A Guide to Tipping in Canada

a jar full of tips

What’s too much tip? What’s not enough? We’ve got the answers!

OK. So picture the scene.

You’ve just arrived in Canada for your working holiday. It’s your first night.

You decide to go out for dinner with your friends to celebrate.

The world is your oyster.

Until that is, the bill comes.

You know you’ve got to acknowledge your waiter’s service with a gratuity.

But what’s the tradition in Canada? How much should you tip?

You don’t want to leave too little. That’d be rude.

And you don’t want to give too much. That’s unnecessary.

And then it happens.


Don’t let this happen to you!

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Are tips taxable in Canada?

First things first

You don’t necessarily have to tip when you’re in Canada. It’s not mandatory.

Technically you could just walk out of a restaurant without leaving a gratuity.

But do you really want to be that guy?

A lot of service providers receive a relatively low base wage. And many rely on their tips.

In most cases, a tip in the range of 15 – 20% will get the job done.

Keep in mind that it’s common for a sales tax to be added to the cost of goods and services in Canada.

The tax ranges between 5% and 15%, depending on the province. Tips are usually calculated based on the pre-tax amount.

Tipping tips!

Figures not your forte?

Use the sales tax percentage on the bill to help you figure out how much you want to leave.

For example, if you’re in Montreal (Québec) you will have to pay just under 15% in sales tax on top of your bill. You could match this amount for the tip.

Or in Calgary (Alberta), where the sales tax is 5%, you can simply multiply the tax amount by 3 or 4 (depending on the service) to find your tip total.

Let’s take a look at some more specific situations where tipping for service will likely be required.


people having dinner and having a toast

At ‘sit-down’ style restaurants in Canada, a waiter will normally expect a tip of at least 15% of the total price of the bill.

Tipping above 15% is common too, particularly where there has been exceptionally good service.

Not tipping is considered rude. So remember, leave a little something extra for your waiter!

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At the bar

A good rule of thumb here is to tip your bartender 10-20%.

If you visit a restaurant where there is a sommelier (wine waiter), you can expect them to take a cut from the amount you tip on the total cheque.

Did somebody take your jacket as you walked in the door? Don’t forget to tip this staff member before you leave. $1 – $2 per coat should do the trick here.


Canada taxi sign

When you arrive in Canada for your working holiday, you’ll likely consider getting a cab from the airport to your accommodation.

Depending on your experience, it’s normal to tip your taxi driver anywhere from 10-20%.

In other words, if your fare runs to $20, $4 is a reasonably good tip.

If you choose instead to get a shuttle bus service from the airport, it’s a good idea to tip your driver a couple of dollars if you have found them particularly friendly or helpful.

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If you stay at a hotel or resort while in Canada you’ll likely encounter a number of situations in which it is appropriate to tip.

For instance, when you arrive at the hotel, you’ll likely be greeted by a bellman who will help you to bring your bags to your room. Usually, the bellman will expect a tip somewhere in the region of $2-$5 per bag.

Later, you might head out for the night. And if you need to order a taxi to get to your destination, a doorman will probably hail it for you. It’s a good idea to tip him $2.

working holiday maker working at a hotel

If you order room service, check whether the tip is included in the cost.

If not, it’s normal to tip the staff member 15% of the room service cost.

If you have requested a complimentary item – such as extra blankets or a pillow – a $2-$5 tip should suffice for the staff member that delivers it.

Each day, you should remember to tip the staff who will be cleaning your room.

$2 to $5 per day is fine here.

However, if you are leaving the money in your room, it’s important to indicate that it is a tip and not just money left in the room.

And here’s one person you definitely do not need to tip!

Canadian Dollars

The taxman!

Every year thousands of Canadian working holidaymakers overpay on their tax bills and miss out on claiming a refund.

Don’t let this happen to you!

The average Canadian tax refund from Taxback.com is $998.

And even if you have already returned home from your working holiday, don’t worry.

You have up to five years to claim what you’re entitled to.

And Taxback.com can transfer your refund to your bank account anywhere in the world.

Plus, you can use a FREE online tax refund calculator to discover exactly how much your refund will be worth.

Want to claim a tax refund from Canada?

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