In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette that is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades.

The questions `when?` and `how much?` that surround tipping can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. This guide attempts to cover most situations 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.

Tipping on the Dutch side of the island is very similar to tipping in the US, in terms of when and how much. There are no service charges added to bills on the Dutch side and the service staff depend on tips. On the French side of the island, they practice the European way of tipping, with waitstaff making a decent hourly wage and therefore don’t depend on tips. Always be sure to check your bill for an automatic surcharge when dining or at hotels. You can always leave an additional tip on top of teh 15% surcharge if you received excellent service and wish to tip the wait staff directly.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use the Netherlands Antillean guilder?

The official currency of St Martin, the French side of the island is the Euro, the currency on the Dutch side Sint Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG). The ANG is pegged to the US Dollar at $1-ANG1.80. US dollars are accepted on either side of the island as is the Euro. Many places do not accept credit cards.

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

On the Dutch side of the Island there is normally no surcharge added to your bill at restaurants. The staff is usually paid a lower hourly rate and rely on tipping from customers to make their money. You should use the same tipping as the US and give 15-20% to your wait staff.

On the French side of the Island there usually is a 15% surcharge automatically added to your bill listed as Tax or SC. The waitstaff here are paid much more by the hour and don’t rely on tips as much, however you can still tip the wait staff 15% if you wish.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

When staying in hotels on the island be sure to check your final bill for an additional surcharge or Tax of 15%. If the gratuity is not included in your final bill tipping your housekeeper $3-5 per day, bellman $1-2 per bag and the concierge around $5 for their services is appreciated.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Tipping taxis drivers on the island is common and drivers usually get around $0.50-$1 depending upon the total distance and final prices.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

Tipping your tour guide between 10%-15% is advisable in St Maarten.

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is also true for hotel staff, however, if you should encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your 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.