastic, helpful or informative and you can`t overcome your need to tip, leave a few Euro. They will not be expecting the gesture and will be very appreciative.

Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would notnormally?

Toilets: One of the things to remember about public toilets in Holland (aside from calling them `toiletten` (twa-lett-en) or `the WC` (Vay-say) and not restrooms or comfort stations) is to pay the attendant. He or she will often have a saucer where you put your money. Tip approximately 0.50 Euro. The attendant ensures that the toilets are clean.

Other Services: In the event that you are in the Netherlands for a special occasion (wedding, honeymoon, graduation gift, birthday, etc..) and employ the services of a hairdresser, make-up artist, party planner, personal shopper, tailor or spa services and the like, use your best judgment in tipping. Factor in the cost and quality of service and, as a general rule, stay well within the 5 - 10% range. It is easiest to round up to the next whole Euro.

Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower in the Netherlands than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

Try to pay for all services in cash (other than your hotel) and if you feel uncomfortable with that thought, be sure to ask for a receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.